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Youth Day in South Africa Why is it so important

Youth Day in South Africa: Why is it so important?

Youth Day, celebrated on the 14th of June each year in South Africa, is a public holiday commemorating the brave young students of the country who rose against injustice. Simply put, the nation wouldn’t be like this if not for them.

But what exactly is it that they did and why is it so important? In this article, let’s look at why it’s so important that we celebrate Youth Day in South Africa and what activities you can try out to show your support for this holiday’s cause!

History of Youth Day

History of Youth Day

Youth Day commemorates what is known as the Soweto Uprising, which happened on June 16, 1976. During the said event, thousands of students died when they were ambushed by the apartheid regime. 

But why did this occur?

The catalyst for this uprising came two decades earlier, specifically in January 1954 when the Bantu Education Act was enacted. This law mandated black children to attend government-run schools and learn subjects using the English language.

However, this newly established educational system resulted in poor quality education mainly caused by ill-trained teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and poor facilities. In short, this schooling “trained” Africans to be servants and labourers.

Come January 1976, the government required all subjects to be delivered in Afrikaans. Aside from English, the government only recognised Afrikaans as the official language and banned all the other indigenous ones.

This resulted in an uproar amongst students, teachers, and parents prompting around 20,000 students to peacefully protest this move by the government. Tragically, the protest led to the brutal killing of around 176 protesters by the police.

Why is Youth Day important to South Africa?

Why is Youth Day important to South Africa

Youth Day is important to South Africa, as it commemorates the brave young students of the country who protested against injustice and called on their fellow citizens to demand equal rights from the government.

The peaceful revolt ended in tragedy, but it was also pivotal. Due to the outrage caused by the murder of peacefully protesting students, international pressure mounted against South African law on education resulting in changes to government school policies.

Things to Do During Youth Day

Now that you have an idea of the history of Youth Day and its significance to South Africa as a nation, let’s look at some of the youth-oriented things you can do and experience during this very important public holiday.


Address: 37 Main Rd, Muizenberg, Cape Town, 7945, South Africa

Contact Number: +27 87 729 1657


  • R 150 to R 175 per ticket

To celebrate the contribution of the youth to nation-building, why not bring your kids to watch a local play during the holiday? We recommend visiting the Masque Theatre located in Cape Town, as it features some wholesome youth-oriented plays.

Most of their plays also portray the local culture of the country, making them ideal if you want to immerse yourself in South African traditions. Some of their plays and events include The Banquet (a ballet spectacle) and a rendition of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Pro Tip:
During Youth Day, the Masque Theatre usually offers promos and discounts for kids and teens. Check out their website and social media accounts to find out if they have any special rates for this holiday.


Address: 95 Melville Rd, Plumstead, Cape Town, 7800, South Africa 


  • R 50–R 125 for runners 
  • R 30 for non-runners

Certain organisations conduct fundraisers for their youth-focused projects during Youth Day. One such NGO, Youth In Transformation, offers an annual walk or run for a cause during Youth Day to raise funds for the education of disadvantaged youths.

You can choose to join the 5-kilometre run if you’re just a beginner, but if you’re more confident in your running abilities, then you can also try the 10-kilometre run. Walkers are also free to join, and you can just stroll with the runners while enjoying the sights!

Pro Tip:
After walking or running during this fundraiser, don’t forget to drop by the stations offering food, drinks, and activities for kids and adults. You can also join some of the contests on-site to win some prizes.


Address: 55 Highlands Rd, Elgin Valley, Grabouw, 7180, South Africa 

Contact Number: +27 60 861 1044 


  •  Around R 90–R 145 per meal 

Aside from running or walking for a cause, you can also enjoy some treats during Youth Day to help organisations raise funds to support causes for the next generation. One location where you can do this is at Cheverells Farm.

Aside from the stunning views at this venue, you can also enjoy some homemade waffles and old-fashioned sundaes. Buying these treats from Cheverells during Youth Day supports Siphila Sonke, a group that provides youth informal settlers in Elgin. 

Pro Tip:
If you’re not up for something sweet, you can also try their other menu options here. They serve some heavy breakfast items and snacks such as burgers, chips, salads, and snack trays.


Address: 68 Orange St, Gardens, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa 

Contact Number: +27 21 424 5927 


  • R 70 per ticket 

To better appreciate Youth Day, why not watch some youth-oriented films that capture the aspirations of African youths? Fortunately, there are independent art theatres that feature films tackling the issues, challenges, and triumphs of these young ones.

One such theatre you may want to check out is the Labia Theatre located in Cape Town. It’s an amazing experience to watch socially significant movies and productions that deal with very real issues such as “Lean on Each Other,” “Moffie”, and “Asinamali.”

Pro Tip:
During Youth Day, the Labia Theatre offers discounts and even free movie screenings of youth-centric films. Make sure to check out their website or social media pages to stay updated on their latest offers. 


Address: Polkadraai Rd, Kuils River, Cape Town, 7580, South Africa 

Contact Number: +27 66 373 7586


  •  Around R 100 per person for the braai competition

South Africans love braai and rightfully so; it’s a fantastic way to prepare some great food while surrounded by some fantastic company. If you visit such a competition, like the ones hosted by Dirt and Dust, your team needs to prepare a full-course meal.

You need to prepare a starter, main course, and dessert. After the cook-off contest, you can also participate in other events such as kids’ activities and off-road racing before sampling the different food stalls set up onsite.

Pro Tip:
Aside from the braai cookout offered by Dirt and Dust, there are also other venues to enjoy a similar event but with more kid-friendly activities. Egoli Funpark, for example, offers pony rides and jumping castles during Youth Day. 


Address: 70, 72 Bree St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa

Contact Number: +27 21 424 0074


  • Around R 300 for a Youth Day ticket

Head down to an art gallery during Youth Day to widen your cultural horizons. We suggest you check out Youngblood Art Gallery for the variety of fine art it houses.

During Youth Day, the said gallery showcases musical performances, poetry reading, and interesting art pieces that perfectly merge the past with the present. It usually features works exploring childhood nostalgia during the holiday, so be sure to drop by!

Pro Tip:
If you fancy yourself a true art connoisseur, then you can also drop by this art gallery if you want to join one of its auctions. It’s a great way to score fantastic and artsy finds while at the same time supporting local artists!


Address: 25 Queen Victoria St, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa 

Contact Number: +27 21 481 3800


  • R 60 for adults and kids

Aside from art galleries, museums are also amazing locations that you can visit during this public holiday. One such establishment that we can’t recommend enough is the Iziko Museum since it offers free entrance to its premises on Youth Day.

What’s fascinating about this museum is that it offers a colourful overview of the history of South Africa. You’ll see the Slave Lodge colonial museum, exhibitions like JellyWorld, and the Hidden Wonders exhibition. 

Pro Tip:
This museum also houses an impressive array of books via its three large libraries—the Natural History Library, Social History Library, and the National Gallery Library. If you or your kids are bookworms, this is the place to be!

From bihchendi

Address: South African cities (such as Cape Town and Johannesburg)

Inner city festivals are great ways for you to live it up during Youth Day. Along with the locals, you can party the night away while enjoying tons of drinks, feasting on delicious local cuisine, and checking out the tons of stalls selling different items and trinkets.

They also feature club music for you to groove to such as hip-hop and R&B. If you’re into fashion, you’ll also be able to shop for discounted items such as shirts, bags, and accessories that not only show your sense of style but also your support for local stores!

Pro Tip:
The locations for these Inner City events can vary from one year to the next. As such, it’s best to check your social media feed (e.g. HeartSpace Events & Markets) or ask a few locals where the festival is going to be held. 

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