On 16 June 1976, Soweto erupted. School pupils, protesting against apartheid education and language policies, came under police fire. The brutal images went global, precipitating an international outcry. Ahead of Youth Day on 16 June, Helen Swingler, a writer in the newsroom and publications unit, asked four members of the UCT community to reflect on that day and how it shaped the underlying issues of language, education and political activism among the youth.
South African History Online gives an overview of the Soweto uprising and its repercussions. Read more.
Dr Tessa Dowling from the Department of African Languages and Literatures reflects on 1976 and its implications for the languages we speak and regard today – and what we should be doing now to encourage multilingualism. Read more.
Dr Salma Ismail, senior lecturer in the School of Education, was a student at UCT in 1976. She remembers campus at the time as a place of heated debate, political activity and a lot of critical reading. She looks at the liberation struggle then and compares and contrasts it to this generation's struggles. Read more.
Peter Buckton, a senior sports administrator in Student Sports and Recreation – who was working at UCT in June 1976 – reflects on how the campus and its surrounding communities have changed in 39 years. Read more.
Karl Buckton, an MPhil graduate in environmental science – and Peter Buckton's son – grew up in the education system that emerged out of South Africa's transitional moment in the 1990s. He comments on the youth of today and the educational opportunities currently available. Read more.
Startling images of Cape Town in 1976 and 1977, housed in UCT's Visual Archive in Special Collections and originally published by Independent Newspapers. Read more.
Curated by Helen Swingler
UPDATE: UCT's Murray Leibbrandt and Pippa Green reflect in The Daily Maverick (23 June 2015) on the youthful struggle of 1976 and how real its dreams to create a new country with new prospects for the generations ahead has turned out to be, 21 years on. Read more.
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