Here are some final pictures from Soweto and Moletsane High School. I should mention that the students at Moletsane are very eager to establish contact with the students at Ithaca.
Some video appearances from the students at Moletsane High School in Soweto.
My next stop on this tour is Moletsane High School in Soweto. This is one of the schools that participated in the uprising about 40 years ago. Soweto stands for SOuth WEst TOwnship. It is the largest township in Africa and is adjacent to the city of Johannesburg.
The Soweto uprising on June 16, 1976 was a turning point in the anti-apartheid struggle. What has always been most inspiring to me is that the uprising was completely organized by high school and middle school students. These students planned a peaceful march through the township of Soweto to protest the requirement that all courses be taught in Afrikaans. (In a previous post I mentioned that language is the key to understanding South African politics and culture). Afrikaans was the language of the white apartheid regime. The requirement that all students be instructed in Afrikaans, rather than their mother tongue (or English), was an example of the restrictions and oppression of apartheid.
On June 15th black students met secretly, not even their parents or teachers knew, and decided to “go on strike.” The next morning thousands of students walked through the streets of Soweto carrying signs and chanting.
When the students encountered a police barricade and refused to return to school, the police responded by opening fire on the children. The number of casualties was in the hundreds. No one will ever know the exact number because many parents were afraid to even claim the bodies of their dead children. The police quickly collected and disposed of the corpses.
One of the first casualties was 13 year old Hector Pieterson. The image of his body being carried by another student was captured by a photographer and published in newspapers around the world. It was because of the Soweto uprising that world opinion finally galvanized against the apartheid government. The photo at left is from the Hector Pieterson museum in Soweto. The scattered bricks in the courtyard carry the names of some of the students who were killed that day.
Here is a link to an account of that day from one of the survivors.