As we celebrate the 28 th anniversary of the Soweto uprising and commemorate Youth Day, we must ask ourselves whether the South African youth understand the historic significance of this day, and to look at why there is a lack of political activism amongst the young people.
Where I work (Volkswagen SA), I walked around asking workers these questions.
Some workers saw it as a day to relax and sit with their families or drink with friends since the time of struggling and toyi-toying is over. They do not see June 16 as a big day anymore.
u-Bawo u-Smith, who has been working in VW for more than 20 years, examined the attitude of today’s youth.
“It is not whether young people understand June 16,” Smith said. “They don’t know what happened on that day and they don’t even care. We as parents have a duty to tell them about our history. Because they are struggling to find out who they really are and they need all the guidance from us. If not us, then who?”
The celebrations and kwaito bashes that are happening throughout the country on this day should be watched carefully. If not, they will ultimately erase the memory of what June 16 was truly about. On that day South Africa ‘s youth took the future into their own hands.
A young man of 29 years, Bongani Kinikini, who is newly employed at VW, believes that the struggle of the youth continues. Unlike the 1976 youths under apartheid, who fought with stones and dustbin caps, today’s youth is faced with new struggles such as HIV/Aids, unemployment and economic imbalances which lead to crime.
“Now we face these challenges so we have to make a way for the next generation just like those who died for us on June 16.”
Youth today are the most confused and self-doubting. It is therefore necessary for workers and parents to sit down to fill the void by engaging their children in discussions about their rich heritage.
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds,” declared Bob Marley.