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Township Youth Pushing For Reform

By Mpho Adora Raphadu, June 2018

Every generation has its own battles to fight.

It was on 16 June, 42 years ago that the youth of Soweto took to the streets to march against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in education.

Like their counterparts in Soweto in 1976, the Alexandra youth of 2018 got the “signal” and decided to take a stand and be the change they wanted to see in their community. They had had enough of shedding tears and attending funerals of their peers, sisters, cousins, mothers and brothers who had been killed by guns.

Four decades later, on 16 June 2018, the youth of Alexandra, in partnership with Gun Free South Africa, Alex FM and Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF), took to the streets to protest the growing number of unlicensed guns in their community. They marched from the Barona Shopping Centre to the Alexandra police station, where they handed over a signed petition to the police.

As they marched, every step was filled with energy. They sang struggle songs in honor of those who had fallen before them. They raised fists of triumph in the air. They had power in their tongues, hope in their eyes and unity in their gathering. One couldn’t help but feel the spirit of the likes of Jape Vilankulu, Hector Pieterson, and Mbuyisa Makhubo, living in these bright young souls of 2018.

Many have labelled today’s youth as the “lost generation” or “a disgrace to the youth of 1976” but on this day, Alexandra youth showed their resilience in the face of challenges they regularly encounter. This breed of youth is the “Thuma-mina” type, the catalyst of change and prosperity in our society.

Alexandra is one of the oldest townships in South Africa, with a population of over 700 000. The township faces challenges such as crime, over population, unemployment, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, gangesterism and lack of infrastructure such as housing and recreational facilities.

This type of youth refuses to be just spectators watching things fall apart in their community. They don’t look around for blame, neither do they point fingers at others. They look inside themselves and find the courage to take action and fix the problem.

Every generation has its own battle to fight. For Alexandra youth in 2018, a safe gun free society is what they are fighting for.

How can we help our youth achieve that goal?

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