Youth Day

African Update – 16/06/12

Youth Day is celebrated on 16 June every year to mark the start of the Soweto riots of 1976 when Black Students in South Africa were on a peaceful march against a decree by the apartheid South African government leading to a bloody massacre by the apartheid police. The students were protesting against a decree that the language of instruction for black schools were to be held in Afrikaans.

Punt Janson, the white 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. Why should we now start quarrelling about the medium of instruction among the Black people as well? ... No, I have not consulted them and I am not going to consult them. I have consulted the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”

The decree was however resented deeply by blacks as Afrikaans was widely viewed, in the words of Desmond Tutu, then Dean of Johannesburg as "the language of the oppressor". Teacher organizations such as the African Teachers Association of South Africa objected to the decree.

The decree was meant to force students to focus more on understanding the language and not the subject material and made any critical analysis of content very difficult and discourage critical thinking among black people.

The bitterness grew until the students started organising themselves and eventually proposed a peaceful march on 16 June 1976. An estimated 20 000 young students took to the streets on that day to protest the decree and roughly 176 were brutally massacred by the apartheid police and many of them were wounded. 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 an iconic figure of the Soweto uprising. A picture of the shot Hector carried by…and followed by his sister became a key symbol in the struggle to overthrow the white apartheid regime in South Africa. The police attack continued as the students fought back and by the close of 1976 the death toll stood at an estimated 600 people including police officers.

It was the day that marked the beginning of the collapse of the apartheid regime. The massacre received international condemnation prompting the United Nations to pass a resolution condemning the apartheid government. Political groups such as the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan African Congress (PAC) capitalised on the situation to mobilise people and stoke more pressure on the apartheid government. It took many more years and bloodshed to overthrow the apartheid government in 1994. The day is celebrated as a national holiday in South Africa as Youth Day to mark the massacre and to remember the courageous young people that day who did what their parents could never imagine doing.

The courage and defiance of the young students that day has greater implications not only for the young people of South Africa but also for young people all across Africa and the whole world. It shows that with courage and determination young people can achieve their ambitions and bring change and face challenges in their lives.

Author: Stephen Atalebe, African student of Economics, Mendel University Brno, Czech Republic

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Xoliswa Ndoyiya: Ukutya KwasekhayaTastes from Nelson Mandela’s kitchen

A collection of recipes by Nelson Mandela's personal chef, this book contains the food served to visiting heads of state, celebrities, politicians for more than 20 years. Featuring some of the favourite former South African president's favourite meals including samp and beans, farm chicken, tripe, this book also features paella, peri-peri chicken, prawn curry, and myriad of other delights. With simple, delicious and nourishing recipes, it will interest those who wish to prepare meals that are both elegant and healthy.More

New arrivals

New titles in our library 12/2016

Our library has aquired a number of new and interesting books. Here is the list of the latest titles.

  • Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith
  • Fashion Cities Africa by Hannah Azieb Pool
  • Frantz Fanon: Toward a Revolutionary Humanismby Christopher Lee
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Robinson, James A., Acemoglu, Daron
  • Shakespeare in Swahililand: Adventures With the Ever-Living Poet by Edward Wilson-Lee
  • A History of Modern Africa: 1800 to the Present by Richard J. Reid
  • Authentically African: Arts and the Transnational Politics of Congolese Culture by Sarah Van Beurden
  • Children in Slavery through the Ages by by Gwyn CampbellSuzanne MiersJoseph C. Miller
  • Global Health in Africa: Historical Perspectives on Disease Control by Tamara Giles-Vernick
  • Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos by Gary  Stewart
  • Women and Slavery, Vol. 1: Africa, the Indian Ocean World, and the Medieval North Atlantic by Gwyn Campbell
  • Women and Slavery, Vol. 2: The Modern Atlantic by Gwyn Campbell
  • Cahier d'un Retour Au Pays Natal by Aimé Cesaire
  • Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange and Competition in South Africa, 1820-1948 by Karen Elizabeth  Flint
  • Global Education Policy and International Development: New Agendas, Issues and Policies by Antoni Verger
  • Black Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization, and the Globalization of Psychiatry by Matthew M. Heaton

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