June 16, 1976 vs June 16, 2014



Writer: Nthabiseng Magoma

Thirty-eight years later South Africa commemorates Soweto Uprising, the generation bemoans unfulfilled dreams of our fallen heroes. At the least this should be what this day is about. June 16 is the day very close to many South Africans, in remembering history a lot of emotions are evoked by this day.

June 16, 1976, popularly referred to as ‘Soweto Uprising’ this is the day that saw thousands of South African youth’s passion and frustration, fighting for what they believed in. June 16, 2014, popularly known as “Youth day” on this day young people squeeze themselves in uniforms, and of course find another excuse to binge drink.

This day, 38-years ago, saw bloodshed of a young Soweto boy Hector Pieterson as a result of police gunfire however he was one in many who were casualties of that dreadful day. The shootings in Soweto caused a massive uprising that eventually spread throughout South Africa.

The 1976 youth were in opposition of a decree issued by the Bantu Education Department, this is the very same decree that was imposing Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in half of the subjects in school. This was a struggle worth fighting for, otherwise we would not be able to ‘twang’.

The youth of 2014 , are we even worth the page this is typed on? I humbly ask. Today ‘twanging’ is the ‘cool’ thing to do, but are we really understanding the gist of what this day is about? Writing about our generation I have more questions than good things to report.  This English we think we know to the extent of laughing at someone who is not able to construct a sentence using proper grammar, are we acknowledging that people as young as 13-years-old like Hastings Ndlovu died for us to be here? Mbuyisa Makhubu (the guy pictured carrying a dying Hector Pieterson) is still missing to date, all of this in fighting apartheid.

It is really an injustice to compare the two generations but yes, I will be the first one to admit we do not have apartheid to fight (though that could still be open for debate, but its politics for another election year). Today’s generation faces a  lot of adversities, some may say we have power over, such as HIV/AIDS epidemic, drug abuse and unemployment to mention but a few. More often than not we are regarded as the lost generation and this perception can only be changed by us.

Recognising and acknowledging the struggles facing us means we have won half the battle for denial remains an enemy to prosperity. If people like Tsietsi Mashinini and Barney Mokgatle could plan and lead a history making mass demonstration of this magnitude then it is surely within our power to effect change  in the society we live in and keep their legacy alive.


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Education Ambassadors SA

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