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‘The power is in your hands young people!’

todayJune 30, 2023 115

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Student leader, Tsietsi Mashinini, became known as an enemy of the system after leading the 1976 Soweto Uprising

As South Africa wraps up the Youth Month, 1976 Youth Activist Professor Kealeboga Maphunye is urging young people to use the power they have to change the system.

The scholar spoke to YNews ahead of the Tsietsi Mashinini Heritage Lecture in Freedom Park in Pretoria today.

He says South Africans need to stop comparing the youth of 1976 to that of 2023 as the giant today’s youth is contending with is different from the one they faced more than 40 years ago.

Professor Maphunye says one can argue that today’s youth has been equipped with advanced tools such as social media, in order to fight against the system and they should use such mechanisms to their advantage.

Prof Maphunye says the youth must stand up against the things they do not agree with.

He is urging young people to take a leaf from them and learn from older human rights activists as the youth of ’76 was inspired by lyrics from late reggae musician Bob Marley’s song Redemption Song which called on individuals to emancipate themselves from mental slavery.
While acknowledging the youth’s efforts, Professor Maphunye disagrees with popular belief that the 2015/2016 #FeesMustFall protests were the largest student demonstrations since the end of apartheid in 1994.
He says it is debatable whether the #FeesMustFall movement actually did achieved its goal.
He says the youth of today, can learn bravery and how to stand up for what they believed in like Tsietsie Mashinini, who at 19 was one of the leaders of the 76 Soweto uprisings.
He says they must understand that that their struggle might isolate them for a while before others catch on their vision.

Prof Maphunye has questioned why an individual like Mashinini, who played a pivotal role in the country’s struggle against apartheid, is not recognised.

In his opinion, more must be done to honour him and other unsung leaders who contributed to the freedom South Africa enjoys.

Mashinini’s family has also cautioned against a selective history— as South African’s remember liberation heroes.

YNews spoke with Tsietsi brother, Dee Mashinini, in Pretoria today.

He says while it’s the first time Tsietsi is being honoured — it’s a step in the right direction to ensure that his legacy is not lost.

Background on 1976 Youth Activist, Professor Kealeboga Maphunye:
In 1976, he was living in Dobsonville, and a learner at the Naledi (Batswana) Junior Secondary in Soweto.
He became a member of the SSRC (Soweto Students Representative Council) and later SAYRCO (South African Youth Revolutionary Council, both of which were led by Tsietsi Mashinini. Professor Maphunye is also founding member of both organisations.

Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa

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