Today we take time to remember those before us . . .
Our history as a recently democratic nation is rooted in Racism and Inequality. Policies from the apartheid era have left a legacy of inequity, unemployment, and – for lack of a better word – absolute fear.
We, the youth of South Africa, make up about one third of the total population. That’s approximately 22 million people! We are a force within ourselves, and we have the power to incite the change we all crave so dearly in our vibrantly beating hearts.
Rising up, unified, from the ashes of apartheid’s doom, we are the generation of change-makers and doers. Our future lies in our hands, no matter how cliche that may sound.
Nearly three decades into our democracy, we are faced with the ultimate choice – the choice to stand for what is right, not what is easy.
Our grandparents and parents all laid the way, now it is up to us to carry forward the change that laid the foundations for our democratic nation. In those foundations lie buried the hopes and dreams of the youth that never made it past their tender teen years.
16 June 1976 marks the day the youth of South Africa rose up against injustice. Today we remember Hector Pieterson, Hastings Ndlovu, Tebogo ‘Tsietsi’ Mashinini, among the numerous lives lost and altered when these youngsters held placards demanding fair education rights against armed police.
We honour the Activists in them and we praise the crucial role they played in the Struggle. They unified their voices against apartheid, refusing to accept that they were worth any less than any other human.
We continue this fight today in Cannabis. We have armed ourselves against discrimination with the hard-won education of those early days to demand human rights and evidence-based policy be applied in the legislation and regulation of Cannabis.
Oh, my friends, it is so easy to just arrive at this point in our history, turning a blind eye to the battles fought before us. Why do we wait until we are faced with the injustices ourselves before we truly pay attention?
This is where the choice of doing what is right rather than easy comes in.
We are five years along from our monumental Privacy ruling in the Constitutional Court of our liberated nation, yet we as the youth of South Africa are still unarmed against the brutal actions of our police. The police are themselves guilty of repeating the sins of those before them, using tactics rooted in racism like profiling and violating the human and constitutional rights of us youngsters, and all South Africans who dare have a relationship with the Plant!
The confusion we are left with when promised jobs and economic growth in the Cannabis Sector while still facing cops that will as easily lock us up for the way they look as they would ignore actual crime is unfair.
The trauma of being abused by those meant to serve and protect us must end!
Let us, your young people, grow – freely and with dignity!
Youth Day serves as a reminder that we must ALL support our young people, ensuring our voices are heard, our rights protected, and our opportunities to grow and develop maximised. We rise with our youth, demanding better!
Today we remember those brave souls who laid the foundations of our beautiful country with their own activism on 16 June 1976. Today we honour our brave youths, who continue to rise up against incredible odds on 16 June 2023 – how far we have come, and how far we are yet to go!