The 41-Year Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising

Story Transcript

Eddie Conway: Welcome to The Real News. I’m Eddie Conway coming to you from Baltimore.

Forty-one years ago, in 1976 on June the 16th, somewhere between 10 and 20 thousand high school students decided to rebel against the repression of South Africa’s apartheid regime. As a result of that rebellion, somewhere between 7 and 8 hundred students were killed and thousands were wounded. It was the beginning of what eventually led to South African liberation and Nelson Mandela becoming the president.

The South African police used pistols, shotguns, rifles and automatic weapons, as well as armored personnel vehicles against the student movement; too, include tear gas. And initially they blockaded 3,000 students, and at some point they released a dog, a police dog, on the students and the students killed the police dog.

And they then opened fire on the student group. Initially they killed 23 students. But as the riots spread – because it became a riot after the massacre of the 23 students – as the riots spread from townships and in other areas, the government finally reported that it was maybe 179 people killed. But people in South Africa, upon their investigation and calculation, thinks it was somewhere between 700 and 800 students were actually murdered, and several thousand students were shot but end up living.

Well, the contradictions that exist in the free Africa today – South Africa, that is – is that although they won the ability to control the political system, they did not win the ability to control the economics and the means of production, and so poverty is still widespread and rampant. Some people made gains; a very small minority of people, a lot of them connected with the ANC. But the majority of the population that fought and suffered the consequences of that fight are still suffering the consequences of being in poverty and not having their lot improved. So I think the revolution in South Africa is still an unfinished operation.

All right, thank you for joining me at The Real News.