South Africa – It is undoubtedly the Soweto Uprising in June 1976, which became the dramatic turning point for freedom of the South African government of that time.
The external struggle fought outside of South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe (formally Rhodesia) and South West Africa, now Namibia at that time did not affect severely on the internal condition of South Africa as the Soweto Uprising had done.
The bloodied and chilling events of June 16, 1976 heightened the separation between the internal and external conflicts of South Africa. It was during this time the South African Government experienced increased pressure from international countries to transform the apartheid system.
White South Africans condemned this action and marches by students were organized through the city of Johannesburg, to protest the killing of children. The anger and strife among the citizens began to escalate across the country, black workers went on strike, and riots in black townships escalated. Student forums began directing the anger of the black students toward the apartheid government.
International condemnation of these acts caused the country to be viewed negatively around the world. The internal chaos triggered the currency devaluation and plunged the government into a crisis. Drastic measures to remedy this misery and economic instability became a curse for the government. The black resistance grew, and the government could not restore peace and social stability of the early 1970’s.
The consequences of that bloodied day led the African National Congress (ANC), a banned militant group to become the organization to overthrow the government of apartheid. They created an ambiance that gave the students the incentive to strike out. The ANC’s non-racial policy dominated the liberation among blacks. The ANC now leading the freedom redemption knew the apartheid regime had only a choice of more repression or a revolution.
The ANC moving forward and continued their fight for freedom printed and distributed leaflets with the slogan “Free Mandela, Hang Voster”. The ANC established a leading role for the fight of democracy. The ANC made requests for the world to take action and impose sanctions against the apartheid regime.
The drastic rise of political instability to the apartheid system and the strengthening international boycott since the uprising in Soweto became a reality for the government, when their attempts to rectify the injustices backfired. The declaration of proclaiming the Transkei an independent country as a proposal of commitment to the international community failed. This action was referred to as a ‘puppet state’ by international countries.
The past 1970’s and early 1980’s claimed the lives of many innocent victims across the country. Both the South African Government and the terrorist group the ANC used horrific way to assert the basis of their fight for freedom.
We tend to forget the innocent people who died and severely wounded ones, from the actions of both regimes fighting for control. The ANC took responsibility for several bomb blasts around the country during this time where both white and black people lost their lives. We remember the students but are inclined to forget the others who died just as violently as they did.
After his release from prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela said he acknowledged the debt owed by all black South Africans to students who lost their lives on June 16, 1976. Yet no reference uttered of the white, colored or Indian people who lost their lives during this dramatic turning point for freedom of South Africa.
Written by Laura Oneale