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THE streets of Orlando East buzzed with youngsters marching and singing freedom songs from the early hours of the morning, despite the chilly weather of Saturday morning.

A few thousand young people took part in the march, singing freedom songs and carrying placards bearing messages acknowledging the sacrifices of the youth of 1976. The final destination for the march was at the museum, where City and provincial dignitaries gathered to lay wreaths.

City representatives were the members of the mayoral committee for transport, Rehana Moosajee, who stood in for the mayor; for community development, Chris Vondo, who was the programme director; and for health and social development, Nonceba Molwele; as well as the Speaker of council, Conny Bapela; and City manager Trevor Fowler.

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and the MEC for sport and recreation, Lebohang Maile, were guests from the provincial government. Before the wreaths were laid, speakers took to the podium to emphasise the unforgettable sacrifices made for the next generations.

Moosajee welcomed everyone. She said commemorating the day brought back the pain and hurt. “But it also allows us to reflect on the courage and determination as well as sacrifices made by the generation of 1976 for all of us.”

Two memorial plaques were unveiled earlier in the day, she said. The first honoured Hastings Ndlovu, and it was unveiled at his family home; the second was at Phefeni Secondary School, one of the schools involved in the uprising.

“Plaques are the tributes to all those who made a contribution, including families who lost their children because of apartheid,” she said.

Mokonyane said today’s youth could be proud that those who came before them had laid a foundation that had resulted in the youth of the country playing an active role in determining their future through structures such as the National Youth Development Agency. Those in the forefront of the revolution would not be disappointed if they were to take note of some of the changes that had been brought about by the democratic government.

Pupils were encouraged to learn and speak their own languages, she said. They had rights to education and underprivileged children received free education as well as food at school. After Grade 12, there were also bursaries and government assistance for their tertiary education.

Drug abuse
Mokonyane said the youth of today faced different enemies from the youth of 1976. The evil enemy in those says was the apartheid regime. “The enemy of the current generation ranges from HIV, Aids, drugs and substance abuse, and moral decay, to hunger and jobless.”

She encouraged unity among young people, stating that it would prevent these enemies from tearing apart the moral fibre of society, stealing promising young lives and destroying families. There were ways to fight these enemies. She said as part of Youth Month celebrations, the provincial government would roll out its Drugs Treatment Centres Campaign, which is aimed at taking the youth away from drug abuse and such activities.

Riot and Zahara wow the crowd Riot and Zahara wow the crowd “We are establishing Youth Township Hubs in each region that are aimed at promoting entrepreneurial initiatives and job creation for the youth in Gauteng. We will also be launching a Youth Artisan Programme. The programme will provide and equip the youth with skills that are relevant to the current economic challenges,” she said.

Youth Day celebrations did not end at the museum. The programme went on at Mofolo Park, where thousands of young people gathered for some entertainment. Artists lived up to expectations, with people dancing to their favourite musicians and DJs.

The eagerly awaited Zahara wowed the audience when she walked on stage in a black tunic and white school shirt. She performed some of her loved tunes, including Loliwe, with the audience singing along.

The energetic hip-hop star HHP also did his thing, closing his set with the much-loved song of the moment, Boso Kemang. Durbanites Big Nuz and Professor stole the show, with the crowd going crazy for their performance. Other artists that kept the audience warm throughout the day were Micasa, Zonke, DJ Oskido, DJ Zinhle and DJ Shimza.

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