To commemorate Youth Day on June 16, the South African History Archive (SAHA) has developed an exhibition kit 'The Future is Ours: Commemorating Youth in the Struggle' in which artefacts from the archives provide a lens into decades of the youth's resistance to apartheid.
From the rise of the youth-driven Black Consciousness Movement through the resistance to Bantu Education that culminated in the Soweto Uprising of 1976 to the campaigns against forced conscription in the 1980s, this exhibition kit uses of reproductions of posters, photographs, and other archival materials to tell a story of the contributions of the youth to the liberation struggle in South Africa.
'The Future is Ours' will be on display in No. 4 at Constitution Hill for June 2012.
June 16 in 2012
It was 36 years ago in 1976, June 16, when students embarked on what was meant to be a peaceful protest against an unjust education system that threatened the success of black students. The march turned into a bloodbath, leaving more than 170 pupils dead and countless injured.
The youth of 1976 fought for a fair and just education system against a militant government who was obsessed with segregation and sidelining the black man. Today, young people in South Africa are still battling with issues of education and unemployment. The education system is still in crisis with some pupils still taking classes under a tree, and tertiary enrolment still remaining a distant dream for many. Statistics reveal that unemployment in youth between the ages of 15 and 24 currently stands at 48.2%. The youth takes up 70% of the total figure of unemployed South Africans. Such figures are high enough to cause panic considering the ‘true wealth of a nation lies in its youth', as the saying goes.
To deal with this crisis, the national treasury proposed a R5 billion Youth Wage Subsidy, which sparked mixed feelings recently culminating in a blood-stained march between the country's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the country's union federation, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
The subsidy is to be administered by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) as a tax credit to companies which employ people between the ages of 18 and 29 who do not necessarily have any work experience.
The DA feels the subsidy could provide considerable relief to the problem of unemployment. COSATU argues that the subsidy is flawed and will lead to more problems on the country's workforce.
DA leader Helen Zille stated, "The youth wage subsidy will benefit more than 423 000 people in the first three years of the programme. Beneficiaries will be young, first-time job seekers, many of whom have completed matric or have tertiary qualifications but who cannot find that crucial first job."
COSATU on the other hand feels that the subsidy would exclude youths from constitutionally protected worker rights and would see employers substitute experienced, expensive workers for cheaper younger workers.
Youth in the archives
'The Future is Ours' exhibition kit is one of a series of community exhibition kits, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and the Atlantic Philanthropies.
Read more about SAHA exhibition kits and how your organisation can borrow them.
SAHA has also developed a virtual exhibition based on the exhibition kit, to showcase materials from SAHA's archives that speak to youth struggles in South Africa.
Visit the youth virtual exhibition, ‘The Future is Ours - Commemorating Youth in the Struggle