June 16: Repression and Resurgence

On June 16 South Africa commemorated the student uprisings of 1976. 2018 marked 42 years since students in Soweto rose up against apartheid and thus set in motion the resurgence of the struggles of the oppressed that led to the first democratic elections in 1994. 1976 broke a long dark period repression that began with the banning of black political organisations in 1960. Since 1994, June 16 (declared Youth Day) has been an opportunity for the new ruling elite to justify its right to rule, and in many cases what it perceives as its right to self-enrichment. On this day, lip-service is paid to the importance of addressing the plight of young people in South Africa today; the heroism of youth is celebrated while the conditions of their lives continue to deteriorate.

In the course of all these celebrations, not a moment is spared to develop an understanding of the social and historical forces that produced the Class of 1976. If the present generation of youth are to live up to the heroism of the Class of 1976, courage will not be enough. It is necessary for the youth to understand the historical and social conditions that produce a heroic generation. In 2016, on the 40th anniversary of the June 16 uprising, Khanya College journal produced a special edition to commemorate 4 decades of the uprising. On the occasion of the 42 anniversary Karibu republishes key articles from that edition, and in our In Depth Perspectives we make available the entire edition https://karibu.org.za/wp-content/uploads/khanya-College-Journal-No-35-Web-min-min-3.pdf

4 key articles from that edition are posted in Karibu-Online. These are:

  1. The Road to Soweto June 1976: The political economy, the students and the workers https://karibu.org.za/the-road-to-soweto-june-1976-repression-and-resurgence/
  2. Soweto Uprising and its Immediate Causes https://karibu.org.za/june-1976-the-uprising/
  1. From the Defeat of Apartheid to #FeesMustFall https://karibu.org.za/a-new-terrain-of-struggle-education-struggles-post-apartheid/

The debate on June 16 and its place in the struggle for freedom needs to be discussed beyond the commemorative speeches that are repeated every June 16. As the working class movement regroups, and as new forces for change are being created, it’s the right time to delve into this debate and discussion as a preparation for the struggles that are before us.

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