On 16th June we celebrate Youth Day – one of the biggest historical events that changed South Africa.
Youth Day commemorates a protest which resulted in a wave of protests across the country known as the Soweto uprising of 1976, also recognizing the young people of South Africa and how violence played a big role in transforming the country.
The grounds of the movement in the Soweto uprising, was because of the official order that Afrikaans (seen as the language of the oppressor) be made compulsory in schools. All of these resulted in anger and hate in students and teachers, leading up to protests – violent protests.
Young people now are still experiencing violence in different forms. Young people are being denied to meet their basic needs; the #FeesMustFall movement is proof of that. Students asked for free education; they were denied, which is a form of structural violence and things got out of hand. In both movements, it was intended that it would be peaceful protests. It started off as peaceful protest rallies, until violence was needed to voice what they feel.
The result of our history and the role of violence in transforming most of our country’s history have left more of a violent legacy behind, our country cannot shake off. According to Saferspaces.org.za, violence cuts across social status at home or among friends and violence in our communities has gotten out of control. Community members are killing each other, because of the anger and bitterness that lives inside them. ‘Individuals aged 15–34 years contributed the highest percentage of assault offenders, where the motive is usually because of anger or jealousy amongst family and friends; about 35, 1% of murder incidents in urban metros and 38,2% in rural areas were perpetrated by people aged 35–54 years, all causes of jealousy and financial problems’. [Bremund, D; 2016]
Speaking to a student who lives in the Kraaifontein community where violence in all forms happens daily. She says that youngsters kill each other for drugs, money and territory and it has become unsafe for anyone trying to build a home in the community. She adds that being a young woman in her community can be hard, because of the sexual remarks you often hear from boys and it makes you afraid of not knowing what could happen after that. “For what I saw in my community is that I don’t think anyone is doing anything in my community to change the situation; all I try to do is be a positive role model to young people and the children of my community, especially my little sister, because I think my community lack that” she explained.
Our history has left us an unfortunate legacy, yes! But it does not mean the future of South Africa and its people should live with it; having a day set out for remembering the lives of the youth that fought for freedom in the past, then we already one step ahead for transformation to happen.
- Bremund, D; May 06; 2016. Saferspaces; GIZ South Africa; StatsSA: Violent crime remains high and occurs at home and among friends. http://www.saferspaces.org.za/blog/entry/statssa-violent-crime-remains-high-and-occurs-at-home-and-among-friends