IN QUOTES | Fikile Mbalula's Youth Day lecture - 'the 1976 uprising was driven by a vision of an equal SA'

15 June 2020 - 10:22 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Fikile Mbalula delivered a virtual Youth Day lecture on Sunday, two days before the 1976 uprising is to be commemorated on June 16.
Fikile Mbalula delivered a virtual Youth Day lecture on Sunday, two days before the 1976 uprising is to be commemorated on June 16.
Image: The Times/Esa Alexander

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula on Sunday delivered a virtual Youth Day lecture on Sunday, ahead of the 44th anniversary commemoration of the 1976 Soweto youth uprising on Tuesday June 16.

Here are six quotes from his address: 

Youth under apartheid rule

“Being young and black during apartheid meant experiencing exclusion from economic opportunities, poor access to education, poor and segregated public transport, forced removals to townships and daily discrimination.”

ANC Youth League 

“The youth league was formed in 1944. Anton Lembede, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo [among others] were active in the ANC and helped form the youth league. In 1948, the National Party came to power and formalised apartheid, ensuring that black people had no economic or political power.”

Connection between US and SA

“There has always been a connection between the fight against apartheid and the US. The 'black caucus' in the US played a critical role in the anti-apartheid movement. We know of Jessie Jackson, but there are many other leaders in the US who rose to the occasion, in terms of the fight against apartheid.”

Language of oppression

“Towards the end of 1975, the government issued an instruction to the department of basic education to teach half of all subjects in standard 5, now grade 7, in Afrikaans. Parents and students opposed this. Black students already had to learn both their mother tongue and English. Afrikaans was seen as the language of oppression and was the third or fourth language for many black students.”

The uprising 

“The uprising was secretly organised, it was not an accident, it was planned to oppose the draconian laws and inferior Bantu education [imposed] on our people. In June, various schools joined forces in various demonstrations that culminated in the June 16 uprising. The first uprising started in Soweto, but the uprising spread all over the country and lasted for months.”

1976 vision

“1976 was driven by the vision of an equal SA, courageous and determined to achieve the free and democratic SA. The movement believed in a free, democratic and non-racial and non-sexist society. Women pushed the male-dominated leadership to start discussing the oppression of women.”


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