Photo by Bongani Mnguni/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images.

On 16 June 1976 high-school students in Soweto, South Africa, protested for better education. Police fired teargas and live bullets into the marching crowd killing innocent people and ignited what is known as "The Soweto Uprising", the bloodiest episode of riots between police and protesters since the 1960s.

South Africans to Commemorate 44th Anniversary of Soweto Student Uprisings

South Africans will celebrate Youth Day this June 16th––here's what you need to know about the historic day.

South Africans will commemorate the 44th anniversary of the Soweto Uprisings tomorrow. Youth Day, commemorated on June 16th, honours the student-led protests of 1976 which challenged the education system under the Apartheid regime. In the past, South Africans have celebrated by participating in various events across the country in addition to massive rallies held by a number of political parties. However, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures, many of the celebrations will take place online.

READ: #FeesMustFall: Where Do We Go From Here?

The Soweto Uprisings saw between 3000-10 000 South African students leading peaceful marches against being forced to learn in Afrikaans—the language of their oppressors—as well as being subjected to an overall sub-standard Bantu Education system. On June 16th, the Apartheid police opened fire on the unarmed students and killed at least 174 including 13-year-old Hector Peterson, the teenager whose image has since become a worldwide symbol of the protests.

Former Prime Minister of the racist National Party and "Architect of Apartheid", Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, is on record saying, "There is no place for [the African] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour." He added that, "It is of no avail for him to receive a training which has as its aim, absorption in the European community." Naturally, Verwoerd was a fierce advocate for the Bantu Education system.

Thus, Youth Day is a day where South African youth especially, reflect on the contributions of their predecessors towards the fight against Apartheid. While the segregationist regime was the proverbial Goliath for youth back then, poverty, inequality and increasing unemployment rates are the challenges facing South African youth today.

Read more about the Soweto Uprisings here.

Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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