Soweto uprising 40 years on: Young people at forefront of political struggle

16 June 2016 - 10:45am
Press release

On the 16 June 1976, some 10,000 students protested against a directive from the apartheid government that made Afrikaans the medium of instruction in secondary schools in South Africa.

The students were met with state brutality that saw hundreds  of young people killed and many more injured. Today, 40 years on, South Africans are remembering the role that young people played in the fight against apartheid. 

Saranel Benjamin, International Programmes Director at War on Want, said:

"Young people in South Africa are at the forefront of political struggle once again, just as they were 40 years ago. Their role today is critical in safeguarding South Africa’s democracy.

"We have seen them lead communities against evictions, water and electricity cut-offs through social movements like Abahlali base Mjondolo, Housing Assembly and Ubunye Bama Hostela. They have been at the forefront of a movement calling for the decolonisation of university spaces and for education to be made accessible to those who have been disadvantaged through the Bantu Education system.

"However, their protests are still criminalised through state sanctioned violence and police brutality. Today, as South Africans remember the Soweto Uprisings, War on Want pays tribute to all the young people, past and present, who have been courageous in their struggle against apartheid and for democracy."

The Bantu Education Act 1953 (later renamed the Black Education Act, 1953) was a South African segregation law which legalised a number of aspects of the apartheid system.


Notes to editors

For further information or interviews, contact RossHemingway on +44 7983 550728 

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