Youngsters hold memories close

Thobeka Dhlomo

Thobeka Dhlomo

The post-1994 youth do know why they celebrate June 16 as Youth Day. This is the day when black pupils took a stand against Bantu Education, and the last straw was the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

Today, 31 years on, we reflect on the aftermath of this day when protesting pupils were killed for standing up for what they believed in: justice, democracy, equality, and a decent education.

Young people who are reaping the fruits of this great struggle have different views about the significance of Youth Day today.

"I think Youth Day is a good day because we get to stay away from school and have a good day. I also know that Hector Pietersen died on that day, it's his day," said 16-year-old Gugu Mabandla.

"I think it is a day when we should all remember the kids who died while fighting for something worthwhile," said 21-year-old Kutloano Simelane.

One child that we all know of in relation to the uprisings is Hector Pietersen because the picture of him lying dead in the arms of Mbuyisa Makhubo with his distraught sister Antoinette next to them taken by Sam Nzima shocked the world.

He was not the only child who died on that day. Another was Hastings Ndlovu, about whom very little is known.

Clearly this day marked a turning point in the lives of all South Africans, especially black South Africans.

Can you imagine going to school today and being taught maths in Afrikaans? How about learning physics in Afrikaans? Sounds even worse.

"Youth Day is something that I hold very dear to my heart as a black person in South Africa," said 24-year-old Sethu Khoza.