Dignity befits Youth Day

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

So where to now? This will be the apt theme of a panel discussion at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus on Youth Day tomorrow from 9am.

All schoolchildren are invited to attend the event.

Organiser Joyce Dube of the SABC's corporate social investment division said this week that the event had been designed to reinstate the dignity that Youth Day deserves.

"We have to start holding events in a manner that is different from the almost meaningless music bashes to commemorate Youth Day. A lot of young people laid their lives on the line and helped bring about a significant turning point in South Africa's social, political and cultural landscape," Dube said.

The event is due to feature speeches and debates by a number of prominent personalities.

SABC executives Dali Mpofu and Irhon Rensburg, Sibongile Mkhabela, the head of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, Ndaba Ntsele, an entrepreneur and head of black-led company Pamodzi, Thandi Ndlovu, businesswoman and 1970s student activist, and Victor Bogopane, also known as Doc Shebeleza, the leader of African Musicians Against HIV-Aids (Amaha).

Amaha has lined up performances by the Dube Youth, University of Johannesburg, and Anglican Holy Cross Church choirs, the SABC Choristers, gospel music star Deborah Fraser, maskandi artists Ihashi Elimhlophe and Amaponi, the people's poet Mzwakhe Mbuli and poetry orator Lebo Mashile.

Amaha, the SABC, and the Johnnic Communications-owned publications Sowetan and Sunday World have collaborated on fund-raising projects aimed at making a difference in the lives of countless fellow South Africans who are infected and affected by the HIV-Aids pandemic.

Amaha-affiliated performers entertain at no cost at these functions and the proceeds are distributed to various beneficiaries, particularly destitute families, child-headed households and HIV-Aids charities.

After the latest such fundraiser in February, R280000 was given to organisations supporting child-headed families affected by HIV-Aids. The money was distributed to the recipients by the SABC's Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng offices.

Mpofu, who had previously said that HIV-Aids "is a very serious issue for us as South Africans and Africans", said this week: "Poverty, health issues, education and drug abuse are all challenges that we, as a caring nation, must collectively fight head on."

During the same period, Amaha donated clothing and food worth more than R300000 to about 100000 families.

"Our holistic approach is to encourage individuals and musicians to develop a sense of social responsibility," Shebeleza said this week, repeating the statement he makes every time there is a spotlight on the good work that Amaha does.

lSowetan as a media sponsor collaborates with the SABC on several nation-building projects.

These include the Massed Choir Festival, together with the Transnet Foundation, Old Mutual and the Community Builder of the Year Awards.

These projects are part of the youth and community development programme of the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.