Mbeki Warns Youth About the Threat of AIDS on Anniversary of 1976 Soweto Uprising
South African President Thabo Mbeki on Saturday spoke about AIDS at Youth Day, the annual commemoration of a June 16, 1976, "schoolchildren's revolt against apartheid education" in Soweto, the Associated Press reports. Mbeki stated, "The youth of our country has itself a responsibility to look after themselves," as they are "a very valued resource of our country." He "urged" young South Africans to protect themselves from HIV, which has infected 11% of the nation's population (Associated Press, 6/16). Youth Day commemorates a march in which 23 students were shot and killed as they protested the use of the language Afrikaans in public schools. June 16 was declared a national public holiday when the African National Congress won the country's first democratic election in 1994. The date "remains an important marker of black opposition to white rule," but this year's march was more focused upon HIV/AIDS than politics, Reuters reports (Thomas, Reuters, 6/16). In his remarks, Mbeki said, "As we remember the heroes of 1976, we must ensure that we educate the youth, but if they value their fallen heroes they must participate in the process of transformation." The African National Congress Youth League, a youth group supporting the mission of the ANC, cited AIDS as one of the biggest challenges for South African youth today. ANCYL President Malusi Gigaba said, "We are the first generation to live in a free society. We still have the challenges of building non-racialism, nonsexism, democracy and a better life for all, but new tasks have emerged. Now we must fight against preventable diseases ... like HIV/AIDS and poverty linked to the disease" (Agence France-Presse, 6/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.