Youth day on June 16 is a public holiday in South Africa and commemorate a protest which resulted in a wave of protests across the country known as the Soweto uprising of 1976. The uprising happened at a time when liberation movements were banned throughout the country and South Africa was in the grip of Apartheid, and the government’s ruling in 1974 that Afrikaans be used as medium of instruction for certain subjects in black schools. The protest started off peacefully in Soweto but it turned violent when the police opened fire on the unarmed students.
With multiple youth killed and hundreds injured, the original peaceful protest turned into violence. And with it came a much more massive uprising around the country and the world. Though the Apartheid government was still in power for a few years after the movement, many viewed this as one of the important turning point in South Africa.
The iconic picture of Hector Pieterson, a black student shot by the police brought home to many people within and outside of South Africa the effect of the struggle during the Apartheid government. Now marked as the Youth Day, June 16 is a day to remember how far this country has come and how far it still needs to go. Every year this day is celebrated in order to recognise the role of the youth in the liberation of South Africa from the Apartheid regime.