By Thembelani Moyo
Sowetans joined the rest of the country to commemorate Youth Month which is recognised in June every year to honour students who protested and lost their lives during the 1976 uprising against apartheid.
There were number of events that marked the celebrations throughout the month. On 14 June up to 25 June the Umoja: The Spirit of Togetherness was premiered at the Soweto Theatre.
In Eldorado Park, the celebrations were done with the aim of reducing use of drugs. Touch a Life Foundation organised a Mini Olympic event attended by community members, Local Drug Action Committee (LDAC) and the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA) and Health and Social Development MMC Mpho Phalatse.
During the event youths played games such as soccer, netball, volleyball and rugby. Speaking at the event Phalatse said young people are capable of changing their lives hat destroying them through use of drugs.
“Nineteen seventy-six was a fight for freedom. Blood was shed for the freedom of the young person. My question to youths today is: What are you doing with that freedom? We can’t complain that the government is not doing anything. There is a lot that has changed since 1976. Now, the ball is in our court. There is so much at our disposal. There are so many services that the government has on offer, such as skills development. In Eldorado Park there is a MOOV (Massive Open Online Varsity). There is no excuse for people to not do something with their lives,” Phalatse said.
In Orlando West there was a wreath-laying ceremony that was held at the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum and was attended by community members, Community Development MMC Nohlanhla Sifumba, City’s Speaker of Council Vasco da Gama, Gauteng Sports, Arts and Culture MEC Faith Mazibuko, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, Transport MEC Ismail Vadi, Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza and members of the June 16 1976 Foundation led by Dan Montsitsi and families of the victims of that fateful day such as Pietersen, Poppy Buthelezi and Mbuyiseni Makhubu.
“The Soweto 1976 uprising will forever be remembered in history as the time when young people said enough was enough and took a leading role in bringing the apartheid government to its knees. Our activities and programmes are reflective of that fact. We’re playing a very important role in youth empowerment. We believe that the best way to empower our youth is to link them to skills development and real employment opportunities,” Sifumba said.
In Moletsane Supreme Kids Entertainment, a youth organisation that trains locals in fashion design, modelling and events management held a celebration event at an open space at Lekala and Mokhobo Street near Tloholohelo Primary School. The event was under the theme Their struggle is our hustle. In Protea North some community members joined the Moss Tavern to do a clean-up and revamping of a local flower garden. The garden is near Rhema Church.