The three youthful HEARTLINES interns share what Youth Day and Youth Month means to them …
What Youth Month means to me
By Lonwabo Jabanga
Youth Month means a lot to me because this is the month we are reminded of how young people in 1976 fought for the quality of life we are enjoying today. June 16th to me is a day of sacrifice and courage where high-school students and even some primary school students took to the streets to rebel against a detrimental system. Though the day ended in tragedy, illness their legacy remains with us.
During my school days, thumb Youth Day was just another day where I didn’t need to go to school. We would organise trips not to celebrate Youth Month but to throw our own parties. Other people were wearing their school uniforms in remembrance; I thought it was a total waste of time.
The day came when we went to Orlando to learn about why we should celebrate Youth Month – that was the day my thoughts changed. Seeing how people were gunned down in the streets just because they were fighting for their rights made me see why we need to commemorate this month and give thanks for those who fought for our rights and the opportunities we have today.
My neighbour was a student at Orlando Secondary School at the time, treat so he was there when it happened. Every time I ask him about it, he remembers like it was yesterday. As he recalls the events, his eyes usually fill up with tears especially when he mentions his close friends and family who died on that day and those that were arrested, beaten up, tortured or forced to suffer all sorts of humiliation.
What makes it hard for the youth to really take Youth Month seriously or see the importance of the month is how the month is celebrated by people we love, celebrities such as DJs and actors. The parties and the drinking sprees take away the importance of the month as we are more focused on which party to go to than remembering what happened in the past.
I believe that more should be done to teach us about the importance of Youth Month so we can change the way we behave or feel about this month. As Oscar Wilde said, “I am not too young to know everything.”
Youth Day – do we still care?
By Dimakatso Songoane
I don’t think that the youth really care about Youth Day – well, I don’t. For me Youth Month is just like any other month.
I only understood the history of the day when I got older, probably in high school. I have honestly never celebrated Youth Day and have never seen the point. The day was, and still is a day for young people to dress up in their school uniforms and go partying: this is our way of commemorating June 16th.
Youth Day has lost its real meaning. Before, people would commemorate the day by remembering those who lost their lives on 16 June 1976; it was a day of celebrating those fallen heroes. Now things have changed.
Each year there’s an event happening, supposedly ‘commemorating’ this day: there are annual back-to-school parties happening everywhere. I just see these events as a way for event planners or companies to make a quick buck.
I’m always at home on Youth Day; I mean, what’s there to celebrate? Should I also go out with a group of people, wear my school uniform, and get drunk? I don’t think so. But I do not judge people who celebrate this day by partying.
A friend of mine said the day only means two things to her: one, that it is her grandmother’s birthday and, two, that there is a back-to-school party on the day.
Before you go and celebrate Youth Day or Youth Month, ask yourself this: would those fallen heroes be proud of what we’ve become as the youth; of how we are commemorating their lives? Are we thanking them in the best way we can for the privileges we now have based on what they suffered on our behalf?
What Youth Month means to me
By Boitumelo Makgoba
To me June 16th is a day celebrated by the youth to honour and show respect to the heroes who made it possible for us to have the lives that we now have. Youth Day in South Africa commemorates the Soweto uprising in the country and recognises the role of young people in the liberation of South Africa.
But being young does not mean being oblivious; rather, it means to approach every day, every situation with newness. To have expectations that aren’t governed by previous failures but to believe, hope and yearn for something new.
As a young person I believe we have a responsibility to wisely use the freedoms we have been given. This year was the first time I voted and it was special and unforgettable moment I treasure – the freedom of being able to vote.
Young people approach situations with excitement and hope. Being young means being open to new possibilities and believing that with God anything is possible. Youth Month reminds me that there are endless possibilities; I can be anything I want to be and can learn from my own mistakes.
Youth Day reminds me to channel my fresh ideas and perspectives in a way that inspires and empowers us as youth to make a difference in our communities and beyond. As an intern at HEARTLINES I am reminded that the future is in our hands as young people.
I am grateful to our brothers and sisters who fought and bled on our behalf in the streets of Soweto. They wanted nothing but freedom, and I thank them for making our lives easier.