Today we celebrate youth day in South
Africa. It is a commemoration of
what happened in Soweto in June 1976. On this day 20 000 students marched
through Soweto. They protested
against being educated in Afrikaans.
The peaceful protest turned violent after a policeman fired a shot into
Last year I hung a poster in my office that
explores the meaning of this day.
It says in bold “THE YOUTH TAKE CHARGE” and under the title Mandela is
quoted saying that,
people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and
raising the banners of freedom”.
In the poster
some youths hold posters with all kinds of slogans. One states,
“To hell with
“If we must do
Afrikaans, Vorster must do Zulu”
As some of you
may know, South Africa has eleven national languages. Afrikaans is one of them. But it was the language of the oppressor. The language that is my mother tongue
was used as a tool of oppression.
Dit maak my hart baie seer.
Since 2003 I’m trying
to learn the language of the new South Africa. Days like today helps me to understand the vernacular of
South Africans who were oppressed.
One of my high school friends had a very famous picture of this day in
his room. Every time I visited him
I saw the picture but never asked him why it was there. It stayed in the background as a symbol
of pain and sorrow … of someone else.
I never felt the need to enquire why it was there or what it signified.
I post the
picture below, if you want to read further you can look here .
PS> I'm adding this comment of my friend Emtia. Someone else who is also learning about the new SA …
A few years ago I visited the Regina Mundi church where the tragedy occured.
There is a statue of Jesus without hands. According to our guide (who survived that fateful day), the children broke the hands off trying to escape from the church.
It wasn't restored to remind us that we are now the hands of Jesus.
It really made a deep impression on me.