Friday, June 16, 2006

Homage to Soweto

Today is Friday, 16 June 2006.

On this day in 1976, a demonstration by schoolchildren in Soweto township, South Africa, was turned by government terrorism into a bloodbath, a crucial landmark in the resistance which would eventually overthrow white supremacist rule.

The target of the demonstration was a 1974 law which mandated that Black students not only learn Afrikaans, the corrupt dialect of Dutch created by their oppressors, but also be taught such subjects as history and mathematics in that language.

Quoth the Deputy Minister of Bantu Education at the time: "I have not consulted the African people on the language issue and I'm not going to. An African might find that 'the big boss' only spoke Afrikaans or only spoke English. It would be to his advantage to know both languages."

The demonstration began with a rally, then a march by 5,000 to 10,000. Student chants included: “If we must learn Afrikaans, Vorster must learn Zulu.”

(B.J. “John” Vorster was prime minister (1966-1978) and president (1978-1979). He was imprisoned during World War II for supporting the Nazis. A staunch proponent of apartheid, he resigned in disgrace in a corruption scandal.)

Confronted by police with automatic weapons, the route was changed. Soon, the police threw tear gas, to which the students responded by throwing stones. Police then opened fire. The government claimed 23 students were killed; responsible observers put the number at 500-600.

An iconic news photo of the time shows the youngest victim of the massacre, Hector Peterson, 12, dying as he is carried in the arms of a fellow student. Today’s memorial in Soweto will take place at the Hector Peterson memorial. Today is Youth Day in South Africa.

As your author is constrained to point out, whenever mentioning South Africa, because of many of his fellow citizens selective memories, successive United States Empire/United and Subject States (USE/USSA) governments provided only token opposition, and, when conservative, outright support to the apartheid dictatorship. “After all, they’re anti-Communist.” These supporters like to forget that apartheid was based directly on the Nazi system (the “Nuremberg Laws”) for control of Jewish Germans.

All honor to the martyrs of Soweto, and to all those who fought apartheid.


Anonymous Reader said...

Thank you for a most appropriate tribute.

9:05 AM  
Blogger HH said...

Thank you, dear reader, for your kindness. But, "the finger pointing is not the moon."

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Reader said...


The meaning of "the finger pointing is not the moon" escapes me.

12:46 PM  
Blogger HH said...

Dear Reader,

A Zen saying. I mean here that no honor accrues to me because I recall and pay homage to the courage and goodness of the martyrs of Soweto. I am pleased, of course, for your kind words, but chagrined, because I only point at the moon of their struggle and sacrifice, not only for themselves, but for all of humanity.

1:12 PM  

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