SETH Mazibuko, the founder of the June 16 Youth Development Foundation and a leader during the June 16, 1976 uprising has expressed his distress at the disconnect between his generation and young people today.
Mazibuko believes this social distance has proven dire for the black youth of South Africa who appear to be in the grip of what he calls a “massive identity crisis as a result of the detachment between generations”.
“What we are suffering from and what our youth are suffering from now is a result the disconnect between us and them,” he said.
“After 1994 we spent a lot of time and energy away from our young people and rushed to clinch BEE deals. We scrambled to become members of Parliament and rushed to occupy position positions of power. Meanwhile, we left a massive gap between us and the youth who were about to experience the post-1994 era,” he said.
He said many young people became leaderless after 1994, and suffered at the parental level, community and societal level.
Mazibuko said the youth were forced to find a substitute leader and made themselves vulnerable.
“In the 1970s we had strong street committees which debated how to tackle
serious social ills, but that is no longer the situation today,” he said.
“White youths still have a connection with their parents, with their leaders, it is us black people who don’t,” he said.
He said after 1994 there was a total disregard of many of African values and
of black consciousness.
“The values of youth leadership are lost along with the virtues of youth leadership
and people have also forgotten about the victories of youth leadership that were won by black South Africans,” he said.
He expressed dismay that “commemorations are full of festivities with people basically dancing on the graves of those who sacrificed their lives and died during the youth uprising”.
Meanwhile the youth activist from 1976, Busisiwe Shabangu, said students from the class of 1976 dismissed the threats by police. She said they were in fact surprised when police started shooting at them.
“It turned into chaos, people began running in all directions. I myself only got home late at night around 11pm.
“I was rescued by a women named Mam Ngwenya, who sheltered me and her daughter with whom I attended school. We could hear gunshots and see dogs set on the pupils. It was a hectic and scary day, we were afraid and peeping through the windows,” Shabangu said.
She said there were many pupils who took part in the protest march on June 16 who either lost their lives or were detained.
“I was one of the fortunate who survive that day,” Shabangu said
KEITUMETSI MOTLHALE AND HLONI MASHIGO