Community development activist and leader of the 1976 student uprising in Cape Town, Jeffrey Mamputa, urged pupils at the Leap Science School to focus more on their history and heritage.
He was addressing an Africa Day celebration, at the Langa Museum, on Friday May 25.
The day is celebrated throughout the country and the continent on May 25 annually.
To mark the day, the museum held an Africa Day Dialogue under the theme “Bridging the generation gap to promote social cohesion and nation building”.
The event gave pupils an opportunity to interact with seniors and learn about the past, present and future.
Pupils who studied history as a subject had an opportunity to see some images from the apartheid era. They were also taught about certain apartheid laws including the notoriousGroup Areas Act.
They also learnt about the history of Langa, which is the oldest township in Cape Town and will be celebrating its centenary in 2023.
A vibrant Mr Mamputa said the current generation of students was less concerned about the country’s history although information was readily available for them in facilities such as the museum.
He described children as assets for the nation and said they have massive role to play in the country’s future. He said the current generation had modern educational facilities.
“Facilities like the museum are created to let us know who we are and where we come from,” he said.
He also talked about inequalities in the work place, something that happened under apartheid and under the current government.
“Why are we still poor? Why are we still the least paid at our work,” said Mr Mamputa.
“You (children) should know that we were not only conquered by the taking of our land, but our thinking as well. We were made to think that black is inferior. Anything that is beautiful and good was attributed to whiteness. But this is what you should change.”
He warned pupils to uphold their cultural beliefs and values and respect people from other African countries.
“By so doing you will take this country and the continent far,” he said.
Mr Mamputa also urged parents to be actively involved in their children’s upbringing and make them aware of their history.
Pupils also showed their love and passion for the continent during a debate.
They voiced their frustration with South Africans who did not work for themselves and instead resorted to xenophobic violence. They said that had a negative impact on nation building and social cohesion.
“The problem with South Africans is that they do not want to sit down and think,” said Grade 10 pupil, Songezo Mvelase. “All you see in the corners are stands for business people from other countries. Why don’t we do what they do?” Grade 9 pupil, Esihle Mfunda, argued that had it not been for Nongqawuse, maybe Xhosas would not be as poor.
“I heard she deceived people to torch and burn their fields and kill their cattle. But it is up to us to reverse the past and show that we are not inferior to anyone.
“I think we should not dwell on the past but should know our history,” she said.
Grade 8 pupil, Nwabisa Mbobo, believes there is hope when people work together. She said most people understood each other although there were incidents of xenophobia.