The 16th June 1976 is a day forever etched in the memory of South Africans. Even for those not yet born, the 16th June represents the horror of Apartheid, a day on which hundreds of people, many of whom were children, gave their lives in the fight for equal education. In a protest against the Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974, which forced all black schools to use Afrikaans as the medium of instruction for mathematics and social studies from Grade 7 onwards, an estimated 20 000 students took to the streets of Soweto. A planned peaceful march turned violent when the protestors encountered the police. A warning shot was fired which resulted in widespread panic, with protestors throwing stones at police dogs. The violence quickly escalated as police shot directly at the marching children and teachers.
Nearly forty years on South Africa has moved forward, but this day will never be forgotten. We still have a long way to go when it comes to the youth of our country, with record levels of youth unemployment and equal access to education remaining a serious issue for many South Africans. In response to the events of June 16th and as a way of focussing on the problems that face the youth of today, the month of June has been declared Youth Month in South Africa, with the 16th of June being Youth Day.
Click on the links below to read about some of the youth-orineted events taking place this month:
- Youth Month Celebrations led by President Jacob Zuma
- Inanda Youth Day Trail Run
- Youth Day at Pirates Beach
Image courtesy of saha.org.za.