Youth Day has been celebrated in South Africa on June 16 since 1976 as a reaction to the events that took place on the day. The day resulted in casualties of an unofficial total of 200 deaths, even though the government have reported a lesser number.
The people of South Africa started celebrating Youth Day in memory of all those innocent people who died during the clash. On Sunday, June 16, South Africans are set to commemorate the youth of 1976, who lost their lives during the Soweto uprising that took place in Soweto; Johannesburg. But, is the youth of 2019 value the commitment, passion and enthusiasm the youth of 1976 demonstrated through the unrest, or is June 16 another alcohol event where people dress up in their uniforms to get drunk?
It is not a secret that we live in a country where youth liberate themselves from depression with alcohol. From public holidays, football games and even kid’s birthday parties – alcohol always seems to have a place there.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) 2011 report, South Africa is a recognized as a hard drinking country. South Africans consumes in excess of 5 billions litres of alcohol annually; this figure is likely to be higher still if sorghum beer is included, and equates to 9 – 10 litres of pure alcohol per person, unfortunately the rates continues to rise, especially on occasions where there is a public holiday.
Government and Non-governmental organisations have made efforts to host educational activities to mitigate the effects of boredom and lack of social activities among the youth, however alcohol remains being a part of those activities.
With government’s efforts, this year will be celebrated under the theme, ‘25 Years of Democracy: A celebration of youth activism’, the theme aims to empower and facilitate conversations with the youth on the achievements and progress made in youth development and to encourage young people to join the ranks of active and responsible citizens by participating in democratic processes.