“Youth Day reminds us about the school children who had the courage to stand up against the Apartheid system,” Kaizer Chiefs’ youth development player Itumeleng Shopane comments on Youth Day, a public holiday to remember the tragic events of 16 June 1976. That’s when young children rose up in Soweto against the Afrikaans Medium Decree, which forced all black schools to use Afrikaans and English in a 50-50 mix as languages of instruction.
The revolt started in Soweto West, where the young Chiefs striker lives. “Thanks to these school children and others who let their voices be heard, we now have freedom.”
For Shopane, however, it’s not only a day of reflection, it’s also a day of celebration as the talented striker will celebrate his 20th birthday on Friday, 16 June 2017.
Close to 200 protesters were killed on that day, shot dead by the police. Amakhosi lost on 16 June 1976 a player as well, Ariel ‘Pro’ Kgongoane, who was hit by a stray bullet. The midfielder doubled up as a teacher, working for a school in Soweto. He was Chiefs’ first captain and a vocal leader – that’s how he acquired his nickname, Mandela, as he was outspoken.
Palesa Molefe is an enthusiastic Kaizer Chiefs supporting, who is a member of the Katlehong Supporters Branch.
“It is a day to stand still and think about a lot of things,” the 23-year-old comments about Youth Day. “It’s about the Soweto uprising, when the school children revolted against Bantu education.
“Our fallen youth in 1976 fought for a better education for all South Africans, as Nelson Mandela said: ‘Education is the key to success’.”