Gugs has come a long way; don’t burn history

2018-06-21 06:00
geoff mamputaGugs @60

geoff mamputaGugs @60

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Jy ken mos okokuba uJune 16 wenzeka nge 11 August apha e Dorp.

Ek mien iSoweto uprising yayinguMbumbumbu apha ekasi. It was a sad day, a Wednesday, overcast and drizzing when students marched peacefully from Fezeka High school to ID Mkize Secondary School.

Cava, Fezeka High and ID Mkhize Secondary. So it came to be that on that fateful morning, there was a peaceful march with students singing in very low tones: “Seeeeenzeni na, Senzeni na, Senzeni na, senzeni na…..” marching with placards held high. By the evening 21 students had been shot dead, their bodies dragged like potato sacks on the blood-filled and wet streets of the townships.

Ismoko? Asiyifuni iAfrikaans. In 1975 the government had decided that all black students had to learn all sujects in Afrikaans. Uyazthola? Nge Afrikaans kawu. Suddenly igeography became Aardrykskunde, iMaths became Wiskunde njalo njalo.

It was for some people, suddenly changing from isiXhosa to Greek. You can imagine iititshala zelo xesha had all gone through imissionary education and were struggling with iAfrikaans. U Bla eluzuko (may his soul rest in peace), used to say “hele” instead of “hulle” and “die le u” when referring to “die leeu”. When uThemba Ludada and others, who actually enjoyed the Afrikaans periods because they were struggling with isiXhosa, as they came from Kensington, Retreat, Heathfield or so, tried to correct him, the teacher would take offence and say, “Makwedini, ndithetha isiDutch

One can therefore imagine the effect that this had on the students, some of whom dropped out of school and became cheap labour, which is what the government wanted and some were moved to the homelands by their parents, which also was what the Nationalist government wanted as they did not want Africans in the cities. This introduction of Afrikaans was meant to make us fail as a people. So, yasuka ngo ’76.

In her book, The Diary of Maria Tholo, Carol Hermer diarised the conversations of umam’uTholo, her experiences on a daily basis during this period, in detail. It is a day by day conversation that happened during that fateful period in Cape Town townships, from the perspective of an ordinary mother who is walking abantwana bomlungu in the park whilst her own children are getting shot at.

She details the helplessness of a domestic servant who has to smile and serve the family that she works for whilst anguishing over her own but can only go home on Sheila’s day; Thursdays.

She captures the pain of one who cannot tell the madam that she has heard rumours that her own child has been shot, lest she loses her job for having a child who is a ‘terrorist’. That is what our parents endured during this time.

Maria Tholo puts the beginning of the riots thus in the book: “It has happened. Cape Town is no longer the only quiet place in the country. We have Soweto with us. Wednesday started ordinarily. All of a sudden a mother burst in, shouting, ‘Where is my child?’. Gugulethu is in turmoil. The schools are on strike. The air is thick with teargas. Just go out and see……” We’ve come a long way. Lest we forget the price they paid when we destroy the very amenities, schools, libraries and clinics that we burn down for short term gains.


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