June 16, Youth Day, commemorates the 1976 uprising and deaths of a multitude of Soweto school learners. This year I had the honour of attending the highly anticipated joint book launch and birthday celebration of former president, Mr. Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, hosted by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.

The event boasted a dynamic audience from high school learners to esteemed dignitaries – all placed under one roof for robust debate and thought provoking conversation. To mark the 42nd anniversary of the 1976 uprising, The Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) launched two books.  The first is Volume 7 of the South African Road to Democracy entitled “Soweto Uprisings: New Perspectives, Commemorations and Memorialisation.” This book sparked the debate on the patterns of student uprisings from 1976 to the 2015 Fees Must Fall movement.

 

The second book launched entitled “Building Blocks Towards an African Century: Essays in Honour of Thabo Mbeki.” It encompasses a compendium of essays written by an illustrious group of African academics in honor of Mr Mbeki ’s intellectual contribution to the African continent. The guests were given a chance to partake in the discussion through an open platform where a number of issues where raised such as the limited writings of the work done by Mr Mbeki post 2008 and general accessibility of the academic literature in underprivileged schools and communities.

The climax of the event was the response by the former president himself, as he took the podium and reiterated the need for young people to position themselves to exercise leadership within society and left us pondering on how to become real effective leaders.  All accolades go to the Thabo Mbeki foundation on the invitation and hosting a successful event.