Monday, June 16, 2008

Remembering the Soweto Riots

The Soweto Riots of June 16, 1976, is a milestone in the struggle against racism in South Africa.

On this day, 32 years ago, Tsietsi Mashininini led high school students and others on a march to protest the 'Afrikaans medium only' policy of the apartheid regime in Black schools.

Several thousand students took to the street and the apartheid regime responded with unbridled violence.

Police and other armed 'official' murderers opened fire on children killing more than 500 according to Reuters news.

Hector Pietersen (12) was among the first to be killed. This famous picture by Sam Nzima captures Hector in the arms of Mbuyisa Makhubo. Hector's sister, Antoinette Pieterson (17), is the young woman alongside Mbuyisa.

The 1976 Soweto Riots conceal many a story of death and brutality at the hands of white racism. But it also tells a grander story of the will to defeat domination and the power of political consciousness.

Black Consciousness leader Steve Bantu Biko inspired the students to take to the streets. It is with his words that I remember the brave school children who fought for our freedom in Soweto, and elsewhere in South Africa:

"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."

Quote taken from Biko's
"I Write What I Like."

This day, memorialized as Youth Day by the ANC-led government, comes at a time when our post-apartheid nation is facing its most serious challenges.

In the past month our streets have seen South African Black folk declare war on Black folk from elsewhere on the continent. When the violence subsided more than 70 innocent people had lost their lives.

Of those killed more than a third were South Africans who were mistaken for migrants.

Inside of this xenephobic violence we had to stare ourselves down and admit that the dream country of 1994 hardly arrived.

We have a long way to go. And it is not a way that can be entrusted to the leaders who hold power now.

If you don't believe me, look closer at the party of Nelson Mandela (ANC), it is falling apart.

If Biko was alive today he would most likely say: I told you not to trust liberals no matter the colour of their skin.

Onward to Azania!


GiGi - The Shy Giraffe said...

another interesting post and educational one for readers such as i am. always learn something new from you =:O)

what you been up to lately?

Ana said...

Respect Brother

Respect to Soweto, Biko's words burn in my heart as well.

Onward Azania & Aotearoa

In Struggle & Solidarity


Dade said...

The news about the anti-immigrant violence is very disheartening.

These are dark times, my friend. Humanity may well be entering a new Dark Ages.

Alas, we have only ourselves to blame.

Ridwan said...

Hello Gigi. Thanks for looking in here sista. I hope all is well on your side and that you still looking through all your pictures from Turkey.

I am well and keeping busy while the weather turns cold. I hate winter, even the one we have here in S. Africa.

The cold makes me want to travel though!

Anyway thanks for your nice comment.

Say Hello to moms from me. Be well Gigi.


Ridwan said...

Hello sista Ana. It is good to hear from you. Peace and respect to you too.

I absolutely agree with you Ana: "Onward Azania & Aotearoa"

The only way for sure.

Be well sista.

Peace and struggle,

Ridwan said...

Hello Dade. Thanks for your comment brother.

We are licking our wounds here. The violence has not completely disappeared.

A great shame no doubt. The fault lies in great part with post-colonial nationalism.

The boundaries between any us and them, anywhere, is entirely artificial.

The nation-state is our oppressor.

Trust you are well Dade.

Peace to you.