Thursday, 16 June 2011

Least we forget

On 16 June 1976 at 10h30, 12 year old Hector Pieterson was shot and killed by the South African Police when they open fire on students protesting their instruction in Afrikaans, the language of their oppressors.

I was a boy of 9 in Nardini Convent School in Vryheid when this incident happened and it was deliberately kept out of the ears of the white populace at the time. My son Matthew is 12 now and here he is looking at a protest sign stating "To Hell with Afrikaans" 35 years later very close to the spot where Hector was shot. What is going through his mind right now as he tries to comprehend those dark times of our history?

He has never experience, thank God, what it was like living under apartheid. Today, Youth Day, we went to the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Orlando West to remember this dreadful day 35 years ago. Matthew and I then took a walk down Vilikazi Street and scrambled up the koppie behind the Phefeni Senior Secondary School where most of the kids took shelter from the police bullets to see the lay of the land. It was a beautiful winters day and the view beautiful. A fitting end to a wonderful day of remembrance in Soweto. Teach our children so that they can learn from our mistakes.

2 comments:

Shanda said...

'Teach our children so they can learn from our mistakes.' That is a valuable lesson. My husband was Rhodesian and he has always been diligent about teaching our children to love and accept all peoples. He has done a good job too!

Philip Coetsee said...

Just to set the record straight, apartheid was for home language instruction, not against it.

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