Sunday, 20 July 2014

Youth Day in Soweto - 16 June

If you have seen the movie Sarafina, then you have a good idea of what the Soweto Uprising was all about. If you have not, a synopsis is that on June 16, 1976, a number of students from Sowetan schools began to protest in the streets of Soweto in response to the introduction of Afrikaans (language of the minority ruling elite at the time) as the language of instruction in local schools. An estimated 20,000 students took part in the protests. The number of people who died is usually given as 176, with estimates of up to 700. 16 June is now a public holiday, Youth Day, in South Africa, in remembrance of the events of 1976.

Going to Soweto to join in the commemoration was as if I was part of history, albeit many years ago.  It was the sort of experience that gave chills up the spine.  To see the number of persons who turned out to retrace the route was simply amazing - thousands came out!

Persons participating in June 16 march in Orlando West, Soweto.
Persons participating in June 16 march in Orlando West, Soweto.

Section of the crowd.

The routes the students took in protest.

The five photos below chronicle the timeline of the march.

Diplomats and ANC reps posing for a photo op.

16 June 1976 changed the lives of ordinary black South Africans.  It is a day we must never forget.

Two Sowetan girls play on the rails of the Memorial Square Mile (dedicated to the memories of those who died in the uprising) as John soaks in the words of the photo.

You can read more about the Soweto Student Uprising here.