Jul 06
Vilakazi Street 1976 … fast forward to 2017

16.jpgIt has been 41 years since the Soweto uprising took place on that fateful day now remembered as June 16, 1976.

The youth back then fought for the freedom of today's youth to be whatever they would like to be without prejudice and by the looks of things when strolling down Vilakazi Street today, all their blood, sweat and tears were not in vain.

South Africa is not the same as it was back then, a number of people have benefited from the struggle and are today earning a living, using the history of Soweto as their currency. Soweto has been at the centre of attention since the year 1976, and a lot of people from different countries, both within and outside of the continent, travel all the way to Soweto to learn more about South Africa's township made famous by our country's racist and divided past.

Just outside the Hector Pieterson Museum are lots of beautiful artworks made by ordinary South Africans who sell their wares to tourists. Samora Ngwenya a trader and a Soweto resident, has been selling his artwork right outside the museum for 12 years and according to him "business is doing really well."​

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The biggest question was whether or not he feels he has benefited from the uprising and he said he has, although he feels there is still more that needs to be done with regards to the stalls that they have been allocated. "It is not easy for us to sell here especially when it is hot because we do not have shades but we are hoping things will change in the near future and that we will expand in order to make more money" he said.

Just a few minutes from the museum there is the famous Vilakazi Street. The street is known for housing two Nobel Peace Prize winners and today there are different restaurants and even more stalls but on this side of this township street are stalls that are mostly owned by women who are also earning a living from their own designs. Right in the same street is Shova Lifestyle, a branding and clothing company that sells products designed by young designers. Shova Lifestyle is all about grooming and assisting young black entrepreneurs to kick start their businesses.

Zimkhitha Shova (20) is also a part of this venture. She is a student but also makes time to run the shop after her lectures. The young woman strongly believes in empowering other youngsters like herself and making a difference in what she terms "the township economy". You can tell that people love their work by just looking at their faces when they walk in. "Shova Lifestyle is more than just a shop Zimkhitha explains. It's a way of life.

 

It is because of the youth of 1976 that today the black South African youth are able to start their own businesses, be their own bosses and empower their brothers and sisters to do great things There are definitely young people out there rising and if others can do it, you can too. We salute the youth of 1976!

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ENDS

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training as a private higher education institution under the Higher Education Act, 1997 (reg. no. 2007/HE07/002). Company registration number: 1987/004754/07.

Written by Wanga Nemavhola​​​

Video and photos by Lebohang Kobeli