Can society decide who you are?

Bantu Education Act 1953

This week’s assignment was to watch the third part of Have You Heard from Johannesburg?

I learned that the black children grew up thinking that there was something wrong with their race. The children learned at an early age how the white people rule South Africa, and how black people were only in existence to serve them. The previous Prime Minister of South Africa, Hendrik Verwoerd, thought that black children should “be educated in a way that was appropriate for their culture”. Therefore black children were to be educated to learn how to work for the white people, which was called the Bantu educational system.

The Bantu Education Act was passed in 1953 and the South African government basically developed the black children into slaves, and I think partly the purpose with this was to make sure the children learned at an early age how slavery and minimal wages is what they should spend their lives doing.

The older generation of the black people in South Africa had seen what had happened to people who had tried to make a difference in their society. For example Nelson Mandela, who fought against apartheid and was sent to life in prison because of that. Therefore most people were afraid to even try to do anything; they knew they would just be punished for it.

Steve Biko

But there were still people who dared to challenge and change the system, such as Steve Biko. Biko was an anti apartheid activist. He fought for black consciousness and tried to constantly inspire other people to fight against apartheid. He made people understand that they cannot allow themselves to let the apartheid government rule their lives. Biko inspired people to stand up, and fight for themselves.

Biko, who was a medical student during this time, led the Black Consciousness Movement, which was an anti apartheid movement. The movement made people understand that they had more strength than they believed they had, and the strength spread around in South Africa.

Young people in South Africa were inspired by Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement. Angola and Zimbabwe gaining their independence around the same time were also a cause for inspiration.

So when it got to that point when the South African government wanted the black children to be taught Afrikaans in most classes, the students were against it. Afrikaans was spoken by the Dutch settlers and many believed they introduced the language in the black schools to slow down their education.That was when thousands of students got together to protest against it on June 16th 1976.

Hector pieterson

The students were not violent, but when the police showed up everything changed. The police started shooting, causing many children to die that day. One of the victims was the primary student Hector Pieterson. The picture to the right is a picture of Hector after getting shot, being carried by an older child while his sister is running next to them. The children had not planned all this to happen, they just wanted to have the same rights as everyone else. The Soweto Uprising let people around the world know what was going on.

I admire the revolutionary people in Holland; where people were in uproar against South Africa’s policies. And I especially thought the comparison between the World War II and South Africa situation was interesting. I think the main difference between the two is how the government in South Africa hid it well, while in World War II they did not have slavery but brutally killed the other race at once. I think Holland and the protesters had a big impact on South Africa; they were able to support and spread the word about South Africa’s unfair reality.


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