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National Youth Day in South Africa – 16 June

Home / Events / National Youth Day in South Africa – 16 June

by Nkeko Motloutsi


Theme: The year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Growing youth employment for an inclusive and transformed society.

This is the day the country echoes on the massacre of African school children during the Soweto Uprising of 1976, which was triggered by protests and demonstrations against the use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction. More than 600 people were brutally killed by police and the army, predominantly the number of children who lost their lives on this fateful day was very high.

The Soweto Uprising saw black children rebelling against the then “Bantu Education” in a quest for better education and educational freedom from an oppressive regime which wanted to impose Afrikaans in schools. June 16 is celebrated every year since 1991, when it was initiated by the Organisation of African Union (OAU) to honour those who participated in the protests on this day, and many other days to follow. We salute these heroes and heroines who confronted the wicked system head-on without fear or favour.

However, such acts of bravery and determination have since reached an anti-climax. The sacrifices, blood and sweat of this calibre are being taken for granted and abused by the so called “free youth”, the youth of today.

‘’Our youth today lack ideological clarity..... They carry themselves as people who know everything but clearly that is not the case, given how they fall in and out of trouble in rapid succession. Being rude and talking back to elders trying to show them the way is what they do best. Spending most of their time drinking at taverns, parties and having risky sex is what they concern themselves with.”(extract from Sowetan)

A really disappointing end to the exciting and impressive series of events which were meant to transform the education system is now an exercise in futility as youth nowadays, have a different agenda and view on a lot of crucial issues pertaining to them. It is our civil responsibility not to throw them in a bottomless pit but to guide them and redirect them to the right route of success. This day recognizes that the young people are the future leaders. Communities must support youth organisations and improve their lives and opportunities. They can be involved in the domains of music, arts and culture to raise awareness on youth related issues.

Activities in which to engage the youth on 16 June are: sports events, seminars, concerts and exhibitions to showcase their achievements and aspirations.

“May you grow in strength and determination as you build our country in the future”






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