16 June 1976: Youth Day

The biggest misconception about Youth Day in South Africa is that it has been termed the ‘Soweto Uprising’, in other words, that 1976 was a Soweto struggle. In truth, 1976 was a classroom and lingua struggle for all the youths in South Africa who were against being taught in the language Afrikaans. January of 1954 legitimised the Bantu Education Act, making it compulsory for black children to attend government schools and learn specific subjects in Afrikaans. Prior to this, most black children only had access to schools run by missions that were understaffed and poorly attended.

After 1994, the 16th of June was set aside as a public holiday in South Africa to honour the bravery, courage, and sacrifice of the bold youth constituents at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid and Bantu education. Young people are remembered for their determination to fight for their rights and for not flinching in the face of danger and violent oppression by the apartheid regime

This day should be used as an opportunity to remind South Africans of the importance of their youth and the power they have to address the concerns and challenges facing them.