Blood & tears

2013-06-16 10:00

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As we celebrate June 16, let’s highlight the youth’s social responsibility to society, writes Siphiwe Mgandela.

On this day 37 years ago, students in Soweto took part in a peaceful march to protest against the unjust education system that was being forced on them.

Thirty-seven years later, when we refer to this day, “peaceful” is the last word one would ever use.

Bodies, blood and tears filled the ground while bullets, tear gas and screams filled the air.

The apartheid regime was taken by surprise and it quickly turned into an even nastier surprise for the students involved.

Looking back at the event, were the tears and bloodshed worth the results and outcome of the march? I cannot, as I sit here today, say it was worth it.

I am unable to weigh up the value of one’s life against the value of the freedom I have and enjoy as a result of the 1976 generation.

If asked that question, I can answer that I am grateful and fortunate to live in a society that young people of that era considered so special and fundamental that they were willing to sacrifice their lives for it.

Such courage and determination is foreign in this day and age.

I catch glimpses of it only when I read history books or listen to old people talking.

Where and how did it all go wrong with generations X and Y?

Are we to accept such references to ourselves?

Many think the youth of today are uninspired, lazy, and lack drive and ambition.

Cases of learners dropping out of school, cases of drug abuse, sexual abuse and rape seem like the order of the day.

How do we get this generation to act in the positive way that was displayed by the youth of 1976?

With emphasis on being progressive, driven, focused and ambitious about the future, and the impact they have on society.

As we celebrate June 16, how do we look to inspire and instil that positive culture in our youth?

How do we, without the help of government, look to make positive changes in the communities in which we live?

We are the custodians of the freedom we have and it is our responsibility to pursue that in our everyday actions.

Have a positive impact on yourself, your friends, your fellow citizens, your brothers, your sisters, your mothers and your fathers.

As we celebrate June 16, let us remember that the significance of this day is not about politics or our passive or proactive participation in the events organised by political parties.

This day represents our social responsibility to society.

As we enjoy our day off work, let us not forget that we have the power to set in motion a change in the character of South Africa’s youth and the country as a whole.

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