Reflecting on the past and rising towards the future
#WeUprising is a movement that seeks to bring together noble people from
across the globe in the service of a common good to honour and commemorate
Youth Day on the 16th of June, and to uplift young people who are at the bottom of
the economic scale in South African townships.
Our purpose is to harness the power of community to bring about economic prosperity practically to the doorstep of township people. As of the year 2021, the movement and Partners aim to help inject a minimum of R1million into the local township economy on the day of June 16 through #WeUprising Programs and the June 16 Vilakazi Street Experience, while delivering a world class cultural experience for participants. When this idea is adapted and adopted more widely, we will help inject R1 billion into the township economy by the year 2030 and improve the quality of life for millions of township people.
#WeUprising programs are driven by the local community, where participants are invited to an annual commemoration activity; in a form of a 4km commemoration walk & wreath-laying ceremony, then followed by a wonderful brunch experience at the famous Vilakazi Street in Soweto. Inspired by the Soweto Uprising of 1976, #WeUprising creatively provides an organized context for political inquiry and for ordinary people to actively participate in creating an African society that is delivered from the clutches of inequality, grounded in community, and evolving toward economic prosperity.
Founded by creative youth enterprise SOWSA (PTY) LTD in 2019, the first annual #WeUprising commemoration activity was held on 16 June 2019
.The movement launched via a 4km walk activity to pay tribute to the class of 1976. The walk started at Morris Isaacson High School at 08:am and ended at the Hector Pieterson Museum, Orlando West, Soweto, and joined the annual ‘Wreath- laying ceremony’ from 9:30 – 10:30. Over 500 participants attended the event on the day of the launch.
#WeUprising created awareness about township plights and provided participants with an opportunity to:
- Express their concerns about day-to-day life with a focus on Nyaope and Township Development
- Set the agenda for solutions (as people who live in the township and understand it)
- Educate the world about issues faced by the youth in South African townships
Another essential part of the #WeUprising walk concept is to change the narrative of violent protests in South Africa, by creating a peaceful platform to tackle socio-economic issues. The walk is a fun & memorable experience that sees people walking side by side, singing and dancing to music from a sound truck along the route. When the walk reaches the finish-point, a youth representative selected by the movement, delivers a formal address as part the annual wreath-laying ceremony program with the city government.
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.