Grab your chance: June 16 Youth Expo in Johannesburg


“They shot at us; we fought back by throwing stones and using dustbin lids to block bullets which unfortunately went through and killed some of us,” said Mbulelo Musi, a survivor of the June 16, 1976 uprising. He was speaking to youngsters at the June 16 Youth Expo in Nasrec, Johannesburg.

“Take these opportunities and use them to your advantage,” he told them. Musi said nothing should be taken for granted.

The expo, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the protests, runs until 20 June. Its purpose is to showcase programmes aimed at accelerating efforts to transform young people’s lives.

In 1976, a peaceful protest by thousands of Soweto students against Afrikaans as a medium of instruction ended in bloodshed when apartheid police opened fire on them. Hundreds of youths were killed and several hundred others injured.

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Youngsters should focus on their future, said Gauteng’s MEC for education, Panyaza Lesufi. He compared the current education system to that of 1976.

“In 1976, the then government wanted learners to buy textbooks, now you get free tablets,” he said.

“In 1976, the apartheid government paid R2 008 for [education for] a white child and R146 for a black child, and now I can proudly say that we pay R1 177 for all children in our schools.”

Lesufi encouraged learners to never queue for things such as a social grant or RDP house, but rather to be able to pay for things themselves.

It was crucial for the current generation of young people to know where the country came from and how much progress had been made to advance youth development, said City of Johannesburg spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane.

“The City hopes to contribute to the eradication of youth unemployment and encourage young people to start businesses and chart their own future.”

Johannesburg, he said, was passionate about empowering and creating an enabling environment for the youth.

“We want to bring information to the people so they can take full advantage of the opportunities the City has to offer.”

Departments participating in the expo include Johannesburg’s community development, City Parks and Zoo, emergency management services, Johannesburg Metro Police Department and City Power.

Sources: City of Johannesburg and Gauteng Government