Shasha Seakamela on Youth Day and the World Cup

Posted on June 17, 2010. Filed under: Reconciliation, World Cup |

Ah, wena, julle, this year June 16 brought a crushing defeat for Bafana Bafana at the soccer World Cup! Nonetheless, it is important that this very important day is South African history not pass by without reflection and commemoration. This is what the IJR’s SHASHA SEAKAMELA had to say…

To the Youth of today: Let us not kill the spirit of World Cup unity

Yesterday we celebrated June 16 – Youth Day.  It seems we may need to repeat an important message – in the spirit and commemoration of the brave youth of 1976, the youth of today need to become the driving forces of reconciliation and transformation in South Africa. Only now, youth face the continuing struggle of achieving a better life for all.

Young people of all races today can follow in the footsteps made by the youth of the 1970s by ensuring that they play a critical role in the development of the country. The youth of today are free because in the past, young people made great sacrifices for future generations –  this freedom has, in turn, brought about many opportunities.

Prospects for unity brought about by the World Cup soccer tournament are in the minds and hearts of many South Africans at the moment. It is also important to remember that Youth Day has always been a commemoration of the activism of young people of all races. Writing in the Cape Times on Tuesday, education specialist Graeme Bloch recalls the protest marches of 1976 led by University of Cape Town students:

“…So too UCT students marched blindly off campus when they headed towards the Cape Flats. Over 120 white UCT students were detained. The court roll shows most were 17, 18, 19 years old, while the oldest about 23.”

However, having attended numerous June 16 events myself, I often wonder about the noticeable apathy towards this day, particularly among white youth. This day is for all young people of South Africa, irrespective their racial background, and we should all actively participate and contribute constructively to the national debates and dialogue, on this day and beyond.

The World Cup has stimulated a spirit of unity among all South Africans. Let us use this opportunity as young people and citizens of this country and unite for a better future for all. South African youth have never been silent, and have always been active participants in the life of this nation. Let us trust that youth activism will not end, but will evolve to address the current challenges of transformation and nation-building. We have found a start, let us continue with it.

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