Cold is no damper on youth event

Monday night's bitter cold and rain could not dampen the excitement of Johannesburg's inner city youth as they celebrated Freedom Day.

The event, which was organised by the June 16 Youth Foundation, was called the Freedom Day Eve Candlelight Walk and saw more than 500 youths and members of various religious affiliations march through the streets of Johannesburg.

Seth Mazibuko, pictured, a former student leader and Robben Island political prisoner and chancellor of the foundation, said the occasion was "more of a prayerful event than a political one".

He explained that the march was also meant to unite the youth of Africa, "more especially after the dreadful xenophobic attacks of 2008".

"Today's gathering goes beyond political, ideological and racial boundaries. It brings together our brothers and sisters (from outside South Africa) in the inner city, to say let us unite and give thanks to those who died for the freedom we enjoy."

Participants first gathered at the Berea Fire Station on Louis Botha Avenue and proceeded along Claim Street, finally ending with a prayer at the Drill Hall in the CBD.

Youths who took part wore white T-shirts and carried candles as they made their way through the streets.

Mazibuko was pleased with the turnout but was concerned about the attitude of the country's youth and their "lack of appreciation" for such days.