THE cost of Africa’s freedom is measured in blood, sweat, sorrow, pain and tears.

Let us rejoice in Africa’s children who valiantly fought in the struggles for freedom of the continent.

In particular, June 16 (1976) is very outstanding because young South African schoolchildren of Soweto and the rest of South Africa refused to bow down to colonisation by the Dutch.

They would not let themselves be forced to learn in the Afrikaner language, the boer language, the language of the brutal oppressor.

“Our parents are prepared to suffer under the whiteman’s rule; they have been living for years under these rules and have become immune to them, but we strongly refuse to swallow an education that is designed to make us slaves in the country of our birth,” one student wrote to The World newspaper in protest to Bantu education which prescribed that teaching and learning be carried out in the boer language.

The Bantu education was an added layer of oppression. 

“We were sinking deeper and deeper into a quagmire of hardship,” explained a survivor of the June 16 massacres.

For the children to be forced to suddenly abandon learning in Xhosa, or some other African language and, from nowhere, to begin learning all school subjects in Afrikaans was to ignore every consideration of normalcy and to highlight that the only thing that mattered was suppression and oppression of the African.

The African children being taught in the oppressor’s language.

Practically this would bring much hardship to the African learner — to suddenly abandon learning in languages they were accustomed to.

It was an insult to the Africans to learn in the language of the brutal oppressor, the boer. There was no rationale for these sudden changes except to further oppress the Africans, and the school children knew this very well.

The African children felt deeply violated to be required to learn in the language of oppression; it would be celebrating their enslavement. 

The students thus demonstrated peacefully against this insult, and they were most brutally suppressed.

The heavily armed police confronted the peaceful marchers and told them they had three minutes to disperse.

The children responded by singing ‘Nkosi Sikeleli Africa’ at which the police tear gassed them.

A survivor explains that the children were saved from the tear gas by the wind which blew in the direction of the police and away from the children.

The police then fired live ammunition at the children at point blank range — these were no rubber bullets… The police continued to fire at the children as they fell down,  scrambled for cover, injured, crawling away from the lethal assault …The children were not armed, they tried to shield themselves with dust bin covers and stones. How do you open fire with live ammunition, at point bank range at a child who is not armed?

The demonstrations spread throughout South Africa and the same brutality was unleashed on the children throughout the country. Many were killed or injured, but the South African police were unrelenting, their tone making it clear that these children were enemies of the State, not children who simply said no to further entrenchment of their oppression in the country of their birth.

The State declared it would not be intimidated! 

How does a State with such a formidable arsenal get intimidated by unarmed schoolchildren peacefully demonstrating?

How do you claim to be maintaining law and order by killing children, with live ammunition, at point blank, when it is you who sparked a war by firing on unarmed schoolchildren who were peacefully demonstrating?

The South African police did not hide their trigger-happiness; did not regret nor apologise for killing unarmed schoolchildren. Any normal human being would be shocked to the depths of the soul by such brutality on defenceless children.

Those who survived June 16 are still shocked by the police response to their peaceful demonstration.

The police responded as if they were targeting an armed insurrection, not unarmed, peacefully demonstrating schoolchildren.

A survivor reflecting on the events of June 16 highlighted that “…had white South Africans recognised that we were fellow human beings like them despite difference in skin colour that catastrophe would have been avoided; had they recognised that we sought dialogue and so did our parents, so many lives would not have been lost, so much suffering would have been avoided. It was not necessary because no-one was belligerent except the illegal State of South Africa”.

Thousands were detained without trial, and they were tortured in horrific ways while they were in detention; part of the torture included jumping on needles.

“The least they could have done was to whip us not shoot us. Those fathers who were shooting, were really killing, they were out to kill.”

The trauma still haunts the survivors.

They paid in blood, and in tears. 

These human rights you talk of, we never violated human rights, but you broke human rights, you came and killed us for what is ours.

The children were not cowed; they were not intimidated by the ruthlessness and inhumanity of the police; they rebelled against it and fought back.

They did not hide in their mother’s kitchens; they confronted the enemy with the mettle of freedom fighters, and the Boers got the message that it is not correct to claim what is not yours, you will never be at peace.

Thousands of these children left the country into the neighbouring countries, from where they joined the liberation struggle, or pursued further education in the neighbouring countries and further afield.

When a regime murders children without compunction, armed confrontation is the only measure of what is correct to end this diabolic tyranny.

It is a heavy price they paid for the freedom of their land, South Africa, and for all of us on the African continent.

Thus, when we do not teach our children how expensive the freedom they enjoy is, we do them a grave injustice; we endanger them and us, leaving us both open to recolonization in its various forms.

Africa declared the ‘Youth Day’ in honour not only of the children of Soweto and South Africa but of all African children who fought in the freedom struggles and all those who will continue to spearhead the defence of the continent on all fronts; all those who will recognise that they are the custodians of all that the continent is endowed with, the richest continent on the planet in terms of minerals.

In Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, as in the South African one, schoolchildren rejected brutality of the British imperialists; they fought back against the constant harassment and torture by the Rhodesian terrorists —they joined the armed struggle.

They abandoned home and all its comforts; they were freedom fighters at heart and they could not have it otherwise.

The enemy recognised the resolve of these youngsters to end the armed occupation of their land and pursued them relentlessly, murdering thousands at Nyadzonia, Chimoio, Pasichigare, Mkushi and Freedom camps, among others.

The indomitable will and mettle of these unarmed children at the rear in Mozambique and Zambia struck fear in the armed robbers and they reacted by unleashing the worst inhumanity imaginable, wiping out children with napalm and other internationally banned weapons.

At Chimoio, the children were in tented bases to distinguish them from the military. The Rhodesians only took advantage of this to identify the most vulnerable, and did their worst.

Children were wiped out at parade while, several hours later, the survivors were killed each with a pistol bullet to the head.

We are dealing with occupation forces who came to loot Africa’s resources and kill everything in their path, anything that contested their greed and lust for the wealth of the Africans.

The scenario has not changed though we have attained independence, liberation through the barrel of the gun.

The international corporations that formed their occupation States in the form of colonisation are still ‘vampidly’ greedy for Africa’s untold wealth, they are unrelenting. They want it all. They want to mine your oil, take away 90 percent of the profits and leave Africans with a paltry 10 percent.

This war is still raging, it is an inferno. That is the war at hand, and if our children are not properly educated as to why their predecessors were so brutally massacred, it is a criminal offence because we are refusing to tell them the hyenas are still on the prowl.

Many a coup in Africa is sponsored by Western powers to install their puppets to loot African resources.

They install type of ‘yes baas’ Africans who will let the foreign powers come in, mine the resources, make massive profits and give the owners of the resources, the Africans, a mere pittance, costing Africans to live on small change and condemning them to eternal poverty when they are the most richly endowed citizens of planet earth.

We must protect our children with the truth for only then can they defend Africa from colonial bondage.

Marikana (August 2012) was not a fluke; those miners, those workers know the land is theirs, the minerals are theirs, the gold is theirs, they cannot eternally dig out their gold so that the foreigner can take it and sell it for billions and billions while they live in tin shacks, with hardly anything to cover basic needs.

This is criminal and they know that so they can never be at peace, and no-one will ever be at peace; the land will not be at peace; the blood shed for freedom will never be at peace;  and so they were brutally murdered, by the police … June 16 is never over. As long as the wealth of Africans is in the hands of foreigners, there never will be peace.

It is divinely ordained; what is yours is yours, you defend it with everything you are and you have.

Let us teach our children well.


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