June 16 this year cannot be marked the same way. The country is in the middle of a war with a dangerous virus, the novel Coronavirus. Like all other peoples of the world, everybody has to play their part do deal a huge blow to this rampaging tiny but dangerous virus. Normally this day, June 16, would be commemorated through the staging of concerts, recitation of poetry, staging of theatrical productions touching on issues of freedom, and listening to long and often boring speeches made by politicians making grandiose promises to all of us.
But not this time around as all resources, human, financial, intellectual and artistic must be used to fight this invisible enemy lurking in our midst.
Young people, particularly young artists have an important role to play, and fight with the same energy and focus as those who in 1976 took on the Apartheid machinery and fought gallantly against injustice.
Though the young artists cannot go on stage to recite poetry, to sing and act, consientising the general public about the danger of not following government restrictions in line with the lockdown regulations that require of all of us to practice social distancing, the young artists can still do something.
They can use the new technology to write poetry that educates the public about how to protect themselves from infection. They can write poetry that inspires the public to look forward to a peaceful future post COVID-19, because there is such a bright future. They can compose songs and verses that they can post on social media to warn the public about complacency when it comes to losing guard when it comes to sticking to measures that will slow the rate of infection, which is going higher and higher since the restrictions were relaxed.
Yes, the artists will not be paid for this, but there will find satisfaction after COVID-19 by the realization that they would have contributed to a just struggle to protect the vulnerable and themselves from an enemy.
And just like the youth of 1976, they would have contributed to the people’s freedom from the oppression of the virus this time around, and not the Apartheid system. That’s sense of satisfaction of having played a meaningful part in protecting the public, no amount of money can buy.
Now this is the time for the youth to play their role again. And as they do so, they must at the same time have compassion for those affected by the disease, through either infection or facing poverty due to the lack of opportunities to earn a living due to COVID-19.
It does not always have to be money, but just to give someone a call and say we are with you in this war is good enough. Those who can help financially to assist those less privileged the better. Let us all unite and fight this war together, and together we shall be triumphant. The youth just like those in 1976 must lead the way in this war of the people against a virus. Celebrate in peace and in safety.