On the morning of Wednesday 16 June 1976, thousands of black students gathered to protest peacefully from their schools to Orlando Stadium, in Soweto. This peaceful protest was formed by the Soweto Student’s Representative Council, calling for students to pledge their solidarity against the apartheid government who had just given an official order which made Afrikaans compulsory as a medium of instruction in black schools throughout the country. The plan was to have the leaders address the students, and then end the protest. Little did the students know it would become one of the most tragic, yet profound moments in South African history.
While on their way, the demonstrating students were met by heavily armed police who fired teargas and later live ammunition. This resulted in a wide spread revolt that turned into an uprising against the apartheid regime government. While the uprising began in Soweto, it spread across the country and carried on until the following year.
The aftermath of the events of June 16, 1976 had dire consequences for the apartheid government. Images of the police firing on peacefully demonstrating students led an international revulsion against South Africa as its brutality was exposed. This was a key turning point in South Africa, which birthed the freedom of future generations. In 1995, the newly-elected democratic government declared the 16th of June a national holiday and is now celebrated as Youth Day – to acknowledge the debt owed by all South Africans to the students who gave their lives in Soweto on 16 June 1976.
Today South Africa has one of the youngest population in the continent, yet young people in South Africa struggle with finding their voice. Survival pressures and current daily life challenges seem to be too overwhelming for young people in townships as life has hurt, disappointed and confused them. They are robbed of their big dreams due to societal issues such as; POVERTY –CRIME – DRUG & ALCOHOL ABUSE – UNEQUAL ACCESS to RESOURCES AND QUALITY EDUCATION.
For any society to prevail, hope must be restored. And for hope to be restored in the daily lives of young people in South African townships, we need to draw lessons from history. The 1976 June 16” SOWETO UPRISING” is the most important tale in our books of history. It reminds us of the BRAVERY displayed by over 10 000 young people from Soweto who got together to march for a noble course and turned the tides of history.
#WeUprising Reflecting on the past & rising towards the future #WeRiseTogether
#WeUpRising Youth long sleeve unisex T-shirts are available in black and in red. Buy one now to support the movement & empower township youth today.
10% of the total proceeds will be donated to a local youth empowerment program
Are you ready to be a change maker? Help us achieve our 2030 vision. Your action will directly contribute towards reigniting the township economy on 16 June 2021 & empower young people in Soweto. You can take action by: