On the morning of the 16th June 1976, thousands of black students were partaking in a peaceful protest rally from their schools to the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg. An official order was passed which made the use of local languages in these schools prohibited. Afrikaans and English were to be made the official languages of the country.
The protest was an attempt to plead with the government not to make Afrikaans compulsory in schools. But things got out of control when the apartheid regime police were called in to disperse the crowds before any riots broke out. As a result, hundreds of students were killed.
The 16th of June is now recognised as a day that both honours those who lost their lives and celebrates all young people. Marches are often held throughout Soweto. In more recent years, Youth Day has been a great opportunity to address the concerns facing young people today. Music and dance festivals have also become a traditional way of celebrating the vibrant energy of youth.
Not only does youth day give us the opportunity to celebrate the bright young minds of the future, but it is also a day that reminds of the significant events that took place on the 16th of June. The celebrations will be taking place tomorrow, on Saturday.
Happy Youth Day one and all!
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