South Africans will commemorate the 44th anniversary of the Soweto Uprisings tomorrow. On the morning of 16 June 1976, thousands of black students went on a protest rally from their schools to Orlando Stadium. They were protesting against an official order which made Afrikaans compulsory in black township schools throughout the country. The use of local languages was prohibited in these schools whilst the constitution supported that Afrikaans and English be made the official languages of the country.
The rally was meant to be a peace protest with the intentions to plea with government not to make Afrikaans compulsory in schools. Things got out of control when the police were called in to disperse the crowds and riots broke out. Hundreds of students were killed as a result.
June 16 is a reminder of the courageous spirit of the youth of 1976 but more importantly, where we are going as young people because we are the future of the country.
South Africa’s young people face many problems, some of which lead to substance abuse. One of the biggest challenges facing youth is unemployment, gender-based violence, unequal educational opportunities and poverty.
Youth month is an important time to reflect on the challenges faced by young people in South Africa and recommit to creating opportunities. I believe as the youth of today we can do what the youth of 1976 did to fight against the problems that we are currently facing.
June 16 means as young people we must be at the forefront of making South Africa a better place. I think what it also means is that young people shouldn’t wait for government to provide solutions, instead we should create solutions. This day encourages us to implement long-lasting initiatives to empower each other.
“The working youth is critical to our future. The economy depends on you. With your hard work and efforts at improving your skills, you can make ours one of the most prosperous nations in the world.” ~ Nelson Mandela.
As the youth of the country the time has come for us to rise beyond our challenges. We must never stop believing in our dreams.