A restaurant in Soshanguve used Youth Day to both commemorate the youth of 1976 and celebrate recent graduates who have had a trying year. 

The graduates and their loved ones were invited to a free lunch while wearing their graduation gowns at Something Sosha Lifestyle, on June 16, 2021. This is as many graduation ceremonies across the country were cancelled or postponed in the last year due to covid-19 related lockdowns and restrictions.  

Petunia Martha, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in advanced nursing science from Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, told Wits Vuvuzela that she spent years studying part-time while being an employee at Odi Community Hospital in Mabopane, Pretoria as a registered nurse.  

Two graduates dressed for the occasion. Photo: Facebook

First-time graduates were looking forward to walking across the stage to receive their qualification while being celebrated by family, friends and peers, but this has not been possible due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. Despite Martha being unable to have a traditional graduation ceremony, she said that the event made her “feel celebrated, and the free lunch means a lot to me”.  

Thandi Ntshobane, a two-time graduate went to the restaurant to celebrate the graduation of her cousin, Refilwe Zitha. She noted the importance of hosting spaces like this on Youth Day to “motivate people to go to school”.  

“Vent in your books. You will be proud of your achievements,”  said Ntshobane to Wits Vuvuzela. While adhering to covid19 regulations, she felt that it would be even better if the restaurant hosted graduation celebrations twice a year.  

Refilwe Chauke, a bachelor of supply chain management graduate from Tshwane University of Technology, told Wits Vuvuzela that today’s youth are faced with unemployment and that the competition at a workplace is tough without having relevant qualifications or experience. She encouraged young people to educate themselves. 

“Success does not come easy. There are financial, mental and environmental issues [students are faced with], but should find alternative ways to prioritise studying,” said Chauke. She is currently pursuing her honours degree in the same course, and at the same institution. 

Co-owner of the restaurant, Kgomotso Thebe, said that they want to see a positive change in the community since they opened in December 2019. Thebe told Wits Vuvuzela that Something Sosha Lifestyle is all about “giving back to the community”.  

They also support an orphanage called Jehovah Jirah Orphanage Centre, and host a monthly event called ‘The Eats’ where the restaurant donates cooked food to charity.  

Thebe, Tebogo Matjeke and Gloria Mtila, the women who co-own Something Sosha Lifestyle, are seeking sponsorship to continue celebrating graduates annually on Youth Day. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Graduates of 2021 were celebrated on Youth Day at Something Sosha Lifestyle. Photo: Melissa Sima