To the rest of the world June 16 is just the 167th day of the year but to South Africans It is one of the most memorable day yet tragical. A reminder of South Africa’s yet worst era, Apartheid. Youth day is the official holiday dedicated to remembering the iconic strike in 1976 led by the learners of Soweto, who emerged victorious against Bantu education (the proposition of Afrikaans as the instructional language to all subjects). This victory came with a great loss, it is documented that, there were about a hundred casualties in the aftermath of this uprising and among them was Hector Pieterson.
It is concerning that not all youth celebrated June 16 by attending youth conferences, workshops and other educational programmes meant to motivate and empower them, a selected few thought it was a good idea to go party, drink alcohol and abuse substances at their nearest taverns and shebeens but hopefully they will soon realise the opportunities they are wasting as long they witness those other dedicated and driven learners progress in life.
What does Youth day mean to you?
“The meaning of youth day, respect ourselves as young people, be aware of our rights as well as responsibilities. We also have to realise the opportunities we have to have a bright future.”(High schooler)
“We have to celebrate by wearing school uniforms, in order to remember Hector Peterson and those who fought for free education” (High schooler)
“We celebrate youth day to remember the learners who fought against apartheid education” (primary schooler)
“16 June, we honour “bo-Sarafina”, the children who died to change our education for the better.” (Parent)
It is delightful knowing that there are those who still recognise and understand the meaning behind Youth day, as to why as people of South Africa, we come together to remember and celebrate the youth of 1976 who fought for all the educational privileges we have today, and also take advantage of these opportunities in order to have better leaders of tomorrow.