On June 16, 1976, thousands of schoolchildren took to the streets of Soweto to march peacefully against the apartheid government. They were protesting against the use of Afrikaans has a medium of instruction in mathematics, arithmetic, and social studies, but their anger went deeper. What they wanted was to be treated as equals to white students.
The rest is history.
On June 16, Youth Day, South Africa commemorates their sacrifice and celebrates their commitment to freedom. Those schoolchildren in 1976 wanted to take their destinies in their own hands. They wanted the freedom to make their own choices. They wanted the tools to be in control of their destiny, rather than victims of arbitrary laws designed to keep them in a place assigned to them by race.
This is ultimately what freedom is about, and what struggles for justice both in South Africa and elsewhere in the world have aimed to achieve: freedom for people to choose. To decide for themselves, rather than having others do it for them.
Making good decisions is a responsibility of all citizens, including corporate ones. As a company, we focus on brewing beer, a product that is at its heart about shared enjoyment with others. But we are aware that it is not just adults who drink our products, but teenagers too. Underage drinking is a real problem in South Africa, and it is one that we as brewers of South Africa’s biggest beer brands must tackle.
This is why SAB partnered with government to create the You Decide programme which targets underage drinking. Supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, the NYDA and provincial departments of education, You Decide is a groundbreaking, comprehensive programme aimed at changing behaviour at both a community and an individual level.
For the next two weeks, leading up to June 16, we will be focusing on You Decide and how this programme gives young people the tools to choose for themselves even when under pressure.