June is celebrated as Youth Month in South Africa, paying tribute to the school pupils and ordinary citizens who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprisings in Soweto. This year marks the 40th anniversary of that fateful day
The aftermath of the events of June 16 1976 had dire consequences for the Apartheid government. The youth of 1976 was focused, had purpose and a common enemy. The apartheid government with an oppressive educational system that was meant to keep them enslaved. They suffered physical and emotional scars they bore since then
In contrast, the youth of 2015 suffers a different type of struggle, a struggle for economic emancipation. The youth of 2015 suffers the same scars, only difference is that the scars are deeply rooted emotional scars that have left the youth angry, disillusioned and apathetic about their future. These scars are driven by poverty, lack of job opportunities and other economic inequalities. These scars are evident in their youth’s alcohol and drug abuse particularly in the disadvantaged communities they are ravaged by use of Nyaope and alcohol. The schooling SA schooling system systems is also one that does not develop entrepreneurs or gives them better alternatives after school, which basically leaves young people in an abyss of misery after school. Youth of 1976 fought against an oppressive system of government and against apartheid, the Youth of 2015 are fighting a different type of apartheid. An economic apartheid that has kept the youth enslaved and entrapped in the abyss of poverty.
The purpose of Youth Month is to commemorate the sacrifices of those young people who took to the streets to rebel arise against an injurious educational system that would left the youth subjugated and disenfranchised. Young people on that day were arrested, beaten up, tortured or forced to suffer all sorts of humiliation.
Despite these sacrifices, this day has lost significance to the modern day youth who have view Youth Day as an opportunity to throw parties. Yes, there is a remembrance of the day, with communities wearing school unions to show solidarity with the school of 1976. It is rather unfortunate that instead of being properly commemorated, Youth month and Youth Day has turned into a drinking sprees and never-ending parties. With most of the celebrants (Youth) having little or no understanding of the purpose of the Day.
Oscar Wilde says “I am not too young to know everything”. This year, Youth Month should be an opportunity for the youth to teach other about the importance of Youth Month and Youth Day, to remove the legacy of back to back partying as it has become known as.
Youth Month is to be celebrated with honour and respect. The role of young people in the liberation of South Africa, must not only be acknowledged. Let this years’ youth month be an opportunity to inspire and empower the youth of South Africa.
Let this month become a month that gives meaning to economic transformation and all inclusive growth toward the total eradication of poverty and development of the youth of South Africa.