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History of Youth Day in Quotes

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As Youth Day comes around, and in the middle of this year’s Youth Month, it is the perfect time to look at the history of this date over the decades. A day that has been moulded by its country’s development, Youth Day has held different moods and meanings through the years. This Youth Month, we’ll look to the past and the now to see how this turning-point-turned-holiday started and developed over time.


“The police have been instructed, regardless of who is involved, to protect lives and property with every means at their disposal. This government will not be intimidated and instructions have been given to maintain law and order at all costs.” -Prime Minister Vorster, 1976

Youth Day was a turning point in the history of South Africa. June 16, 1976 is the date of the Soweto Uprising. The uprising was a result of students peacefully protesting a law passed by the apartheid government that made Afrikaans the language in which maths and social studies would be taught in schools. This hurt students’ ability to learn, and they took to the streets to protest. While on the way to Orlando Stadium, soldiers opened fire on the marching students. The government soldiers committed senseless and unnecessary violence in the name of “maintaining law and order”. The students involved in this tragic incident were acting on what they believed in, and, when the government’s treatment broke all expectations, they paid a price for a bargain they didn’t make. The sacrifice and bloodshed of these students must be remembered for being a turning point in the apartheid struggle, inspiring sanctions from other countries, and increasing the push for true democracy.


“Today, we can proudly say that we have given a fitting tribute to our young heroes. June 16, South Africa Youth Day, is a paid public holiday. We celebrate June 16, 1995 after our first Freedom Year, with new and bigger challenges facing the youth. You were in the forefront of the liberation struggle. Today you must be in the forefront of reconstruction and development.” – Nelson Mandela, June 16, 1995

Youth Day was officially declared a paid public holiday in 1995. This was the second year of South Africa’s new democracy under Nelson Mandela’s leadership. In his 1995 speech for the first ‘Youth Day’, Nelson Mandela described the day as a “fitting tribute to our young heroes” and laid out a central message of invigorating the future of South Africa’s youth through education and skills development. By illustrating the vitality of young South Africans in securing a future of opportunity, he placed them at the forefront of his plan for reconstruction and development. Thus, at the birth of Youth Day by its now-known name, chimes of recognition rang for the past and declarations of hope sounded for the future.


“You are fantastic, do you know that? Our freedom, in a very large measure was due to what young people such as yourselves did 40 years ago not very far from where we lived in Soweto where Hector Pieterson was shot and killed. But you are fantastic. Reach for your stars, because now you can be anything and everything you want to be. We are proud of you and that you don’t allow circumstances to keep you down, you say they are not obstacles, they are challenges”- Desmond Tutu, June 16, 2016

Today, Youth Day is celebrated by many as a chance to focus on youth-related issues and to empower the young people of South Africa, as did Desmond Tutu when he addressed the youth festival in Cape Town last year. This Youth Month marks the 41st anniversary of the Soweto Uprising and has the theme “The year of OR Tambo: Advancing Youth Economic Empowerment”.

There are many economic and social challenges to the youth of South Africa today. Let Youth Day remind us of where we have come from, and where we want to get to. Let us all support the youth in their development – after all, young people are our future.

Music To My Ears

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I like music. No, scratch that, I love music. I listen to it all the time: when I’m studying, when I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I’m reading, and when I’m writing. But, unlike most people, I don’t have a specific type of music that I like more than the rest. I don’t like house music more than I like hip-hop music, or jazz more than classical music. That’s because I like listening to a type of music that I like to call good music.

Now, because what is good and what is not, for a person, depends on their individual tastes and preferences, I have never been able to explain to other people what I mean when I say I like “good music”. That’s because, for someone who loves hip-hop music more than house music, hip-hop music is “good music”, while the opposite is true for someone who loves house music more than hip-hop. But, even with all that in mind, I will do my best today to explain to you what I mean when I say I love “good music”.

I grew up in the ‘90s – a time when RnB Music, Kwaito Music, Bubblegum Music were seen as the best kinds of music out. We all listened to them and, to some level, agreed that most were “good”. Not a single day would go by without you hearing one of those genres playing loudly in some house or taxi, and we all enjoyed them. Those types of songs continued to be popular in my community until the mid to late 2000s, and that’s when house music began to take center stage. Now everybody was listening to house music and, just like with the “good music” that had come before it, we all agreed, more or less, that house music was “good music”. But next came the confusing age of hip-hop that we’re currently in.

Unlike the other musical eras I’ve mentioned above, with hip-hop no-one can agree about what “good music” is. While some like Trap – a confusing mixture of beats and people mumbling things we cannot hear – others like a much more ‘90s, Biggy and Tupac-inspired brand of Hip-Hop. And unlike in the ‘90s, where none of the music competed for the number one spot, and you could listen to and love all of them at the same time, today if you like Trap, you cannot, at the same time, claim to love the other type – as if they don’t all form part of the same genre: hip-hop.

We live in a time when the music produced is both gender and age specific; if you’re too old, you can’t listen to Trap music, if you’re a guy you are expected to listen to a certain type of music. And that’s where it all confuses me. You see, for me, good music is music that cuts through all barriers – be they gender and age, or color, religion and language. It is music that cannot be fitted into a box and made exclusively for a specific group of people. For me, as soon as music is made to exclude certain groups of people, it loses the “goodness” that music is meant to have.

A good example of music that I know that can break barriers – manmade or not – is spiritual music. It does not matter if it is Christian, Islamic or Traditional African singing, spiritual music has the ability to touch everyone listening to it in a unique way. Music in the ‘90s also had this transcendent quality. For instance it did not matter how old or what race or gender you were, if any of Brenda Fassie’s songs were to come on the radio, you had no choice but to dance. And that, for me, is what “good music” is: music that can break barriers, and make us all see beyond the limits that we’ve placed on ourselves.

Perhaps this is not an objective definition of what “good music” is, but hopefully you now understand how I see it!

What kind of music do you see as “good music” that can transcend barriers?

Things to do for Youth Month

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16 June is South Africa’s official Youth Day. It’s a day when we remember the young lives that were lost in the struggle for freedom. It is a day that is widely anticipated and celebrated each year, but many young people just see it as a public holiday and so a day to either stay home away from school or a day to chill with friends. This week I want to share with you some ideas of things that you can do for this youth day or youth month that are educational and also enriching.

Museums – everyone should make time for a trip to a local museum. We are privileged in South Africa to have so many museums and I think that our young people do not visit them enough. Recently I have made it a point to visit at least one or two museums a month. You can learn so much from them as they record life as it once was and they also help you have a better understanding of why certain things work the way they do today. For youth month, you can visit the many centres that talk about the struggle that the youth went through and so have an even better appreciation of Youth Day.

Library – Your local library is not just a building with books; it can be a magical world for you if you let it. There are so many books that have been written about the youth of this country and many other countries, and the struggle and triumphs that many have gone through. These books are inspirational. Visit your local library and take some books home to read for Youth Day instead of chilling at home being bored. I personally love my local library and I visit the library at least once a week to get some new books or movies. You can also request books if your local library doesn’t have them in stock and they can get them for you…. I mean how nice is that? #Loveit

Youth centres – There are various youth centres across the country and many of them even have space for volunteers, so why not see if you can volunteer at one of them. You can learn so much from other young people that you will meet; you don’t even have to volunteer – just spending a day there to learn about the work they do can be useful to you. So try it and see how that goes as part of your contribution for Youth Day.

Volunteer work – This is something that most young people straight out of university or even while still at school can do. Volunteering is a fun way to develop skills, add valuable experience onto your CV and also add more depth to yourself. Volunteering is like a stepping stone towards the career you want, so do as much volunteer work that you can. If you can, the best thing is to select work that is in line with the type of career you wish to follow one day.

Also, you can create your own volunteer work just for Youth Day. For example: ask your friends to help clean your local park, ask to volunteer at your local library to read books to younger children, visit an old age home or an old person who may need some help, and so on. There are endless possibilities with what you can do as a volunteer and it doesn’t have to be for six months, it can even be for a day.

Stay alert – Always keep a lookout for events and activities that might be happening in your area, especially because this is youth month. Keep checking your social media accounts for events that are coming up and if you have an idea for an event, see if you can get help to organise it.

So don’t just chill at home and be bored, go out and try new things!

I hope you have found this blog useful and please share with us what you plan on doing for Youth month. #HappyYouthDay2017

Written by Phoebe Sibomana

The conversation around school uniforms

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For the past decade, more and more schools have been changing school uniforms to more modern casual styles. Nowadays at some schools you can wear the clothes you wear at home to school, or a custom made casual outfit that’s considered a school uniform. Mostly that’s happening at rich, private schools.

Why should you wear a school uniform though? I mean, a shirt, blazer, tie, shiny formal school shoes and a dress may not be my idea of a fashionable or comfortable outfit, but it is what I and many other students were required to wear in order to attend school. I do understand that it is part of the etiquette of looking neat and presentable, that it instils pride in students, and gives a sense of belonging and school spirit. Those are the values you take away with you when you leave school and enter the adult and working world.

However uniforms also make me feel that school children are being trained to be factory workers (the desks in a row, pitching up to school on time and getting detention if your shirt’s not tucked in). Everyone has to be the same; no-one should stand out.

A friend and I had a debate around this issue. My friend believes that wearing a school uniform protects you from being bullied or made to feel like an outsider. And when everyone is dressed the same, peer pressure lessens because no one is really paying attention to what you’re wearing.

I, however, believe that bullying occurs whether you’re wearing a school uniform or not. I feel like in this day and age, the school uniform denies students/learner’s right to freedom of expression and individuality. I’m not saying you should pitch up to school in the shortest skirt you have in your wardrobe (some school uniforms or skirts are that short). I bet you know how to express yourself through your clothes but in a manner that your mother would approve of.

I can hear some of you saying “who can afford to wear a different outfit to school every day if you’re already struggling with the challenges of poverty?” I get you, I don’t expect all schools to conform to my idea of school uniforms, and I know there are already schools that don’t have study materials or necessities such as desks, electricity, clean running water and windows. All I’m saying is that schools and the Department of Education should take their students’ opinions into consideration when talking about school uniforms.

Although school uniforms cost less money than an entire wardrobe of fashionable clothes, some school uniforms costs half of what an entire fashionable wardrobe costs. Have you seen a school uniform sale anywhere? No. Like so many other “need to talk about” topics when it comes to schooling institutions, school uniforms should also be included in that bracket.

Written by Veronica Boyi

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Celebrity World

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What is it about celebrities that drive us to want to be like them, dress like them, speak like them, and look like them? Are they humans like us? Or are they aliens that have invaded our world? We love and envy them yet we all know that their perfect world is an illusion. We want to own their big mansions, wear their Prada and Gucci outfits, eat at their 5* hotels and restaurants, and even party at their most exclusive bars. We crave their fake lives, but we also love talking about their sad drama-filled, alcoholic and drug infused realities.

I, like many people, love buying magazines and watching talk shows about celebrities, but recently I wondered why… why all the fuss? What exactly am I aiming for when I fill my mind with their lives? Is my life not as important simply because I am not being interviewed on TV, radio or for magazines? Sure I might not live in a big mansion or drive a nice car or even wear designer clothes, but I am smart, educated and talented. Why aren’t millions of people following me around wanting to take a picture? This got me thinking: when did this hierarchy of celebrities begin – was it always like this or is it a new culture that we have created? And how can we as ‘normal’ people see the value in ourselves and stop chasing this small world of celebrity life?

Just to give you a brief history on Celebrity culture from Wikipedia: ‘The movie industry spread around the globe in the first half of the 20th Century, and with it the now familiar concept of the instantly recognizable faces of its superstars. Yet, celebrity wasn’t always tied to actors in films, especially when cinema was starting out as a medium. Paul McDonald states in The Star System: Hollywood’s Production of Popular Identities, “in the first decade of the twentieth century, American film production companies withheld the names of film performers, despite requests from audiences, fearing that public recognition would drive performers to demand higher salaries.”’ If they could see the celebrity culture today and their demands for higher payment just to appear for 20 minutes in a film, Paul would be shocked.

Yes, the fast life, fast money, and even fast cars, is still something that most desire, but once you have attained all of those material products, you find people still in search of the simple life. Seeking to be recognized by others can only fulfil you so far, but when you are happy and content within yourself, the material things will not hold such a place of honour in your soul.

People suffer just so they can be recognized, and we find that most celebrities do have very low self-esteem. We have seen many in the past lose their wealth and recognition due to their fast life spending. We see that self-esteem and the values one holds are what remains, and if your foundation is not strong then you will definitely suffer. Hence we see many celebrities falling into drug and alcohol addictions, because no amount of money can truly fulfil you. However if you have good moral standards, then the added recognition from others will only reinforce what you already have built within you.

Hopefully this blog did not kill many of your dreams to become celebrities. The goal of the blog is to help you understand that you need to have good values and believe in yourself. The celeb world might look appealing, but it also requires strong self-esteem to cope, especially when the fame ends.

Written by Phoebe Sibomana


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