The forth coming 46th commemoration of the 1976, June 16 Uprisings that began in Soweto and spread throughout the country presents an opportunity for reflection on the current state of the nation and of the youth and their role in strengthening our constitutional democracy and the advancement of human rights.
The 1976 June Student Uprisings were a significant turning point in the struggle against the brutal and oppressive apartheid system and most certainly quickened the demise of this racist and devise system of racist of government.
The Uprisings also marked a greater involvement of the youth in the struggle against the oppressive and exploitative regime – a struggle for a better and free South Africa. Many young people sacrificed their lives for this struggle whilst others were arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms and others were forced to live the country. Over 20 000 students took part in the Uprisings and more than 176 people are said to have been killed and over a thousand injured.
The heroic efforts of the young people of Soweto for a better life and better governance have been recognised all over the world – June 16 is now an official holiday in South Africa and is also designated as the Day of the African Child in 1991 by the African Union.
Despite the efforts of young people in 1976 in Soweto and throughout the country and their efforts and contribution in the struggle for a freed and democratic South Africa; 46years after the Soweto Uprising and 28 years since the advent of democratic rule in South Africa the state of good governance and service delivery are not satisfactory. The country is severely affected by high levels of corruption, unemployment, poverty, violence and poor governance of both public and private bodies that affects the provision of health, education and many other essential services. What is of particular concern is the state of the youth today -the youth as one of the biggest population groups in the country is most affected by high levels of unemployment and violence.
The sad state of affairs in the country today has seen may young people/youth disengaging from the necessary on-going struggle for a better tomorrow and a better South Africa, a South Africa where the aspirations of our people for a society where people will lead their lives without fear and want, where there will be jobs, quality education and health services, and where no one will go to bed hungry in a country that is so rich and blessed with natural resources. The sad current state of affairs is also characterized by high levels of violence and crime amongst our youth. The country is also experiencing high levels of substance abuse and suicide rates amongst young people and youth.
It is in this regard that SAIRAG in the context of the commemoration of the 46th anniversary of the Soweto Uprisings calls upon the young people and youth of our country to emulate the heroic efforts of the youth of 1976 and join the necessary struggle for a better South Africa once more.
Out country and our people today desperately need the same fighting spirit that our young people and youth displayed in June 1976. The struggle for better governance of the democratic South Africa needs and a free and democratic South Africa the youth of 1976 contributed towards with their lives blood. The struggle of the youth of 1976 should not be in vain.
12 June 2022