Timeless Champions of Change (TCC) Youth Day Virtual Celebration – June 16

By Irshaad Gangat

Babsi Mcinga, Director of TWOW South Africa welcomed the attendees and speakers to the virtual youth day occasion on June 16. “We [the youth] have to take it [Africa] back,” said Mcinga.

She adds, “Africa can be great again by radically investing in the youth.”

From speakers such as Jackline Muriuki of TWOW in Kenya and Ondela Mlandu the message was clear that we the people must build the continent together.

Mnuwoxolo Ngudle, ANC Youth League, highlighted the significance of youth day today. Youth Day this year marks the 45th anniversary of the June 16 Soweto uprising.

Protests started in 1975 in African schools after a command from the then Bantu Education Department was ordered that Afrikaans had to be used on an equal basis with English as a language of instruction in secondary schools. The issue, however, was not so much the Afrikaans as the whole system of Bantu education which was characterised by separate schools and universities, poor facilities, overcrowded classrooms and inadequately trained teachers in the apartheid rule.

On June 16, in 1976 saw more than 20 000 pupils from Soweto begin a protest march. Rioters clashed with the police, where approximately 700 hundred people, many of them youth, were killed and property destroyed.

A child of the struggle, Ndileka Mandela, was unable to attend due to illness. However, Mandela’s son, Thembela Mandela, attended on her behalf. Ndileka Mandela runs the Thembikile Mandela Foundation and in her absence she sent a message that women must work together and uplift each other.

“Freedom is coming tomorrow” a song title from the hit film Sarafina resonated throughout the discussion during this celebration.

June Nyakan, Global CEO TWOW, mentioned “The key drivers of an economy is the workforce.” She added, “the youth must mobilise” and not wait for government to implement policies and programmes. “If only you become a problem solver and identify the gaps that exist” [in the market] said Nyakan.

Nyakan encouraged the youth to believe in themselves and “do not compare yourself to the yardstick created by the world.” “Bring back Africa for what it was and take it to the next level,” advised Nyakan.

Mam Nyakan advised that young people should not miss out on opportunities when you have everything within you to succeed, be confident and take up opportunities. “Learn, share and gain experience to expose yourself” she said.

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