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‘It means nothing’: SA youngsters on what Youth Day means to them

Another Youth Day has come and it appears the day is quickly losing significance to South African youth. Speaking to people ranging from 15 to 35, we asked what the day means to them and how they think things have changed since apartheid ended years ago.

Unsurprisingly, many of them shared that these days Youth Day is nothing to them but a public holiday. Others blasted the government for failing to ensure that youth have better opportunities.

The significance of Youth Day

Every year on 16 June, South Africans celebrate Youth Day to commemorate the Soweto Uprising, which took place on 16 June 1976, where thousands of students were ambushed by the apartheid regime as they protested against oppressive apartheid education policies.

Photos and videos from the massacre went viral resulting in many countries across the world building a revulsion against South Africa as its brutality was exposed.

Years later, South African youth have shared their thoughts on the significance of Youth Day, and judging by their responses, many of them have innate feelings of hopelessness and lack of trust in the current administration.

A number of them have shared that the sacrifices made by the students in 1976 may have been in vain as not much has been achieved in terms of giving South African youth affordable and quality education and even more so, opportunities for development.

Robyn Walters said:

“Personally, I don’t feel like anything that has happened in the past has any effect on what’s currently happening today, it’s actually sad to remember days like Youth Day and what people had to through just to be acknowledged – knowing now that it was mostly all for nothing. Racism is still at an all high, the country is in a bad way, the inflation we currently experiencing. I’m still waiting for a better South Africa.

Etienne Chalklen commented:

“Youth day has only memorial significance in most people’s life, born into freedom, the story of how it came to exist does not resonate with them. National pride and patriotism is being overshadowed by woke/cancel/gen- culture. And we don’t get the just of past struggles, shaping the future any longer. That being said, we have become a kinder people, in the years of the Gen-Z’ers. Woke culture is essentially about teaching people to be more cognizant of how people act and react to different and new social settings/norms. And I’m here for it – this is after all what we fought for right – a kinder generation?”

While Briony said:

“I feel like it’s a a day off, I personally haven’t noticed or received any help from government when it comes to youth and youth developments, I plans have been put in place for course but as these are long term solutions, I doubt I will apart of the real new South Africa, where the youth is apart of the decision making and the economic growth of Countries GDP.”

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