Zeph Mothopeng

LEST WE FORGET: JUNE 16 1976 AND THE BETHAL TRIAL

Sons and daughters of the soil, let me acknowledge with thanks your kind invitation to address this august gathering of pan africanists.

To the Pan Africanist Youth of today

It is now 35 years since the Soweto Youth Uprising hit the land of Azania, the world and ushered in a new phase in the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed masses of Azania. The focus of the uprising as we know was to challenge the racist forces of apartheid and colonialism and to call to a halt the attempt to enslave the mind of the African youth.

Lest we forget, it is important to set the record straight because we are aware that there is a concerted effort to distort the history of our struggle at every opportunity particularly since 1994. So much so an informed mind will think that the Soweto youth uprising was triggered by the brutal death of the young hector Peterson at the hands of the racist police whereas the fact is that youth resistance against Bantu Education and the apartheid state had been simmering long before 1976.

The Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) had been building strength on the campuses of our universities for years since 1967 with a straight confrontation between the black students and the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS). The mergence of SASO and its revolutionary stance on campuses shook the pillars of apartheid and it was clear that there was no going back for the black youths. The black power salute was visible both in the rural and urban areas as black consciousness surfaced with anger and frustration in the 1970’s.

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