Youth Day Reminds us why we’re here!

Do you know how youth-day came to be?

The 16th of June is celebrated in recognition of the contribution made by young people, in the struggle against apartheid.

On June 16 1976, school children marched in a protest for freedom, known to us now as the Soweto uprising. Over 500 youth were killed that day, for standing up for justice, equality, the right to quality education and against the ruling government’s plans to impose the Afrikaans language as a medium of instruction in schools for black students.

The famous picture, taken by Sam Nzima, showed Zolile Hector Peterson (who died in the protest at the early age of 12) carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo, alongside Hector’s sister Antoinette Petersen. This is only one of many who lost their lives during the protest, with photographic evidence.

By Sam Nzima - Dzambukira, Proud (November 5, 2006). "Remember, Remember the Fifth of November". Harvard Computer Society., Fair use,
June 1976 Hector Petersen. Photograph by Sam Nzima/South Photographs.

Post these events, the government of South Africa, in 1995, officially declared June 16th a national public holiday.

So, why can’t we celebrate it like a normal holiday?

Every public holiday has its significance. In realizing what the struggle in 1976 meant, we should be honored to live within the freedom and rights that we are enjoying today. The enjoyment of this freedom comes with great responsibility, so as to not forget the legacy left by the youth of that time.

Making daily responsible choices and taking action against acts that violate other people’s rights is one way to honor June month. Substance use and abuse and celebrating in a risky fashion, is one way to destroy what this legacy is about as it tarnishes the meaning behind this meaning day.

Practice the rights with responsibilities, so that current and future generations may enjoy even better fruits of this labor!

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