Youth Day: Through eyes of young journalist
By Liz Clarke
June 16 is Youth Day in South Africa, a national holiday that commemorates the courage and sacrifice of more than 20,000 students from Soweto who marched on that date in 1976 in protest of a government mandate that instruction be delivered in Afrikaans, which, in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was viewed as "the language of the oppressor." Police officers fired on the students, killing 23 that day and triggering the Soweto Uprising that galvanized the anti-apartheid movement and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of South African activists.
On Wednesday, as South Africans observed Youth Day, Lesego Masemola, 25, a reporter for the Pretoria News, agreed to share her views about the significance of the observance in an e-mail exchange. She wrote:
"As we commemorate the young women and men that fought left, right and centre for their freedom and right to education, it is a reminder to me, and should be to all young people in South Africa, that we have a lot to be grateful for.
"Today the young people of this country are still faced with many challenges. And it is through the spirit and vigor of the youth of 1976 that we should, at all costs, not try but make sure we overcome the challenges we are faced with today.
"As for me, I am taking a stand in the name and honour of the class of 1976 to arm myself with the education and the necessary knowledge I can acquire from everywhere to build myself up and to become a leader alongside the many young people that are honouring the class of 1976 by becoming educated.
"It is a pity that our white young South Africans choose not to relate for obvious reasons. But I feel that we should be past that, and the country needs to find ways, as much as our government claims to have unity among all South Africans, in which we can all find a fitting role to play in commemorating Youth Day, despite our past.
"Let's face it, our current challenges cannot be solved by solutions from the past, but today's challenges need a new approach from black and white South Africans, together."
June 16, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories: 2010 World Cup , South Africa | Tags: 2010 World Cup, Soweto Uprising, Youth Day
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