Soweto Uprising - 16 June 1976
The Soweto Uprising was a series of protests led by high school students in the Soweto community in South Africa. Students from various schools protested against the Apartheid government’s introduction of the white minority’s language of Afrikaans as the main medium of instruction in schools where the vast majority of the students could not speak the language and thus lowered their quality of education even further as it was not the first language of both teachers and students.
The crowd of between 3,000 and 10,000 students made their way towards the area of the school. Students sang and waved placards with slogans such as, “Down with Afrikaans”, “Viva Azania" and "If we must do Afrikaans,Vorster must do Zulu”. Some of the children started throwing stones as soon as they spotted the police patrol, while others continued to march peacefully. Colonel Kleingeld drew his handgun and fired a shot, causing panic and chaos. Students started screaming and running and more gunshots were fired. The police loosed their dogs on the children, who responded by stoning the dogs to death. The police then began to shoot directly at the children.
An estimated 20,000 students took part in the protests. The number of people who died is usually given as 176, with estimates of up to 700.
We will never forget the sacrifice that was made that day, what those young people fought for and that we should always be grateful for the freedom that we have.