By Zahid Jadwat
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Salaamedia’s editorial stance.
As we honour the heroes of 1976, we must realize the need for young South Africans to embark on a campaign of our own.
Today marks 44 years since the Soweto Uprising, a pivotal event in the campaign against the preposterous policies of apartheid and the eventual destruction of the regime itself. Today, youth must continue with a campaign of our own, albeit with different aspirations in a different context.
When approximately 10 000 young men and women took to the streets of Soweto on June 16, 1976, they were met with fierce police fire and what started as an innocent protest soon turned into a horrible bloodbath.
The official death toll is given as 176, but some estimates suggest as many as 700. Today, June 16 is celebrated as Youth Day in memory of those who participated in the long struggle for justice.
There’s much to be grateful for. The bounty of democracy, for one, is a prerequisite to our struggle heroes. It can neither be taken for granted nor be bartered for any offer.
Today, the struggle continues. The new generation must take on the duty to maintain the crusade for a better future because, quite frankly, the struggle isn’t over; it has been recast.
The challenge is upon us to ensure that universal access to decent education becomes a reality. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how the harsh inequality crisis determines education patterns in the country.
Pit latrines need to be abolished and eliminated. In 2018, after one of the many incidents of pit latrine drowning, President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed that South Africa would eradicate pit latrines in state schools within two years. However, nearly 4000 schools out of a total of 25,000 in South Africa had pit latrine toilets by the end of 2019. Withal, 61 schools in the Eastern Cape are said to be without any toilets at all. It shouldn’t be that we wait for the next loss of life to spur us into forming a campaign to demand decent sanitation at our schools.
Time for the battle against youth unemployment is being lost quickly. Youth account for 63.4% of the total number of unemployed people in the country. If we don’t act against the issue of youth unemployment, poverty will be perpetuated for generations to come.
We must activate the campaign to crush the shameful presence of corruption in all tiers of society. We cannot afford to have the potential of our future ruined by the disregard of arrogant crooks.
We must say “not in my name” when it comes to gender-based violence and join the fight with personal commitment. The fight against the scourge begins with each individual applying their own willpower to resist perpetrating or participating in any form of violence. None of us should participate in any of these despicable actions.
It is up to the aspiring young community to effectuate and lead the campaign to fix the disarray we find ourselves in. We can’t play the blame game for much longer because doing so costs us valuable time. It is time for us to rise against the challenges and dive into the forefront of the fight for a better future.
Whether it was the Soweto Uprising of 1976 or the #FeesMustFall protests of the more recent past, youth have always played an important role in shaping the future. There has always been an opportunity for youth to initiate change for the better – we just need to lay hold of it, stand up and forge on!
Featured image via Twitter.