Youth urged to ‘take up today’s freedom challenges’


3 June 2014

While the youth of 1976 fought against apartheid, young South Africans of today should take up the fight against apathy, unemployment and HIV/Aids, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said at the launch of Youth Month at the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto on Monday.

Youth Day 2014 will mark 38 years since the 16 June 1976 Soweto uprising, when the apartheid government killed hundreds of school children who were protesting against the imposition of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in their schools.

With the advent of democracy 20 years ago, 16 June was proclaimed Youth Day in order to perpetuate the history and memory of the young South Africans who died for their country’s freedom.

It also has since become a platform for encouraging South Africans to make their own sacrifices and play their part in growing their communities and the country as a whole.

This year, the main Youth Day event will take place at Galeshewe stadium in Kimberly in the Northern Cape.

Mthethwa said the aim of Youth Month was to educate young South Africans about their history and heritage and the role played by young people in the country’s liberation struggle.

“During this month, we also encourage debates, discussions and conversations about the challenges that confront the youth of today and how they can take forward the baton of leadership. We will also use it to highlight government programmes and opportunities for youth development and how youth can access them.

The minister said the government also encouraged oral reminiscences by 1976 veterans “as part of sharing the experiences of 1976 and identifying and celebrating untold stories and unsung heroes and heroines in every community and every workplace while mobilising society in the implementation of Vision 2030”.

Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela said: “Collectively as young people we have to fight the scourge of HIV/Aids. We have to confront the challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“We have to be at the centre of changing our own lives. There is not going to be anyone, anywhere in the world who would do anything for us if we are not in the forefront of making a contribution to changing our own lives,” Manamela said.

“From the lessons of Hector Pieterson, Tsietsi Mashinini and many others who died 38 years ago, they did not sit back, wait, they didn’t say that someone will free us, they were in the forefront of defeating the apartheid regime.

“We are responsible for changing our own lives today as the current generation.”