The events of June 16, 1976 forever changed the history of South Africa.
Several thousand students marched peacefully to protest against a directive by the Apartheid government, which had made the Afrikaans, the language spoken by the dominant White minority, required for all as a medium of instruction.
On their way to the Soweto rally the students were met by armed police, who launched teargas and fired live ammunition. The incident led to a revolt and eventually a sustained nationwide uprising against the government.
Youth Day in South Africa is celebrated in memory of all the youngsters who lost their lives during the protest, including Hector Pieterson, a 12 year-old student. Images of Pieterson being carried through the streets led to international revulsion and political action against South Africa’s brutal regime.
Youth Day reminds us of the power of young people to organize for positive change. Support the young people in your life to educate themselves about democracy and justice, and to work toward transforming the world for the better.
Photo: Sam Nzima