Maimane was speaking in Orlando West, Soweto, on Thursday, where he laid a wreath at the memorial of fallen young activist Hector Pietersen.
Flanked by the leadership of his party and scores of party supporters Maimane emphasised the value of education for today’s young people.
In paying tribute to the youth of 1976 for their courage and sacrifice, Maimane reflected on the personal significance that the uprising against Bantu education had on his life.
“It means personally to me that thanks to their sacrifice that I was able in a democratic South Africa at least, to go to school. My parents never had that opportunity, they were part of a generation of 76 – where ultimately for so many of them today they look back and say that their generation should have been worth it so that their kids and our kids be able to find a quality education.”
Dressed in his Allen Glen High School white blazer, a solemn Maimane, flanked by Gauteng leader John Moodley and Joburg Mayoral Candidate Herman Mashaba, laid a wreath at the foot of the Hector Pietersen Memorial. He called for the youth to take up the baton and realise the vision of a new society fought for by their counterparts forty years ago.
“We must put governments that are not corrupt, that make sure that every cent that is spent is invested in the future of young people that we don’t just pay lip service, that when we talk of opportunities and an inclusive society that we prosper as a society black, Indian, white and coloured. These were young people that fought for their equality and they remind us today that freedom is not won , it must be fought for by every generation.”
Orlando West was a hive of activity with school children, tourists, ordinary citizens and political party members in their various regalia present.
Groups of drum majorettes, food stall operators and dare-devil rollerbladers mingled with the few hundred DA supporters that proceeded to march through the streets of the township.
The party brought with it a festive mood to the already bustling Vilakazi Street, famous for being home to two nobel prize laureates former President Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
Bloemfontein school teacher Zwelinzima Qwinana sat on the pavement of a food outlet enjoying a plate of pap, tripe and chakalaka . He says he was determined to relive the history of his generation -reflecting on the difference between now and then.
“Everything is there but they don’t use it. That time there were no facilities that they are given now, we had to pay school fees, I think they are not doing enough, we had to go through apartheid system through the challenges of that time but we managed to do it.”
The young people themselves were also in a reflective mood – using the day to examine their state of being and their future.
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