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Thifhelimbilu Nembudani
 
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June 16, 1976: A Nation died

18 June 2014, 21:30
One of the best things the media and anti-apartheid movements did after the massacre of 16 June 1976 was to use certain fallen individuals as the face of the South African struggle.

It was a brilliant idea then. It is not now.

When the Apartheid regime decided to introduce Afrikaans as a mode of teaching, a meeting was proposed on 13 June 1976 to discuss what should be done. It was then decided that June 1976 will be a day of reckoning.

A day where a human will, will defy tanks, guns, a barbaric regime and dogs in pursuit of freedom and humanity.. It is important to note that a response has been simmering mainly because the black struggle against white supremacy did not start when the then authority introduced Afrikaans as a mode of instruction to black schools.

It didn’t start when the regime subsidized the white kid with R644 and a black kid with a mere R42. The struggle began the day white people decided that they are better than black people. The day whites decided to enslave, kill and enslave Africa and Africans.

At an agreed time, they set off for Orlando West Secondary School in the now famous Vilakazi Street. They had planned to march from the school to the Orlando Stadium. Once in the stadium the plan was to agree on a list of grievances and then possibly march to the Department of Education in Booysens, Johannesburg.

But this didn’t happen. It didn’t.

Police responded in the only way they knew how: with a bloody and violent crackdown. Teargases were thrown and police dogs unleashed. It was as if it’s in the page of Frederick Owone book, Houseboy, but here death was to come soon. The first shot came. It hit its intended target; a human being. Dreams at that moment were shattered. Bullets started to rain. A human being down. Human beings down. They kept shooting.

The official figure from the Apartheid regime was 23. South Africa History Online put the number of the executed at the staggering 200. It could more. It could be less but it was cold blooded murder. That day a mother lost a son. She could no longer have him at the dinner table, her wishes for him died and the sight of police gave her untold pain and memories. Painful memories.

When colonel Kleingeld and his colleagues pulled the trigger, a father never saw his daughter alive. He mourned for her loss and what could have been.he saw simplest thing that reminded him of her. A doll, A book and even perhaps a mere pen. Maybe in Langa, Meadowlands or Orlando he still wonder which  smartphone she would have loved, which team she would have been cheering for at the Brazil World Cup and if she would have shed a tear when Bafana Bafana was eliminated in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

When the bullets had ceased, the dust almost settled. Those bullets had not only penetrated Soweto. They had reached far places and ripped QwaQwa, Mangaung, Thohoyandou, Soshanguve, Maputo and even London. The bullets had pierced the world. The massacre in 16 June lies in the same book in which the Nanking Massacre in China has been authored, a page of the EL Corte killings of the Haitians takes a chapter and the pain of the

Palestine is still being authored.

Alas, the book is still being authored.

It is understandable that at days like this we can pick heroes and raise someone to represent others. We, as human beings, need to guard against personalizing or individualizing 16 June 1976. A revolution has always been for the people, by the people.

During the address by President Zuma on the occasion of his inauguration as the President of South Africa, he put it well when he said: “ours is a nation that has produced generations of selfless freedom fighters, who made untold sacrifices.”

Until we as human of all races acknowledge that Apartheid, Slavery or colonization affected all black people in a negative way. Black people will sit with the Van der Merwe, du toit and Wellington of our time. They will have tea and koeksisters under the banner of a rainbow nation.

All will be good until blacks show the scars of apartheid. Internal and external scars. Scars that some believe exist anywhere and somewhere else, except on the black people they interact with.

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