Major events lined up for historic Youth Day

President Cyril Ramaphosa expected to address the main Youth Day event in Limpopo on Sunday. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa expected to address the main Youth Day event in Limpopo on Sunday. Picture: GCIS

Published Jun 14, 2024


Durban — Sunday marks exactly 48 years since the historical 1976 June 16 Soweto Uprising - a gloomy day in the history of the country - when the bloodthirsty apartheid police murdered hundreds of protesting pupils.

The main National Youth Day event will be on Sunday in Limpopo at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium under the theme: “Actively embracing the socio-economic gains of our democracy.”

Fed up with being taught in Afrikaans, more than 20 000 pupils in Soweto clad in school uniforms - took to the streets challenging the authorities to hear their grievances amid the then ill-fated Bantu Education Act.

Some hoisted placards emblazoned with the words, “Down with Afrikaans” and “If we must do Afrikaans, (Prime Minister BJ Vorster) must do Zulu.”

Instead, the police responded by shooting randomly at the unarmed fleeing pupils, with many of them shot in the back. The protest - which began in Soweto quickly spread across the country, and when the dust settled - more than 700 people, many of them pupils, were dead.

This historical event was led by Tsietsi Mashinini - among others.

The National Youth Day - as the day is now called - is a public holiday in the country's calendar.

The South African government since the democratic elections of 1994, hosted a string of events to commemorate the tragic day that plunged into a deep race war.

This year is no different.

On Sunday, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport, Arts, and Culture will embark on a “golden thread that heals the nation through promoting social cohesion and reconciliation”.

The festivities will start at the Howick Mandela Capture Site’s Howick Museum under the theme: “The Democracy of the Youth of 1976 and that of 2024”.

This is the site where the first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, was captured on 5 August 1962 and subsequently charged with treason - which gave birth to the infamous Treason Trial. Mandela - and other ANC leaders - including the late Walter Sisulu- were sentenced to life imprisonment and spent 27 years in prison.

With grinding unemployment and social ills dogging the youth, the event will focus on curbing drug abuse, gender-based violence, mental health, poverty, and unemployment, said the government.

“In the same spirit, this year’s winter Youth Camp starting from the 18th of June, will take place in Mbazwana. The camp is anchored by a curriculum covering Social Cohesion and Nation Building, Leadership Skills, Sports and Games as well as Life Orientation,” added the provincial government.

It is unclear who will deliver the message for the day as a new government will be elected in the National Assembly on Friday (today).

This historic day is usually addressed by the president or the deputy president.

In her opinion piece in Business Day, Nthabiseng Masinge, a senior communications specialist in the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), said the youth should play a pivotal role in changing their lives.

“Youth Day on June 16 is a reminder of the pivotal role that young people play in shaping South Africa’s future. Through advocacy, innovation, skills development, and active participation in governance and accountability, young South Africans can drive the just and equitable transition needed to tackle the climate crisis.

“By harnessing the energy and creativity of its youth, South Africa can build a resilient, inclusive, and sustainable future for all.”

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