The University of the Western Cape (UWC) hosted a Youth Day exhibition on 17 June 2014 - a commemorative event which showcased youth empowerment and activism.
The event took place at the UWC Main Library a day after the commemoration of the 16 June 1976 Soweto Uprising. Students from Belhar High School were taught about the past and the importance of the day by guest speakers such as Dr Simphiwe Sesanti, Mr Keith Gottschalk and Prof Joy Papier.
Library Director at UWC, Ntshuntshe-Matshaya, who was the programme director on the day, said as librarians their primary role is to connect people with information because they are excited about the history of South Africa.
Anti-apartheid activist, Mr Keith Gottschalk, who donated a wealth of knowledge to the University by means of newspaper clippings from the 90s, says he collected the newspapers so that future generations could benefit.
He ended his talk by saying that even political scientists are using the information about the past which is now available at the UWC Library.
Dr Simphiwe Sesanti, who is a lecturer at Stellenbosch University, was also given a chance to make a presentation, saying: “Language is a culture”, and emphasising the importance of speaking and preserving African languages, especially among young people.
“We must not fool ourselves into thinking our oppression was by accident, and also by thinking that our freedom came easily. If we think that way then there is something seriously wrong with us. It is important that we remind ourselves of the road we have travelled”, he concluded.
The last speaker of the day, Prof Joy Papier, told the pupils from Belhar High School that it is a pleasure talking to young people a day after Youth Day was celebrated.
She said it is sad that 3 million young people in South Africa have no hope for the future because they are not in school, not getting any formal training, or are unemployed.
She said it is for reasons like these that the government has proposed the Green and White paper on post learning and training which encourages young and old people to enroll in FET Colleges for formal training, or at least to gain access to achieving a matric certificate.
Clyde James, a Mathematics teacher at Belhar High School, said they decided to choose a group of matric learners to attend the event; “When we heard the University was hosting this event, we wanted to choose our best students - students who would pay attention and apply what was said here today to their lives”.