South African Youth Patriotic, Optimistic about National Cohesion, but Low on Civic Engagement

"South Africa celebrates Youth Day every June 16 to commemorate the students who lost their lives during the Soweto Uprising in 1976. An estimated 3,000-10,000 students marched to protest the apartheid government’s directive to make Afrikaans a compulsory medium of instruction in public education, alongside English. The violent police response to this peaceful protest led to a widespread revolt against the government and exposed the brutality of the apartheid state to the international community. These events brought energy back into the liberation struggle and pushed young citizens to play a pivotal role in ending apartheid (South African History Online, 2015). One of the legacies of this history is the paradoxical perception of youth in South Africa today as “the primary catalyst of activism and political change” on one hand and a generation in “crisis” on the other (Mattes & Richmond, 2015, page 1). In January 2015, the government introduced a draft National Youth Policy for 2014-2019, which highlights three key objectives related to consolidating the country’s political culture: strengthening patriotic citizenship, fostering national cohesion, and “encouraging visible and active participation in different youth initiatives/projects and nation-building activities”"