Most young people are eager to celebrate the lives of their fallen heroes.
However, pupils also said there should be more focus on the issues they are battling with at present and urged those who will be gathering tomorrow not to forget to draw inspiration from the youth of 1976.
Chris Hani Secondary School pupil Liyema Mehlomakhulu said his understanding of Youth Day was that young people became freedom fighters to liberate today’s youth.
“I know that they were fighting against Afrikaans to be used as the medium of instruction at schools. They did well to fight it although they were shot at by the then government,” he said.
He said today’s youth also have challenges to battle.
“June 16 is still relevant even today. We need to celebrate it, celebrate the lives of the fallen heroes. It is because of them that today we can have a better life and education.
“I will be part of the celebrations at school,” he said.
Fellow pupil Loyiso Tsosana shared the same sentiments and appealed to young people of his age to defend their freedom and be part of nation building. “We need to celebrate it responsibly. The freedom we have did not come cheap, that is why we need to be part of efforts to build the country.
“Hector Pieterson was the hero of the day so we should not disappoint him and others who fell for us,” he said.
Hector Pieterson, 13, was among the first pupils who died when police fired at protesters in Soweto.
Loyiso said those who fought for change need to be remembered.
Zimbini Mgwaqaza from Esangweni High School in Kuyasa said the day must be respected, especially by young people.
She said it marked the time when youth took up the struggle against apartheid’s oppression.
She said she was happy she will be celebrating the day with a community group, Silver Community Drug Fighters.
“It is a special day that must be honoured.
“It should be celebrated in a manner that will celebrate the fallen, their families and all of us. I am excited because we will be celebrating it by talking to other young people with the Silver Community Drug Fighters,” she said.
Another pupil from Esangweni High School, Sinazo Fani, believes a lot needs to be done to educate young people about Youth Day.
She said many young people don’t know what the day stands for.
“I do not think young people are truly aware about the day although there are many programmes about it. It is a day that must get attention especially from us young people. But most young people will not be celebrating because of ignorance,” she said.