On June 16th, South Africans engage in the annual celebration of Youth Day. It was on this day in 1976 that Black youth within Soweto Township came together to protest against the apartheid-run education system, which segregated students on the basis of ethnicity. Although these protests in 1976 resulted in a number of casualties, they also played an enormous role in enhancing the African National Congress’s ability to eventually overcome the inequality and oppression caused by apartheid. In this way, the youth who protested, and in some cases even sacrificed their lives, did so to ensure that everyone had right to a fair education, freedom and equality.

Today the Soweto Uprising and the celebration of Youth Day continues to contribute to the empowerment of individuals of all ethnicities in the Republic of South Africa. Celebrating Youth Day is an opportunity for South Africans to reflect on the progress that has been made in recent decades. A lot has changed since 1976: a democratic government is now in place, eligible citizens are able to access free education, and gaps between the rich and the poor have begun to decrease. It is important to educate today’s youth about the sacrifices made by previous generations, and to empower them to work to overcome the social issues that do continue to persist within the country. To this end, Madulammoho Housing Company hosts an event each year at Cruyff Court in Hillbrow, Johannesburg to commemorate this significant occasion.

On Youth Day of this year, Madulammoho’s event elicited over 200 hundred youth from the Hillbrow community who came to partake in snacks, games, and speeches by various community members, including members of the Hillbrow SAPS , the Cruyff Court Coach John “Bull” Sibeko, and Louis Tebogo, a social worker from MES. Each speaker educated the youth about the history of Youth Day, before going on to speak about the different social issues that are prevalent within the Hillbrow community, such as HIV/AIDs, teenage pregnancy, poverty, drugs, and crime. The speakers also presented information pertaining to the resources that are available for youth to assist in overcoming these obstacles, such as educational opportunities and programs offered within the community. As Louis stated, “The youth are our future and when we are addressing these social issues it is important to act and not just talk. We must expose them to programs available in the community, so they are able to spend their time constructively.” Many of the children’s parents are seldom home, so they are often left unsupervised.

By holding such an event, Madulammoho hopes to not only educate and empower the youth to participate in the programs available to them, but also to bring the community together. The organization aspires to encourage the continual growth of the community on a daily basis. Youth Day serves as a poignant reminder of a powerful moment in history, and this date should not only inspire youth, or South Africans, but the entire world.

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