rebelling against low expectations

Youth Day in South Africa


In South Africa on the 16th of June we celebrate a public holiday known a Youth Day. We celebrate this day in commemoration of the Soweto Uprising in 1976. Twenty thousand students from many different schools joined together to protest against a government announcement that had just been made: Half the school curriculum including Math and Afrikaans was to be taught in Afrikaans.

Students were tired of the discrimination between white and black people. They wanted good education in a language that they could actually understand. A protest was organized for June 16, 1976, and twenty thousand students joined together to make a difference. It is usually said that 176 teenagers died that day but it is estimated that the number is closer to 700.

When something goes wrong around us these days we sit and complain but take no action. We say “that’s so terrible” but don’t do anything about it. Not so long ago we heard that school books were being dumped on the side of the road and not taken to the schools that desperately wanted and needed them. We didn’t do anything about it though.

I know that I need to be taking action more too and so I will be looking for more opportunities. Lets open our eyes and see what problems there are. When we discover what they are then we need to do something about them! Choose something that saddens or angers you. Be it education, aids, hunger, orphans or something else. Lets rise up and do something.

You don’t even have to organize something yourself. You could support charities financially or jump in and volunteer. If you are handy with crocheting or knitting then you can send through squares for blankets for Knit-A-Square, you could join a feeding weekly feeding program, you could collect school books for underprivileged children and teens who want to learn but don’t have the resources. The list is so long.

It’s not impossible to do something. Twenty thousand teenagers did something. Just remember that in that large number every single young person had to make the decision to do something hard.

Think about this, If the government were to announce right now that half your curriculum was to be taught in a language that you don’t understand, would you be ready to organize a protest?

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About the author

AJ Timberlake

is a 16 year old homeschooler doing hard things in South Africa. Her life verse is Matthew 16:24 "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself take up his cross and follow me" She runs the blog and has a passion for making a difference.


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  • That is really awesome, AJ!
    I mean, teens are standing up for what they believe and they are actually doing something!! I know that in my home state, Teens (and adults. Sorry adults-it’s true.) let it past by saying, “We couldn’t do anything” or (The one that drives me craziest) “We are already to far gone.” and i promise you there are more the 20 thousand people to stand up for what we believe… I am totally sharing this.

    Thank-you for being so awesomely inspiring!

      • Wow, i really didn’t think that you would get back to me! THat is awesome
        do you mind if i ask you someI some questions??
        your from south africa, right??? well, i just spent the weirdest three hours of my life at a table with five african teens, and now i want to know all about it!!! Lets see, they were from Sudan, Ethopia, Iraq and Egypt. What is there, like, culture like? What is the ‘norm’ for teens? what is the country like??? (I know that i could google it just as easily, but i want to know from someone who is actually there.) Are you, like, a MK??? All the girls i was with were Muslam. Are people in South africa muslam too??

        You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.
        Awesome sauce. 🙂

        • Hi Awesome Sauce.

          I am from South Africa, I’ve lived here all my life and so have my parents. I am not an MK but my family does a lot of work with churches and I have done a lot of missions work (you can read about that stuff on my blog

          South Africa is very far away from those countries you mentioned (if you look at the continent of Africa it is the country right at the bottom) and the only other African country I have been to is Lesotho (a tiny country that South Africa surrounds that if I am correct was separated during Apartheid). Iraq is actually in Asia and not in Africa.

          South Africa is actually a first world country and so life here isn’t much different than other countries such as America or England. The cultural norm for some teenagers is spending way too much time on their phones, computers and watching TV. School is a chore and parents are there to drive you to the mall. But that is only if you live in the more wealthy bracket of people (usually white). If you are poor (usually black) it is very different: you usually live in a shack (a tiny house of one room made of metal sheets with no floor). School is a blessing if you are able to go and you pray for your next meal to be provided as you do not know where it’ll come from. We are known as the rainbow nation, we have Muslims, Indians, Oriental, Black, Coloured, White and mixed. We have 11 official languages in this country (I can only speak English and write a little Afrikaans) we have made it through racial discrimination (Apartheid) and are a beautiful country. I absolutely love it here.

          Just so you know, we celebrated Youth Day last week and recently celebrated 20 years of freedom for those of all racial groups, who are now allowed to live and work wherever they want and vote in true democratic elections. If you don’t know much about Apartheid you should read up on it a bit – it is sad but fascinating.

          I hope that answered your questions. If you have more feel free to comment again or use

          In His Name,


rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →