Mzansi's young celebs share what Youth Day means to them
While the 16th of June 1976 was a day that ended in tragedy, it has come to represent profound change in South Africa’s socio-political landscape.
Today, Youth Day does not only celebrate the youth of 1976, but it also highlights the overwhelming influence that young people have in society.
Youth Day means many things to many young people. While the Soweto Uprising was not in vain, various injustices and inequalities which still prevail in our society bear testimony to the phrase “it’s not yet uhuru”.
We asked some of our favourite celebs what it’s like to be a young person living in South Africa, as well as what Youth Day means for them.
NKANYISO MAKHANYA, 27
"The 16th of June is a day that holds great importance to me as a young person in South Africa. I am always mindful and grateful for the the strength, bravery, and sacrifice shown by the schoolchildren who put their lives on the line during the Soweto Uprising. It is also an important day for the youth to remember the power that we have to bring about change, especially in a time where we still have a lot progress to make as a country.
I feel very fortunate and blessed to have grown up in a democratic South Africa, and having the opportunity to dream and to see my dreams through. We still have a lot work to do as a country and I would love to live in a society where the rights of every man, woman, and child are upheld and where everyone gets a chance to chase their dreams."
CANDICE MODISELLE, 25
"June 16 means far more than an opportunity to take the day off. It’s acknowledging the sacrifices of our predecessors in order for us to appreciate the privileges we have at our disposal. It’s also being mindful that though the struggle against Apartheid is over, the war against systemic racism is far from done.
While I can never take for granted the major steps that have been taken in order for us to have the opportunities available to us, the work is not complete. We are still facing a number of harsh realities: unemployment, poverty, femicide, depression, sanitation, education and substance abuse, all of which continue to steal from the potential of South Africa’s youth. Just as those that walked before us, our fighting spirit as young black South Africans should remain fiery, using our privileges as a stepping stone to enable those without. Aluta continua."
LANGA MAVUSO, 26
"For me, Youth Day commemorates a sad moment in our history when the youth in this country took a stand for what they believed in. It is a reminder of how much was sacrificed in order for me to be here and to live out my own dreams. The rights and privileges I enjoy today were fought for with blood, sweat and tears, and that should never be taken for granted.
I was born in 1994, so my entire life has been in the so-called “rainbow nation” South Africa. My life as a young black man in South Africa has been better than that of my parents but still has many remnants of an unequal and prejudiced past. We’ve made many strides but still have a long way to go in fulfilling the hopes that live in our Freedom Charter. I hope that the next 25 years of freedom will see the upliftment of women and those who are underprivileged."
TEBOGO "PINKY GIRL" MEKGWE, 32
"To me, June the 16th is all about celebrating the bravery of young people in the years of apartheid South Africa. What we have now and what we can accomplish was never possible in those days. We need to celebrate it and embrace our new democracy. Happy Youth Month.
As a young person living in South Africa, I realise that anything is possible. There’s a better future for us. More information and guidance are available to us. I can do things I love. There’s so many opportunities to tackle for a brighter future. Just look around, keep searching for what you love. And remember to be yourself at all times."
MPHO SIBEKO, 26
"The 16th of June is a commemoration to the black youth of ’76 who rallied together to stand against an unjust system. Before 1976, and even currently, we’ve been witness to acts of solidarity in many different lights. Youth Day solidifies that the future is now. It shall forever be NOW, even in the years to come.
Living in a democratic society has seen a number of people achieve things our parents and ourselves believed were impossible. We are constantly in unprecedented times, forever changing in many aspects and to see a nation, even with its ills, manage to rise and progress ourselves to greater heights is what’s great about this South Africa. I’m yet to learn and see a lot but what the country has gone through won’t ever become a reality again. The only reality henceforth is equality!"
MAPASEKA KOETLE, 31
"Youth Day means standing up for what I believe in. I believe that’s what those students did in 1976. They stood together and fought for what they believed in, eventually overturning an oppressive education system. For me, the day means standing up for what I believe in and understanding that I should not back down. I should go for what I want and I should stand up for what I believe in.
As a young black female, living in a democratic South Africa has been great but also scary, especially with all the violence against females which is happening at the moment. The great side of it is that I am living my dream. I believed in my dreams and I went for what I wanted. But as a young black woman, I remain scared because of the femicide that’s been going on. Something needs to change!"