HONOURABLY REVISITING THE PAST
By: Palesa Matjebele
Over 40 years ago, June 16, 1976 saw the Youth uprising just outside Johannesburg in Soweto Township. Even though the movement came to peak in 1976, it had since been mobilised in 1974 when the apartheid-reinforcing Afrikaner language was made to be compulsory as language of instruction in the Bantu education era; the uprising was not only as a result of Education but by that of the control system as a whole, the uprising was aimed at addressing and confronting the apartheid demons that tormented the South African country where diversity was immensely shunned and deviously discouraged in any way possible.
The collaboration between the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) and the South African Students Organisation (SASO) successfully managed to influence students of colour to detox from the slavery mentality and fight for the right to Education with no limitations, let alone boundaries; almost 10 000 students who had started with the protests in their small classrooms later gathered for a peaceful March towards the Orlando stadium, while over over 20 000 took to the streets. The peacefully marching students collided with police brutality soon after the Police ordered for the dismissal of the March, with heedlessness. Numbers of the lives lost in the fateful day meant for redemption reached whooping number of 176, where the likes of Hector Peterson’s lives were short-lived.
It is of no surprise that to this day, every year in that day, the commemoration is held in respect for the bravery and appreciation of those whose blood were shed in truth. The remarkable legacy left by the youth of 1976 is worthy of every moment of silence granted; the undeniable sacrifices that resulted in the innocent blood shed deserves equal recognition for the actions of goodwill. This is by no means just a regular holiday where citizens get a day off and where booze is freely indulged until the sun comes up the following day, and should not be treated as such!
It is not only sad but a shame, to witness an era where people find pleasure in degrading the only day meant to honour the Country’s young heroes. No equal action is expected, but certainly no action of disrespect is expected either. The concept of wearing school uniform in celebration of the day is unspeakably degraded in a way that no significance is left, it’s of wonder to see a full South African youngster benefiting from all the rewards of even better, Free Education sporting a neatly ironed dungarees, shirt, tie and a shining pair of shoes only to go to some shady drunkard place.
Indeed, there is a huge transition from the youth of 1976 and the youth of today, but the transition is not that one can be proud of. The actions of the 1976 youth clearly demonstrated what they really stood for and education was seemingly an integral part of their daily lives, well the same can’t be said about the modern youth of today as the forever revised curriculum to their advantage is not thoroughly utilised. Surely there must be perceptual misinterpretations along the lines of liberation and the purpose as a whole.