The aftermath of the June 16, 1976 Soweto uprising is still felt today across South Africa. Youth Day as it is better known as, is a lot more than just a public holiday; it’s a day to commemorate and honour the youth who fought and gave the ultimate sacrifice for equality in the education system as well as the role of youth in the liberation of South Africa.
Women like Sibongile Susan Mthembu, who was a leader in the Soweto Students Representative Council at the time of the 1976 Soweto uprising, were one of the very few women who put themselves in the frontlines of the battlefield for equality. Women like Ma’ Mthembu will forever be remembered for their great sacrifice and paving a new path for the next generation to follow and be greater.
We asked the women youth what they think will be the legacy of the women as the new generation of women leaders.
Zaniwe Banda, 20
“We will be known for being liberated (for the most part). I really do think that us millennial’s have been breaking a lot of boundaries. Saying no to a lot of things that maybe our mom’s, grandmothers and generations before that couldn’t say no to. We will be known for being independent women who don’t need men. Women who do need men hitting that paper by finessing them. We will be known for making our own rules. No term can define a woman. You can be a transgender woman, you still be a woman, which was very taboo then. You can just be born a woman and be a woman and no one is going to say no to you. Just very accepting, open and not being confined by boundaries.
Sibusiso Ndlovu, 23
“We will be remembered for continuing what our previous generation of women did. Like it has been said, a queen mother does not die, she multiplies. We will be remembered as the multiplication, of strength and continuing the fight of things that previously oppressed women and the previously limiting views of women. We will also be remembered for being disruptive, continuing to shake things up. The bad part though is that we have been disruptive to the very things that make a woman a woman, things like sisterhood which I think is dying or not as strong as it used to be in the past. When I hear stories from my mother, we (women) have gotten to point where we want to be so independent that we have even given up disrupted our nurturing side, the part of ourselves that are nurturing and loving each other. We have become so focused on doing it for ourselves and breaking the chains that have held us back previously that we might by mistake be breaking the chains that were always good about us. We will be remembered as disruptors. The good and the bad of it, we will always be the disruptors and the multiplication of our queen mother.”
Hlogi Phahlane, 22
“Women of this generation will be known for their strength and ability to speak out on inequalities and oppressive behaviour. Women were previously disadvantaged and taken backwards and put in places where generally society thought they belonged in, which was to be mothers, look after the house. So, now I believe that women have brought themselves forward to say that they have other abilities outside of being the standards of society and that they can be CEO’s, powerhouses and anything that they want to be without any limits (for the most part). That’s just the good part. There is a negative part, where society has been portraying women being pimps and that’s somehow a disadvantage. You can’t pimp other women and still be regarded as a woman who holds society and is brave because that’s just absurd. Overall women are progressing, they are becoming more and more successful and hold the knowledge and the power of the world. Woman Power.
Amina Patterson, 29
“There are positives and negatives. On the positive side, there are women breaking barriers now. We are more educated than ever before We are better paid than ever before. Although we still have fights to struggle in that area, I really do believe that we are getting there. We have women in science, mathematics and corporate dominating, women creative directors. So, that gives me hope because with these women, each time a woman breaks down a new door and opens new roads for women to travel on and breaks down more barriers it means it’s easier for the next generation of women to come after us. However, I worry that our women today might define what price tag people set on women soul’s in the future.”
Kea Modikoe, 30
“From a positive perspective, I think the legacy we will leave behind is the amount of strength we carry. We are powerful people. Our generation is fearless. We are strong and we are go getters. The negative is that in as much as we know our worth and understand our power we sometimes misuse it for the wrong things.”
Ntokozo nkabinde, 29
“We are able to stand up more for our rights without having to lean too much on our counterparts. Women do things individually. They stand up for themselves, for everything that is incorrect be it women abuse and violence against women.”
We stand in solidarity and honour the youth women who fought and helped pave the path for liberation, so that we have the freedom of choice, speech, and education, human rights and dignity in South Africa.