If there is anything that history has taught us, it is that the Youth have the power and ability to change the circumstances that they are faced with. History has time and time again shown us evidence that the Youth are the pivotal force of bringing about necessary change in our countries, and continent. Events that occurred in previous years were caused by the dissatisfaction of the youth with the status quo. One such memorable example of these events is the Soweto Uprising on the 16 June 1976, the Day of the African Child.
On that fateful day, it was the youth who took a stand and protested against the education injustice, they stood against the inequality that was present in the apartheid regime. They were well aware of the consequences, they knew they would lose their lives. They became our ‘Heroes and heroines’. It is because of their act of dissatisfaction with the lives they were being handed that they stood for the ‘us’. These youth marched to show their disapproval of the Black Education Act which was used to segregate students based on their race.
Commemoration of this day reminds us of the relevance of the stand by the youth in 1976. Today, we continue from where they left off. The youth who took a stand paved the way for us to access quality education. Their efforts were recognized by the Organisation of the African Union (now African Union, AU) in 1991 when they declared the 16th of June as the Day of the African Child. The theme for the AU this year is ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth’, it sets the stage for the youth to demand and receive quality education. It sets the scene for the youth to be empowered employed. Africa’s population, by 2050, is forecast to have risen to 2.5 billion with half of all Africans under the age of 25. Clearly, investments need to be made by the African leaders that will benefit the youth.
The AU theme for the Day of the African Child is “Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030″. Our call as youth should be to the AU to ensure that indeed they prioritise the education, employment and empowerment of the Youth. Let this commitment bear results that will create opportunities Youth that marched on 16 June 1976 dreamt of.. Similar to the stand that the youth made in 1976, today, this year, we call on the AU to prevent a looming crisis by ensuring that they ‘Harness the Demographic Dividend’. The opportunity is upon our African leaders to ensure the 450 million new workers entering the economy between 2015 and 2035 have access to quality employment opportunities.
Let us stand together and send a message to the AU leaders to indeed ‘Harness the Demographic Dividend’. Sign the AU Postcard to be delivered at the AU Summit.