South Africa celebrates Youth Day and remembers the past

June 16, which is now referred to as Youth Day here in South Africa is day when we remember the past. On June 16, 1976 the Soweto uprising occurred sparked by laws that would force all education to be delivered in Afrikaans.

On the morning of June 16, 1976, thousands of black students walked from their schools to Orlando Stadium for a rally to protest against having to learn through Afrikaans in school. Many students who later participated in the protest arrived at school that morning without prior knowledge of the protest, yet agreed to become involved.

It is estimated that between 300 and 600 people lost their lives during the uprising, which became a defining moment in the resistance against apartheid.

On the blog Redemption Time the author reflects on the day:

I could say a lot about this day, but will restrict my words to making these few all of history, the apartheid system and what it did to the people and youth who were oppressed under it will forever remain one of the worst tragedies to befall humankind. i therefore give full respect to those youth, who on this very day, challenged the apartheid forces and neglected bantu and afrikaans medium instruction in 1976. hector peterson and those whe were at his side, standing up for their rights, will forever be remembered and honoured in this country.

At the Platform 2 blog, the author writes about celebrating rebellion on June 16 and music as a form of protest:

The Hip-Hop nation will know that on June 16 a son was given to us, in a form of a rap legend, a rap genius was born from the political activist Afeni Shakur and Mzansi nation will also know dat on the same day of 1976 history was made. It is a blessing to commemorate this day not only as a young South African but as Hip-Hop fanatic. The music we listen to bring as much revolution as the young freedom fighters that took their rage to the street. They fought a different cause relevant to their political struggles but with the same intentions of liberation as of the youth of today. Well, we might not be as mobilized as the young people of ’76 but the truth is, we need the same things, we need our freedom, this was evident during our April voting period as young people voted in majority. We came together to defend our liberty, we voted because we wanted our pains and struggles to be heard. After we nearly had our intentions twisted with xenophobia, crime and drug abuse, we fought back positively like the Hector Petersons rebelled against the Bantu education system we brought our own rebellion to the voting station.

Fabulosity writes that the issue was about more then just education in Afrikaans:

The issue however, was not so much the Afrikaans as the whole system of Bantu education which was characterised by separate schools and universities, poor facilities, overcrowded classrooms and inadequately trained teachers.

Thando Tshangela discusses the effects of the protest:

This started an era of student and youth activism that culminated in the 1980?s unrest in black townships and the crisis in the culture of learning and teaching as the student took the battle against apartheid to the streets. The aim was ?to make the country ungovernable? and ensure that freedom was achieved at all costs even if it meant their education had to suffer. Their motto was ?liberation first and education later.?

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