There is a similar public holiday in Greece, called Polytechniou, which commemorates the students who two years earlier, in 1974, rebelled against the military junta that has seized power in 1967, and had also managed to bring down a government. The difference is that in Greece the government fell almost immediately, whereas in South Africa it took another 18 years, and interestingly enough, 1976 fell exactly halfway between the introduction of Bantu Education in 1954 and its official demise.
This year we had an Orthodox youth gathering to mark the occasion. I've described what went on there more fully at the gathering here in the orthodoxy Orthodox community for those who are interested.
Fr Athanasius, Fr Pantelejmon, George Bizos, Fr Athinos
Advocate George Bizos, the well-known human-rights lawyer, and Fr Pantelejmon Jovanovic were the main speakers. George Bizos spoke on the meaning of the day, and Fr Pantelejmon spoke on Orthodox monasticism.
As far as I know this was the first such Orthodox youth gathering in Southern Africa, made possible because the church had acquired a 25 hectare plot at Leeuwenkop, west of Pretoria, with the aim of eventually having a monastery (or two - one male and one female) on the site, as well as a conference centre and a place for holding youth camps, etc. An interesting thing is that this area, between Pretoria and Magaliesberg, is positively infested with church or parachurch youth camps, conference centres and the like. The picture shows Fr Spyridon and Fr Pantelejmon, and gives an idea of the setting, which is quite beautiful, though now, in mid-winter, the grass is brown and many trees are bare, and also there are lots of places blackened with veld fires.
It was quite a schlep to get people there from our congregation in Mamelodi, which is on the other side of the town, to the East, and it was quite a squash with ten of us in the car, but they all seem to have enjoyed themselves.
I've described the occasion in different places from different points of view, and so there is also a post on it in my other blog Notes from underground: Youth day - 2006