Smells Like Youth Spirit/ Soweto Uprising

“Lets dance in style, lets dance for  a while

Heaven can wait we’re only watching the skies

Hoping for the best but expecting the worst, are you gonna drop the bomb or not?

Let us die young or let us live forever

We don’t have the power but we never say never

Sitting in a sandpit, life is a short trip

The music’s for the sad man…”

First released in September 1984, this Alphaville hit has been sung and reworked by various artists, including when boy band, One Direction recorded a cover of the song for The X Factor  season 7 finals.

Jay Z, Kanye West and Mr Hudson also reworked this 80s hit for Jay Z’s Blueprint 3 album, as Mr Hudson was just one of the few (then) “new voices” on the Blueprint 3, in an interview, Jay Z was asked what he had learned from the new artists, he replied “Their excitement for the game… I love that new energy, whatever they do from there is on them, but that new energy and what they had right there is raw and untapped and pretty much cool”


The very lyrics of the song  express  the bare notion of being young, though more and more people die young, to the mind, dying young remains a taboo as it’s the youth that is expected to carry the flag from one generation to the next… “heaven can wait, we’re only watching the skies”


As awesome as that “new energy” Jay Z loves is when artists first start off in the music industry, how amazing is the holistic energy of someone who has just started off, not a new venture but this soul building, tremulous journey we call life?

Hayley Williams in a still from “Now”(the music video)

I’ve always admired a child’s ability to trust, wide-eyed, seeing everything for the first time, smiling at strangers, kissing everyone, expecting no wrong.
It is that pureness the world needs, they say what you see is what you get, so if you see or expect the worst from people, that’s exactly what you’ll get.
Oppressed by the apartheid regime the students of Soweto weren’t seen as just school kids but a threat to the apartheid government and that’s exactly what they became.


On the morning of June 16th, 1976, thousands of black students went on a protest rally from their schools to Orlando Stadium.
Although the rally was intended to be a peace protest, things soon got out of hand and riots were seen all over the place as hundreds of students were  killed during the protest.



In a world where “turning up” is the new black, I can only hope that the youth would rise up and stand together for a social or political course should there ever be a need, in a world ruled by apathy I can only hope that we can unify and defeat selfish greed, in a world ruled by “cool” I can only hope that the youth can still pull together and be the victors of something as spectacular.


It’s in our hands to keep the youth spirit alive (that’s if it’s still alive), it’s in our finger joints to clench that fist and throw it up over our heads though it’s not our highest asset, but what we can do with it is…

In the spirit of youth day I’ve selected two songs that capture the fire our fallen heroes had, a fire built by a hunger that illuminated their souls as they stood like giants for their rights, a thirst, no, not that of the sexual hip implication of this dot-com age but a thirst for freedom…

First up, we have “Uprising” by Muse


With lyrics like “They will not force us, they will stop degrading us, they will not control us, we will be victorious” this 2009 hit undoubtedly embodies the rebellious spirit our fallen heroes had for their rights, your rights, our freedom…



Now that we have our freedom, where to from here… what do we do with it? how do we preserve it?

Released in 2013 “Now” by Paramore is one hell of a jam, bursting with adrenaline, Hayley Williams screams and chants the lyrics “If there’s a future we want it now!” and  “don’t try to take this from me”…

Who is she referring to? who would try to take this from her/us?

With all the privileges we have today that the youth 40 years ago could only dream of, we still face a variety of challenges as many problems are still growling under the rug.

Unfazed by the attacking soldiers, Hayley Williams looks ahead as she steadily makes her way to her destination, and that my brothers and sisters is something we can all learn from as peer pressure and company are designed to slow us down, we have to give a little more to avoid external factors as we march on to pursue our own personal journeys.




About Ndumiso Mncwabe

When beautiful melodies tell us horrible things and grisly sounds tell us the kind truth. This is where life and music meet. They say music has the power to inspire change, I say music has the power to inspire vibes. Good vibes and bad vibes. It also has the power to inspire thoughts, but most importantly, for it to inspire change, it must inspire conversation. I smell music, I speak music. View all posts by Ndumiso Mncwabe

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