Each year African countries including Botswana, commemorates June 16, a Day of The African Child. This was a day when many were shot dead when thousands of students from South African township of Soweto protested against apartheid regime in 1976.
On this day decades ago, thousands of students took to the streets in what was meant to be a peaceful protest against the 1974 order that had been passed, requiring that certain subjects be taught in Afrikaans.
Then, people largely saw Afrikaans as the “language of the oppressor” and it resulted in growing resentment amongst teachers and students alike.
During the Saturday commemoration at the University of Botswana, the High Commissioner of South Africa (SA), Rosemary Mashaba urged the youth to reflect on the sacrifices made by the young heroes and heroines that sacrificed their lives to gain freedom for all in the fateful day where some youth lost their lives and others were injured.
She asked the young audience to reflect on their lives and ask themselves what that day meant to them. Mashaba urged them to learn to live and walk the talk. She said June 16 must not only be the day that is celebrated once a year and being forgotten about during the year, as it means a lot more especially to the youth as they alone can bring change both in their lives and in the country.
“I want you to ask yourselves what is it that I do? People died for our freedom. It is important to have a principle. Something that you stand for. In all that, try to be conscious. Deliberate in it,” she advised.
Even though she
She also explained that there was a study conducted in Botswana that shows that a Motswana youth lives under their parents’ roof even at the age of 38, which she said was not an ideal situation.
She also expressed a great concern on the poor academic results saying that she felt all the stakeholders including parents, teachers, the general public including students failed the youth of this country despite the government’s effort to provided free education.
She further urged the students to remove themselves from their comfort zone and do what they need to do to get where they want to go. She said even though it was not going to be easy they must not give up on their dreams. “That day, two students, Hastings Ndlovu andHector Pieterson, died from police gunfire; hundreds more sustained injuries during the subsequent chaos that engulfed Soweto.
“These were not the only people that died for the liberation of SA. Stephen (Steve) Bantu Biko was a popular voice of Black liberation in South Africa between the mid 1960s. He died in police custody in 1977 where it was alleged that he slipped and killed himself,” she said.