WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS CELEBRATE YOUTH MONTH
South Africa’s leading wheelchair tennis men’s player Evans Maripa and top juniors Alwande Skhosana and Mpho Mhlongo commemorated Youth Month with Soweto uprising icon Hector Pieterson’s sister, Antoinette Sithole at the Hector Pieterson Museum in Orlando West, Soweto on Thursday.
The three ecstatic aces were elevated to finally meet Sithole, who was on the famous photograph captured on 16 June, 1976 running alongside Mbuyisa Makhubu, who was carrying the dying 12-year-old Hector in his arms.
The 58-year-old Sithole who now gives tours at the Museum built just a few blocks from where her brother was shot said it excites her to see disabled youth make a difference, “I love tennis a lot even though I don’t understand some of the rules but it is very inspiring to watch wheelchair tennis. I am always happy to see young people make a difference, these are champions and are a great part of this country,” commented Sithole.
“I urge other young people out there to take a stand in a positive way, whatever grievance they have, they mustn’t burn schools or libraries – Yes, during the uprising we marched on the streets of Soweto but we never destroyed institutions that we know generations to come will be using them. We didn’t have better opportunities during our time but today will live in a democratic country and I want to remind our youth as we commemorate the Soweto Uprising that they can be anything they want,” added Sithole.
Today marks 41 years since the historic 16 June 1976 Soweto uprising, where students united in the fight against an oppressive education system and the country’s world number 11 Evans Maripa said he was touched by Sithole’s story. “We were taught all about the Soweto Uprising at school but today I got very emotional when Sithole told the story, to learn that over 577 lives were lost for our freedom today. It is just unbelievable to get the story from the woman who was part of the uprisings,” said Maripa.
South African rising star Alwande Skhosana from Durban in Kwazulu-Natal says he feels privileged to have his freedom today following the struggle of students in 1976,” The June 16 tragedy is such a heart-breaking story but we salute the likes of Hector Pieterson and others for fighting for the freedom we have today,” said Skhosana.
“Spending the day with Antoinette Sithole was just unbelievable, I used to see her only on pictures and today I had an honour of meeting her, what a GREAT woman! I have learnt a lot today about South African history and I will always remember the role played by young people in the country’s fight for freedom and democracy,” added Skhosana.