June 16: The legacy lives on

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The streets of Soweto are alive with the spirit of thanksgiving, as thousands of people have joined the Thuma Mina walk to pay tribute to the youth of 1976.

Today marks Youth Day, a day where the nation remembers the selfless sacrifices of the class of 1976, who revolted against oppression and the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in black schools. 

While that fateful day in 1976 undoubtedly went down as one of the darkest in the country’s history, as dozens of students were mowed down by apartheid forces, today the atmosphere in Soweto -- which was the hotbed of the youth revolution -- is one of hope, illuminated by multitudes of South Africans, and international visitors, who are united in common purpose of working towards a socio-economically empowered youth.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is leading the 42nd anniversary of the Youth Day commemoration.

As sombre as the significance of the day is, the President is adamant that South Africa can continue to build on the spirit of resilience, which inspired the youth of 1976, to deal with the challenges facing young people today, and to unlock opportunities for youth so that they are empowered to determine their own destiny in honour their predecessors. 
 
“Our youth were at the forefront of the fight against apartheid. The class of 1976 exposed the brutality of the apartheid regime to the world and ignited resistance around the country. 

“Forty-two years later, young people must help to keep their legacy alive by taking advantage of opportunities to build our country and change their lives. Young people should join the ranks of active and responsible citizens by participating in democratic structures and processes like elections, as well as be active leaders in the fight against crime, substance abuse, corruption and acts of violence,” the President said. 
 
President Ramaphosa further acknowledged that despite significant strides made since 1994, a lot still needed to be done to improve the living conditions of young people and black youth in particular. 
 
Youth that works

Youth Month comes less than three months since President Ramaphosa launched the Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative that aims to prepare young people for work through training and matching programmes. The programme is a business-led initiative in partnership with government, labour and civil society and will offer one million young South Africans paid work experience over the next three years.
 
This year’s Youth Month takes place within the same year that South Africa marks the centenary year of the country’s liberation struggle champions, former President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu.
 
The President has called on youth and all South Africans to use Youth Month to honour the sacrifices made by Tata Madiba and Mama Sisulu towards a free, democratic, non-sexist and non-racial South Africa. 
 
Today’s walk through Soweto to retrace the march route of the youth of 1976 will culminate in a gathering at Orlando Stadium, where President Ramaphosa will deliver a national message on Youth Day 2018. 
 
Government and its agencies such as the National Youth Development Agency will over the month host a number of engagements including youth expos, dialogues and youth entrepreneur hubs to showcase opportunities available to young people. – SAnews.gov.za

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