The Youth Day Uprising And Its Aftermath

Students from numerous Sowetan schools began to protest in the streets of Soweto in response to the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in local schools. It is estimated that 20,000 students took part in the protests. They were met with fierce police brutality. The number of protesters killed by police is usually given as 176, but estimates of up to 700 have been made.

On the morning of 16 June 1976, between 10,000 and 20,000 black students walked from their schools to Orlando Stadium for a rally to protest against having to learn through Afrikaans in school. Many students who later participated in the protest arrived at school that morning without prior knowledge of the protest, yet agreed to become involved. The protest was planned by the Soweto Students’ Representative Council’s (SSRC) Action Committee, with support from the wider Black Consciousness Movement. Teachers in Soweto also supported the march after the Action Committee emphasised good discipline and peaceful action.

Although the government backed on its Afrikaans language policy in July 1976, schools throughout the country continued to be disrupted until the following year. Many student leaders were detained, over thousand were killed, mainly through police action, and many thousands more were wounded.

In Austerville, following the uprising, among those who were involved in the ripple effect of riots were; Keith Joseph, Robert McBride, Derick Mcbride, Marcel Andrews, Clifford Collings, Greta Apelgren, Myrtle Beaunoir, Trevor Bonhomme, Vincent James, Gordon Webster, Antonio Du Preez and Kevin Curtis. We salute them and others who are not mentioned here.

 Keith Joseph, Gordon Webster, Antonio Dupreez,Kevin Curtis, Derrick McBride.

In remembrance of these events, 16 June is now a public holiday in South Africa, named Youth Day.

By: Lorraine Richards

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