On the morning of 16 June 1976, police opened fire on young Soweto students protesting against the apartheid government’s inferior “Bantu” education. Twelve-year-old Hector Pieterson fell to the ground, hit by a bullet. He died soon after.
And so began the June 1976 students’ uprising, as young people took whatever weapons they could find to fight the apartheid authorities.
The uprising quickly spread from Soweto across the country.
International solidarity movements were roused as an immediate consequence of the revolt. They soon gave their support to the youngsters, putting pressure on the apartheid government to stop its repressive rule.
At the same time, young South Africans poured out of the country to join liberation armies in exile – adding to the pressure against the regime.
This pressure continued throughout the 1980s, until resistance movements were finally unbanned and leaders released from prison in 1990.
It took a single day for young South Africans to change the course of the country’s history, setting us on the path to democracy.
Today, 16 June is a public holiday, Youth Day, which celebrates the brave young people who fought for our freedom.
Information supplied by www.sahistory.org.za