Activating Youth Day

In commemorating the slain 1976 young heroes and heroines, Liberty Youth Movement Director and Hammanskraal-based Activator Thabang Phokungwana mobilised his community on 16 June 2015 to address youth challenges like substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, unemployment, crime and illiteracy among young people.

The well-attended event started with 5km march from the iconic community Carousal Hotel to the Dooka Primary School. It was followed by deep self-introspection sessions by community leaders, motivational speakers, academic youth leaders and local icons, youth from Carousel View and Bosplaas East, school kids and handful elders.

Inspired by the ACTIVATE! community development principles and values, Phokungwana used the Youth Day public holiday to promote health awareness and to share work and educational opportunities to all aspiring youth leaders not just his community only but to the entire North West province as a whole.

“Almost everywhere in South Africa young and old commemorate the day, but as a young leader and the only Activator in my area, I decided that I will organise an event that remembers the past, confronts the present and shapes a better future for young people in my community. We deliberately went slightly against what everyone expected. We wanted to use the day as the start of new greater youth driven sustainable initiatives,” Thabang said when explaining the significance of the day.

The brave young leader rebuked youth with entitlement mentality. He said being stuck to what the past youth have done for the country and or singing shouting political slogans will not do the current youth any favour or help them to fight new enemies in the form of things like HIV, substance abuse, unemployment, poverty and crime. 

Other speakers included the local based life coach Collen Msiza, Hip Hop artist, Carousel, Dooka primary school teacher Emanuel Gwenzi, Liberty Youth Movement member young academic expert John Mkwebo.

Msiza’s message to those who attended was that every good that has ever been achieved by a group of people or a country starts with one person. “The 1976 youth Soweto uprising was inspired or started by one person. You and I too can start something that will change this country for the better. Those young people who made things happen had not waited for things to happen. The reverse of that is true about our generation.”

Mkwebo also said that he finds it embarrassing that the current youth with all the rights, resources and opportunities are the ones who are allowing the significance of such a historical day’s true meaning to fade away the way it is doing. He also asked tough personal question about the ungrateful conduct of some who occupy political offices and are abusing power and oppressing the masses and deprive or squander opportunities, just like the apartheid regime did. 

Special guests in attendance at the youth day event included one of the surviving leaders of the 1976 June Soweto Uprising, Seth Mazibuko, who applauded the progressive youth formation and the legendary photographer, Sam Nzima, who took the famous Hector Peterson and Mbuyiselo Mkhubo picture on 16 June 1976. 

The retired photographer applauded the likes of Thabang Phokungwana and visionary youth formations like ACTIVATE! Change Drivers who continue to play important leadership roles. “We have to give credit to those young people who are still doing their best to lead this country forward,” said Nzima.

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