Young South Africans should focus on the opportunities presented to them by the current government and exercise the rights the youth of 1976 fought for, writes Nthambeleni Gabara
The month of June is Youth Month which commemorates the 16 June 1976 uprisings.
Black youths in schools in Soweto stood up against the apartheid government's attempts to enforce Bantu education laws in schools.
They refused to use Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in their schools and came up against harsh police action.
Several students were killed when students took to the streets in protest. Police opened fire on the students before they could peacefully disperse.
The photograph of student activist, Mbuyisa Makhubu holding the body of 14-year old Hector Peterson captured the events of the day and will forever linger in the minds of many South Africans.
During those turbulence years many of today's struggle heroes were referred to as terrorists by the apartheid government. They were forced into exile to escape being imprisoned or worse.
However, this did not stop them from giving guidance and direction to the youth to end apartheid in South Africa and usher in democracy.
Through Radio Freedom, which was broadcasted from Tanzania, young people were told to resist all racial and discriminatory laws.
However today, South Africa's youth enjoy a government which often abandon tight schedules to interact and listen to the concerns of the youth.
There are various platforms where officials are able to brief young people about the available opportunities in various government departments including Youth Izimbizos, provincial Youth Parliaments and the numerous youth development structures at community level.
By commemorating Youth Month and Youth Day, the youth are presented with even more opportunities to ensure government hear their voices.
The focus of the youth month programme for this year is on urging young people to commit themselves to remembering the sacrifice of the generation before them.
Throughout the month various activities across the country aimed at empowering young people economically and socially are being planned.
In the build up to this year's Youth Day the Gauteng Premier and his MEC's visited different areas across the province as part of the Youth Izimbizo campaign.
The North West Provincial Legislature kicked off with its Youth Month activities with regional workshops which will culminate in a sitting of the Youth Parliament on 20 June. The National Youth Parliament comprises of 118 participants selected from all over South Africa.
On Monday thousands of South Africans are expected to converge at various events being staged throughout the country to celebrate the day in which many still bears the scars of the past.
President Thabo Mbeki is expected to address the main event to be held in Cape Town.
In the Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela is expected to give the youth of the province something to smile about, but it will only be revealed on the day.
Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Firoz Cachalia said freedom was about development and government was committed to empowering the current young generation socially, educationally and economically.
This year a call is being made to the youth of the country to actively participate in further entrenching democracy and the values enshrined in the Constitution as well as to push the boundaries of the progress achieved in the 14 years of democracy. - BuaNews