South African youth speaks out on what June 16th means to them and how they are giving back in their respective fields. It’s been 45 years since the Soweto youth revolted against the poor quality of education in South Africa.
South Africa pays homage to these young people every year on this day, which is a public holiday commemorated as Youth Day.
Self-taught nail technician and small business owner, Robyn, deems the holiday significant in the country’s history.
“It is the day the forerunners of our generation fought for our rights to fair and equal treatment. It is one of the reasons, I was a born free, can enjoy the benefits of a good education and the freedom to choose my own future and career path,” she says.
She gives back by using her business, Painted Pebble, as a way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by providing custom-made press on nails.
“I believe the product I offer positively aids in countering the spread of the virus. Painted Pebble offers fully customised press on nails with minimal human contact. My product reduces face-to-face contact with each set delivered to your doorstep.”
Author and publisher, Amanda, says Youth Day represents the ongoing inequalities in the country’s education system.
“Youth Day signifies the history of our country’s unequal education system and reminds us still of those inequalities. It reminds me of the high unemployment crisis that our youth face.”
Amanda gives back by giving youth a voice.
“I’m an author and publisher helping to give voices to more youth. I have published a book in which young artists tell their stories and how they have managed to bring positivity to their struggles. I hope to involve more young people and expose them to skills so that they can improve their lives.”
Sihle says she is inspired by the youth of 1976 to make an impact in the lives of others.
“This day makes me appreciate and reflect on the journey of our history. It also encourages me to honour the youth of 1976 by making a significant impact as a young woman.”
Although she hasn’t found enough resources, Sihle says she gives back to her community by encouraging youth to live a quality life.
“I encourage other young people to live their best lives and be true to themselves. I believe I embody that kind of personality. I would like to do more in my community but it can be challenging when you also come from a place that can be distrustful, especially when you’re trying to focus on your goals.”
Meanwhile, small business owner, Sikhona, says not much has changed since the Soweto uprising in 1976.
“Although I do respect the youth of 1976, this day does not bring up much emotion for me. It’s just a public holiday because as a young person in 2021, I don’t feel there’s much improvement from all those years ago.”
She says although unemployed, she helps her community wherever she can.
“I am one of those affected by the high unemployment in this country. My community can be discouraging but I would like to do better for myself. I have a few small businesses and help wherever I can.” – Compiled by Sesona Mahlahla and Celestine Hendricks.