South Africans and their youth on Monday commemorated an event that left dozens of students dead and injured in what became to be known as the Soweto Uprising some 38 years ago in 1976.The students rose up and demonstrated against the injustices of apartheid and the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in their schools, taking to the streets, where the apartheid police shot them down ruthlessly.
The protest is associated with the famous image captured by photographer Sam Nzima of a young Hector Peterson being carried by fellow Mbuyisa Makhubo, while Hector’s sister Antoinette Sithole ran alongside the fatally wounded Peterson.
Since the tragic events in the dusty streets of Soweto, 16 June has been commemorated as Youth Day and is a public holiday in South Africa, while the entire world observes it as International Youth Day as designated by the United Nations.
Youth Day is aimed at perpetuating the memory of those who died as well as carry on with their legacy and principles of selfless determination and devotion.
This year’s celebrations also took place within the context of celebrations of 20 years since the dawn of peace, freedom and justice and democracy in South Africa.
The first democratic elections were held on 27 April 1994, ushering in Nelson Mandela as the country’s first democratically leader of South Africa.