SA Youth Day and the lessons from 1976

Young South Africans announce that are going to be commemorating this year’s Youth Day by taking a stand and facing the challenges they experience – much like their compatriots did in 1976.

Youth Day is a public holiday commemorated in South Africa every year on 16 June and pays tribute to the hundreds of students who lost their lives during the 1976 uprisings in Soweto.

Taelo Mokoena from Houghton, Johannesburg, stated there are wonderful lessons to learn from the students of the 1976 uprisings. He explained despite the fact that today’s youngsters are not necessarily fighting for the same things, they are also contending with challenges that they need to liberate themselves from, which includes unemployment, poverty and crime.


“We need to emerge from a mindset where we as youth wait around for for the government to do things for us. We will need to liberate ourselves from our circumstances and take up opportunities that are widely available to us and build a better future for ourselves.”

Mokoena said the most significant lesson young people of today ought to learn from those in 1976 is the courage to fight for change. “All of us must always commemorate June 16 because the courage of the youth then proved to us that it is possible for young people to bring change in our country.”


‘It didn’t come easy’

“Unemployment and HIV/Aids are definitely the two major challenges the youth today are confronted with,” said Dikeledi Madau from Rustenburg, North West. “All of us need to use the example set by the students of 1976 to motivate our youth to devote themselves to being empowered and fighting HIV/Aids, in the same manner the youth of 1976 devoted their lives to conquer apartheid.”

Madau said young South Africans continue to be a fundamental part of the country’s success. “For this nation to grow and develop, the youth must be empowered. The growth and development of the younger generation is central to the transformation of this country along with the enhancement of the lives of all South Africans.

“We need to always maintain the awareness; we will never make it possible for that kind of oppression to exist ever again in our country,” said Thato Sibeko from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.


“Our country has come far in accomplishing the growth our youth benefit from today – we need to safeguard that because it didn’t come easy. We need to keep the knowledge of our history conscious within our youth, to inspire them to be daring and face their challenges and succeed.”

Sibeko said your day should be used to take stock of the progress the nation and its younger generation have made. “We need to take advantage of this time to rejoice the progress we have made since that day. We should in addition take this time to reboot and prepare to continue to empower young people.”

“Our student heroes of 1976 were fighting to alter the political situation of this country back then. I endeavor to alter the socio-economic environmental of our country today,” said Thabiso Tladi from Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal.


“By educating myself and being able to help other young people also get an education I am fighting for change. I am fighting to see all young South Africans realise the benefits of the uprising.”

Tladi offers career guidance to high school students in his community and assists them apply for bursaries and scholarships, and secure a place at tertiary institutions.

“We pretty much all now have equal opportunities to study and pursue our dream careers and live a better life. The challenge now is to assist young people with information and resources to realise that dream, and reap the rewards that the youth of 1976 fought and died for.”



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