Youth Day celebrations rock Orlando

2011-06-16 11:59

Thousands of energetic young people spilled into Orlando Stadium in Soweto this morning, to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the June 16 1976 Soweto uprising.

Drums were played in the background as the stadium filled up with colourfully-dressed youth, some who opted to be in school uniform.

Many sang and danced as they walked to the stadium entrance after being ferried, free of charge, by buses.

Revving their engines and billowing smoke, a group of bikers with ANC flags converged outside the stadium, waiting to welcome President Jacob Zuma, who was expected to give a keynote address.

Entertainment by various artists kept spectators glued to their seats as they cheered each act.

One song even got a group of grannies off their chairs, and moving to the beat.

A group of Ivory Park Secondary School matric pupils shared their feelings on the auspicious day.

“It means tons to me... those people fought for us in 1976, and now we can go to school,” Thokozani Mthembu said.

“This day is for those people who died for us.”

Elvis Pharu, a pupil, said his parents still considered June 16 to be a day of mourning and not celebration.

“My parents say on this day, in 1976, it was horrible and emotional because everything was planned properly, with no violence... And in the morning, they thought the day would end peacefully.

“But it ended with police shooting and the bloodshed of innocent children.

“To my parents this is a day of mourning, but for us it’s a day to celebrate our opportunities.”

Pharu added that the freedom he enjoyed today made him happy, also because it afforded him the opportunity to date outside of his race.

His classmate, Simon Voyiya, agreed.

“I’m proud to be in a country were there’s no such thing as race.

I would date a white girl, Indian girl, coloured girl, as long as they are not married,” Voyiya laughed.

Asked if his parents would be happy with that, he replied: “It’s a free nation.

My parents can’t do anything because it’s my choice. I’m sure they have heard of ubuntu.”

Mlungisi Ndaba said parents needed to educate their children on the importance of June 16.

“I think parents need to talk to children and talk about today, so that they know how important this day is, and won’t use drugs and alcohol,” Ndaba said.

“Education first. Beers later.”


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