The Future is Ours: Commemorating Youth in Struggle

This guide for educators is based on the SAHA portable exhibition kit entitled The Future is Ours: Commemorating Youth in the Struggle, in which artefacts from the archives provide a lens into decades of young people’s resistance to apartheid.

On June 16 each year, the anniversary of the Soweto Uprising, South Africa commemorates the role played by the youth in the country’s struggle for democracy. On this day in 1976, the youth of Soweto took charge and took action against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in their schools. However, the cost of such action was high. Hundreds of young people were killed, thousands were injured and countless were detained without trial.

Now a national public holiday in South Africa known as Youth Day, June 16 is therefore both a sombre day and a day of celebration. We recognise their passion, their determination and their fearlessness in taking on the apartheid state and demanding a better future for themselves. Youth Day then is also a day to pause and remember the sacrifices that the youth made so that today we can be free.

As the South African Youth Congress stated:

 “The youth have occupied the foremost trenches in the battle for freedom in South Africa”.

(Youth in Action”, SAYCO newsletter, date unknown).

In this booklet, we acknowledge the significant contribution made by the youth in the struggle against the oppressive apartheid state, for their own freedom and the freedom of South Africa. The exhibition kit and this booklet focuses largely on the 1970s and 1980s when youth made their voices heard and played an active and substantial role in destabilising the apartheid state.


Download The Future is ours : Exhibitions in the classroom booklet (3MB)



There is also an online version of the The Future is Ours exhibition that includes downloadable copies of many of the primary sources – posters, photographs, pamphlets, reports, speeches - that appear in the exhibition panels.