Sizwe Mpofu-Sizwe. Picture: Itumeleng English

This year marks 42 years since a pivotal moment in South African history. Youth Day commemorates the 1976 youth who stood up against the apartheid government and gave the ultimate sacrifice for equality.

To celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Youth Day, TRACE Urban has started a #16for16 Youth Day campaign, asking 16 young creatives we believe are making waves to either drop a hot 16 bars or answer 16 questions. As a youth brand, TRACE Urban seeks to encourage and honour Youth Month by giving a platform to young South African creatives.

We spoke to young millennials that are impactful, driven and making waves. Among the participants in the campaign is Xolile Nzama, an entrepreneur and the founder of Wanawake book club. Nzama’s book club is a women’s book club focusing on empowering women and the youth through reading.

Trevor Lwere, a Ugandan student at African Leadership Academy, aims at developing the next generation of Africa’s leaders. Lwere was one of the speakers at Tshikululu Social Investment’s 20th conference - Serious Social Investing -where he gave an insightful talk on what he believes are the underlying problems facing the African continent.

Today, South Africa is a free country because of the collective efforts of all those that fought for liberation during the apartheid era. Twenty-four years into democracy, the youth are afforded opportunities that did not exist foryoung people in the 1970s.


Even as we commemorate Youth Day, the question remains whether it’s worth celebrating this moment in history considering we still live in a country where not every individual is enjoying the luxuries of democracy and some live in poverty. 

Entrepreneur Nolo Mokoena, the founder of The Grind Africa, who is also a participant in our #16for16 campaign, hopes to grow as a creative solutionist - making a considerable contribution providing alternative solutions in different sectors of society.

The South African youth have proved over the years that they are not apathetic. The 2015 student-led movement #FeesMustFall has shown their interest, not only in the trajectory of their lives, but also their concern with politics. 

What is clear is that young South Africans are engaging with politics, just as the 1976 youth did. Today they use new platforms and different ways to voice their concern. Young people are a powerful force that cannot be ignored. They are interested, engaged and are continuing with the 1976 legacy as they strive to make their mark.

We believe the youth can influence and disrupt the political atmosphere. Author and academic Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, who is also part of the campaign, speaks well to the narrative of the youth, who are using their own creative platforms to engage with politics. 

Last year he released his rap album and book titled Democracy and Delusion. Mpofu-Walsh has fused his love for rap with that of politics.

* With the #16for16 campaign we aim to inspire thousands of young South Africans.