June 16th, past memory in the history of education

Mr.Derrick Masangu , Independent blogger and teacher

Please allow me to share, this 4th grade Social Studies topic, but which I think is one of the pivotal events that shaped and laid a foundation for both South Africa and Namibian political struggle, post 1976.

To many Namibians, June 16th , 46 years ago has no significance as it doesn’t echo any bells, neither does it evoke any emotions, but to some Africans it’s a nightmare!

Equally a few who know about it also limit it to South African history, as the events that led up to it, being formerly recognized by the AU in 1991, took place in that country!

Firstly, in order to understand its significance and relevance to our nation and Africa as a whole, we need to first know and understand what happened on that fateful day.

June 16th. 1976 was a dark day in the history of South Africa and indeed Africa as a whole. This is what become known as the Soweto uprising. On this day, a group of fearless youth particularly students from different schools in Soweto organized themselves and formed a strong coalition to fight back at the biased educational system that was imposed on them by the apartheid regime.

This was because, the regime had tried to impose Afrikaans language as a mandatory medium of instruction for all schools in the country, regardless of their homelands, as at Bantu educational system was used, which segregated people based on their languages and geographical area. This meant, enough was enough, and racial tensions had just reached boiling point.

The students matched for peaceful demonstration in Soweto, but unfortunately it ended up in cold blood bath, after the heartless apartheid police force opened fire on them!

The Soweto uprising’s relevance to our Namibian struggle is that, most of these policies were not just limited to South Africa, but also imposed in then South West Africa, which later became independent Namibia. What ever was decided on national level in South Africa, had a spiral effect on us, as we were regarded as a mandatory state, under it.

In addition, the Soweto uprisings became a pivotal event and one of the foundations of radical youth organizations and activism that incepted the struggle both in South Africa and Namibia. Not just on education but also in politics, and labour protests that followed at the time. This is what gave birth to the International day of the African Child as we have become to know it today.

Though, we are free today, and don’t have to toyi toyi, burn tyres and necklaces or run from the canine units of the apartheid police, let us not be naive and oblivious to the realities of our time. Indeed times have changed, and so is the world too! The struggles of 1976 are not the same as those of today, but narratives remain the same, freedom, justice and equality in all the spheres of our lives.

In hind sight, the youth of 1976 have done their part to ensure that equality exists in our societies today. They taught us courage, fortitude and resilience. They also taught us that the fight for the right cause will always be victorious despite all the hardships and barricades along the way.

It is therefore, time for us to grab the button and carry own the economic struggle of our people. Tsitsi Mashinini, Hector Peterson and many more others did not just die in vein, but they died for a bigger cause, which were freedom, justice and equality.

It is really important for us, to teach our children about this important event in African history. Therefore, as parents, teachers, religious leaders and all community leaders, we have a responsibility to devote the same amount of time that we normally give to other National events such as Heroes Day and so forth.

In closing, we need to find ways to make sure the massage and impotence of this day reaches each and every African child.

Happy International Day of the African Child in Namibia ✊✊✊








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