Remembering the Sharpeville Massacre and Langa March

By Siyabulela Ncetani

The youth have always held a crucial role during the struggle for freedom in South Africa, and it would be a vanity to quote history without reconciling its relevance in history. 

Annually, on the 21st of March, Human Rights Day is celebrated – a day that commemorates the horrendous 1960s Sharpeville Massacre that claimed sixty-nine lives and left 180 wounded. The day is historically linked to the injustices of the past, imposed by the Apartheid government on people of colour. These injustices were measured by the form of the Dom Pass law (1952). This law forced every South African of colour over the age of 16 to carry a passport-like document wherever they went. 

Despite this, the remembrance is often isolated to one event, leaving out the Langa March that was a continuation of what happened in Sharpeville. One may ask why this needs to be mentioned or revisited. 

A then 23-year-old Phillip Kgosana – University of Cape Town/Pan Africanist Congress student leader, lead a march. The protest action had about 30 000 to 50 000 protestors offering themselves up for arrest by not carrying a Dom Pass. 

This march being led by a young person holds so much significance today and prompts the need for the continuation of discourse and action as it aims at locating the youth at the centre of any struggle and introduces a narrative that destroys waiting rooms for young leaders and bringing in the consciousness that as a youth, you must occupy and effectively lead on any and every platform. This should remain until the popular and incorrect narrative about youth is erased politically, socially and in corporate lifestyles. 

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