Youth Day on 16 June is a public holiday in South Africa and commemorates a protest which resulted in a wave of protests across the country known as the Soweto uprising of 1976.
It is 45 years since the uprising by school students against the mandatory use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction and the violent response of the apartheid government. The shootings provoked protests throughout the country and intensified resistance to apartheid.
Youth Day this year is celebrated under the theme: “The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Growing youth employment for an inclusive and transformed society.”
It came in response to multiple issues with the Bantu Education Act and the government edict in 1974 that Afrikaans will be used as medium of instruction for certain subjects in black schools. The iconic picture of Hector Pieterson whose sister now works at a museum which honours Hector Peterson and his family claim that the apartheid regime spelled his name wrong, a black schoolchild shot by the police, brought home to many people within and outside of South Africa the effect of the struggle during the Apartheid government’s reign.
It is celebrated as a public holiday across South Africa to remember the brave students who protest against Afrikaans as the only medium of language for education.
Due to Alert Level 3 restrictions and the significant rise in COVID-19 infections, the commemoration will have a limited number of guests and key stakeholders, mainly youth, physically in attendance.
South Africans are invited to tune in on government digital platforms and major news channels to follow the day’s commemorative activities.
Youth Day is a holiday dedicated to the youths of a country. It is observed by 18 countries, on many dates throughout the year. The United Nations agreed on the date of 12 August in 1999.