The Centre for Political and Development Studies (CPDS), Gaza organized a lecture on Wednesday, May 16 on ‘The Role of Youth in the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa’, delivered by Talgha Bendie, South African activist, who is visiting Gaza currently. The lecturer discussed the role of youth in the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) in South Africa (SA), particularly the Soweto Uprising of 1976.
“The Soweto Uprising was a series of high school student-led protests in South Africa that began on the morning of June 16, 1976. Students from numerous Sowetan schools began to protest in the streets in response to the introduction of Afrikaans as the language of instruction in local schools. An estimated 20,000 students took part in the protests, and about 176 people were killed,” said Bendie, who wore a t-shirt in solidarity with Palestinian hunger-strikers with Palestine’s flag on it.
As in the current situation Palestine, discrimination was a state-sponsored crime in SA. Black and colored people were discriminated against, as the international community remained silent.
“Punt Janson, the Deputy Minister of Bantu Education at the time, was quoted as saying: “A Black man may be trained to work on a farm or in a factory. He may work for an employer who is either English-speaking or Afrikaans-speaking and the man who has to give him instructions may be either English-speaking or Afrikaans-speaking,” added the SA activist.
Mohammed Al-Durra, Eman Hijo, Al-Samouni kids, Mohammed Al-Buraee and thousands of other children were martyred in Palestine at the hands of the Israeli armed-to-the-teeth apartheid regime’s soldiers. The SA regime did it first.
“One of the first students to be shot dead was 13-year-old Hector Pieterson. He was shot at Orlando West High School and became the symbol of the Soweto uprising,” noted Bendie.
“The accounts of how many people died vary from 200 to 600. The original government figure claimed only 23 students were killed. The number of wounded was estimated to be over a thousand men, women, and children,” stressed the activist.
“The Soweto Uprising was a turning point in the liberation struggle in South Africa.”
Some white activists supported the struggle of the indigenous people of SA, after the crackdown led by the white-dominated apartheid regime in Soweto. However he noted that a white doctor who had dedicated his life to working in the townships was killed by a mob, making others reluctant to join the struggle.