June 16th – Morena boloka sechaba sa Heso

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What is in a day, or in a date? Does the date itself carry with it a certain potency for significant things to unfold. Whether or not one believes this, June 16 has been important to the world and to South Africa. It has come to be associated with the Soweto student Uprising against Afrikaans as a language of instruction and examination, and yet so much more has happened on this day (both globally and in South Africa) that it being brought into focus is important. As such June 16 is perhaps commemorated for a lot less than what it means. It is not communicated enough and a lot more can be done to give the day and the events of June 16, 1976 the attention that it deserves, not as a history lesson but as ammunition for guarding our freedom. Herewith are some important events that happened on June 16.

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Evidently, June 16 is a day of manifestation. On this day things untold become a revelation. It is a day of confession, a day when truth is told and the deepest of feelings roam freely. It is a chapter in a book that is continuously being written and not one that has been closed. South Africa has dedicated this day to the youth and to the memory of their contribution to the liberties that we enjoy today. More importantly, it is a recognition of the fact that the youth represents the future of this country. It is important therefore for the youth to understand the pivotal significance of June 16 as a bridge between today and tomorrow. We hear the word honour a lot, as it pertains to the youth, but there are other equally important words that are inextricably linked to June 16. These words are:

  1. Resistance – the youth cannot resist if they are not persuaded by strong ethics and beliefs.
  2. Brutality – a system of oppression can destroy the fighter but not the fight.
  3. Language – self-realisation and acceptance is the beginning of self-actualisation.
  4. Power – architects of power will affect all layers of society and the youth most.
  5. Police – there are times when you have to be your own policeman/woman when power belittles justice.

June 16 was made by the youth of South Africa. It is now the turn of those in authority to build on it so that it does not become a mere date with youth oriented formalities in order to tick a box. It needs to be monumentalised and used as a launch pad to a future that is brighter than where we have come from. In the past we have been strong in articulating what we do not believe in. We stood against apartheid and exposed its ideological and ethical bankruptcy. Now is the time to stand for what we believe in and showcase its ideological and ethical soundness. A nation is only free if it can stand on its own tried and tested belief systems rather those of others.

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Credit: Images – Lola Akinmade Akerstrom & pri.org



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