June 16, Youth Day, a public holiday, here in South Africa, is in remembrance of the events of 1976 which was a series of protests led by high school students, where approx 700 people, mainly students,
lost their lives, also known as the Soweto Uprising.
In 1975 protests started in local schools after a directive from the then Bantu Education Department 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.
On 16 June 1976 more than 20 000 pupils from Soweto began a protest march. In the wake of
clashes with the police, and the violence that ensued during the next few weeks, approximately 700 hundred people, many of them youths, were killed and property destroyed.
Let us never forget.