June 16 is Youth Day in South Africa, a day for youth to celebrate themselves and for adults to be reminded of how important children are, the part they played in our country’s recent past, and the role they will play in its future.
On this day in 1976, several countrywide protests culminated in the youth-led Soweto uprising against the apartheid government’s racist Bantu Education Act and in particular its decision to use Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in black schools. The names of Hector Pieterson and Hastings Ndlovu reverberated around the world as the first children to be shot and killed in a show of violence from the apartheid police. Now in the country’s calendar, 16 June commemorates our country’s youngsters, never forgetting that far too many do not have the chance for a happy childhood.
This year the SAJM marked South Africa’s Youth Day by inviting a group of children from Delft to spend a morning with us. The children’s ages ranged from 5 to 16. The area of Delft is one of Cape Town’s poorest, riddled with gang violence and crime. Many of the children who joined us had never been on a bus or left their community. They arrived bubbling over with excitement. The younger children loved exploring the shtetl, finding out about different religions and learning a Jewish folk song. The teenagers had a great time discussing religions, ethics, xenophobia and other social issues on our Cultural Diversity Education Programme. The group ended the morning with a stroll through the beautiful Company’s Garden next door, a first for many.
The SAJM offers a variety of fun, educational tours and programmes for children from 4 upwards. Thanks to the generosity of our funders, we can sponsor transport and a meal for children coming to us from underprivileged areas. To see more about our programmes please CLICK HERE