Youth Day, which will be commemorated tomorrow, Thursday June16, recognises the role of youth in the liberation of South Africa from the apartheid regime. On June 16 1976 a student protest against the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in schools turned violent, resulting in more than 500 people being killed and over 1 000 injured. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1976 student uprising in Soweto. Reporter KAYLYNN PALM spoke to Mitchell’s Plain youth about their thoughts on the contribution of the youth in the struggle and what challenges they face today.
Craig Japhta, 23, from Rocklands says Youth Day lets us to celebrate not only the past but also the present. “Yes, we acknowledge the contribution of our young people during the apartheid years, but we need to celebrate the wonderful things our young people are doing in their schools and community. As young Mitchell’s Plainians, we are creating new life, opportunities in a new time. We too want to make a difference in our own ways with our unique personalities and skills. Youth Day is about celebrating our young people, so let’s make a change in our communities and ourselves,” he said.
Cole Juta, 14, from Beacon Valley says young people need to realise they have responsibilities along with their rights. He added that Youth Day is still relevant in South Africa. “You will find that some young people have forgotten about Youth Day and the events attached to it. Therefore it is important for them to learn this at school and through the media. The youth of 1976 are heroes and have opened doors for the youth of today,” he said.
Yushraah Davids,17, from Tafelsig says June 16 is a historic day and should remain on our calendars. “It was a sad day for the families, friends and citizens of South Africa. Those young people had the country at heart and didn’t stop (fighting) against the laws. In Tafelsig, there is gang violence and teens are hooked on drugs. We need to get through it. What choice do we have? We need to realise that we are the future and South Africa. Our country needs good leaders.”