As the first generation to be born after Apartheid was banished, pupils from 24 Grahamstown schools joined voices at Lower Field, St Andrew’s College this week to celebrate Youth Day in a drive to `Write Their Own History.” Past history cannot be altered, but the future awaits creation and the youth of today have that task at hand. This theme was chosen by the St Andrew’s College, St Andrew’s Prep and Diocesan School for Girls and expounded on during the ceremony.
Remembering the iconic Soweto Uprising in 1976 and the young people who lost their lives in the struggle against Apartheid and Bantu education, pupils and staff looked at the past honestly and toward the future with hope and excitement in a sobering, yet joyous occasion. Several groups of young pupils sang, danced and played instruments; each telling a story of how far South Africa has come and looking forward to the heights we may yet reach.
The highlight of the programme was guest speaker Zolani Mahola - lead singer of Freshlyground, an afro pop dance group - who spoke candidly to well over 1000 pupils about her early life growing up in a township, of the affects of Apartheid on her life; of the deep belief that each person is worth something and of the challenge to embrace change. Having witnessed many single-parent families struggling to survive, Zolani challenged teachers to train boys to be good fathers and to believe in themselves.
Zolani commented that the mix of race she saw seated before her was something that never would have happened 20 to 30 years ago. She urged everyone present to pool their talents and resources to create a different future and to learn from the past.
To everyone’s delight, Zolani performed three songs, two of which everyone was encouraged to sing along to; and one, the well known 2010 World Cup Soccer hit, `Waka-Waka’, which had the youth (and many staff members) out of their seats, dancing.
Lots more photos may be seen in the photo gallery: