#YouthDay: 'Being young does not mean being oblivious' - Masego Khambule

2016-06-18 13:45
Masego Khambule (Supplied to News24)

Masego Khambule (Supplied to News24)

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#YouthDay - June 16, 1976 is known as the Soweto Uprising. The uprising ended tragically with many young people losing their lives at the hands of the apartheid regime for protesting against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

On that day, security police had arrived at Naledi High and attempted to arrest the student movement's leaders, in retaliation students threw stones at the policemen, overturned and burnt their cars.

During my childhood, Youth Day was just a day where I didn't have to go to school. People wore uniform in remembrance. I thought it was a total waste of time. I had always been ignorant of what happened in 1976 but after being taught about the events of 1976 in school I realised that I was in the dark about our history.

The day (and month) has increasingly lost its meaning over the last four decades. This is because of how the month is celebrated by people we look up to, such as celebrities including DJ’s and actors. The parties and drinking sprees take away the importance as we are more focused on which party we are going to than on remembering what happened in the past.

What does Youth Day mean to me?

Youth Day is a day that means a lot to me because it is a day on which we are reminded of how the previous generation of young people fought for the education we are enjoying today.

June 16 to me is a day of sacrifice and courage where high school students took it to the streets of Soweto and rebelled against a detrimental system. Though the day ended in tragedy, their legacy remains with us.

Being young does not mean being oblivious, rather, it means approaching every day and every situation with newness. To have expectations that aren't governed by previous failures but to believe, hope and yearn for something new as young people.

I believe we have a responsibility to wisely use the freedom we have been given. This day reminds me to channel my fresh ideas and perspectives in a way that inspires and empowers us as youth to make a difference in our community and beyond.

As someone who goes to Naledi High I am reminded that the future is in our hands as young people. Youth Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, the ability to lead an impactful life. I am grateful to our forebears who fought and bled on our behalf on the streets of Soweto. They wanted nothing but freedom and the best for their children, and their children's children.

We walk in their footsteps

We are guided by their principles

We learn by their humanity.

Their legacy will inspire for eternity

* Masego Khambule is a Grade 9 learner at Naledi High School in Soweto; one of the schools whose learners participated in the historical June 16 march 40 years ago.

- News24 gave the youth a voice on our platforms for Youth Day. A group of learners share their thoughts with you. What does Youth Day mean to you? Let us know your thoughts here.

Read more on:    soweto  |  youth day  |  soweto40

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