June 16th 1976, the Start of Change

Uprisings

June 16 1976, is an unforgettable day in South African history because it shattered white illusions of peace and prosperity. It started politicians and civil servants talking about the need for "change".

Soweto school children marched on June 16, 1976, to try to see education officials about the "language issue". They realised their parents, teachers and school boards had been unable to persuade the apartheid government to change its iniquitous policy of forcing black children to learn half their subjects in Afrikaans.

If this language is spoken at all by the Soweto people it is usually their third language after English and Sotho or Zulu. There were also insufficient black teachers qualified to teach in Afrikaans. Reason had failed so the kids decided to talk to the education authorities themselves.

On the way, the learners met a group of policemen who stopped them. These men were ignorant of the trigger hair emotions that had built up over the issue.

A shot was fired. A stone was hurled. Which was first will be argued forever, but they sparked off the worst three days of shooting, mob violence, looting and destruction of property that South Africa had ever seen.

Similar incidents rippled through the country during the next six months.

June 16th 1976

On the Wednesday morning of June 16, at around 07h30, about 600 pupils from Thomas Mofolo Junior School in Naledi, Soweto, huddled together to hold a meeting....more

Recording June 16th Made History

The South African government at this time censored all material and suppressed the press from recording the truth, especially when it pertained to demonstrations actively protesting against the apartheid government....more

Youth Day South Africa

South Africa reverberated with shock in response to the protests carried out on June 16, 1976, by thousands of school children in Soweto....more