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Panel Discussion: 40th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising

The Friends of the "Sechaba" at SODI are invited to a panel discussion on the occasion of the 40th anniversary

May 18th, 2016

On June 16, 1976 thousands of students protested in the Soweto township in Johannesburg against the introduction of Afrikaans, the language of the oppressor in apartheid South Africa, at their schools.

Police beat brutally the demonstrators and the image of the murdered Hector Pieterson went around the world. Soweto became a beacon of resistance to apartheid and a milestone of international solidarity. The rise of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) and the formation of South African Students Organization (SASO) raised the political consciousness of many students while others joined the wave of anti-Apartheid sentiment within the student community.

When the language of Afrikaans alongside English was made compulsory as a medium of instruction in schools in 1974, black students began mobilizing themselves. On 16 June 1976 between 3000 and 10 000 students mobilized by the South African Students Movement's Action Committee supported by the BCM marched peacefully to demonstrate and protest against the government’s directive. The march was meant to culminate at a rally in Orlando Stadium.

On their pathway they were met by heavily armed police who fired teargas and later live ammunition on demonstrating students. This resulted in a widespread revolt that turned into an uprising against the government. While the uprising began in Soweto, it spread across the country and carried on until the following year.

The aftermath of the events of June 16th, 1976 had dire consequences for the Apartheid government. Images of the police firing on peacefully demonstrating students led an international revulsion against South Africa as its brutality was exposed. Meanwhile, the weakened and exiled liberation movements received new recruits fleeing political persecution at home giving impetus to the struggle against Apartheid. The Panel discussion will begin on 9th of June 2016, at 4.30 p.m. in the Willner-Brauerei (Berlin). Come and take a part of this historic event.

References and Links

News from Berlin
Maurycy Barański, Berlin Global