“Human Right’s Day” – what a travesty. How can the current regime who claim that we are free aim to erase and whitewash such a historic event? It may have something to do with the fact that they themselves had nothing to do with this event.
In 2017, South Africa now refers to the day of the Sharpeville Massacre as Human Right’s day. This day on the 21st of March 1960 when women and men who were Pan Africanist Congress members were to hand themselves over to the local police stations as a strategic move to protest having to carry a pass. This was to overrun the jail systems and ultimately retract issuing of passes for Afrikans. On this day Mangaliso Sobukwe and other members were to engage on this same journey in Soweto but the day would turn out substantially different for the marchers of Sharpeville. Once a large crowd had assembled at the Sharpeville police station peacefully handing themselves over for arrest, the police began to shoot into the crowd intentionally without provocation to disperse this crowd. The crowd’s size was the reason given by the police for the attack and that the crowd was out of control and a danger to themselves. More than 200 hundred peaceful marchers were shot that day. Many of which were shot in the back to show that shooting from the police officers continued even when the victims were in flight.
Changing the name of such a significant day in our history can have very grave repercussions. The erasure of this holiday will lead people to disregard the real importance of this day and observe it merely as a holiday/day off from work. The reason this is being done is because the leaders of the ruling party, the ANC know that they played no part in this historic event for the people of Azania which will lead many people to ask questions they are not equipped to answer. The PAC and its leaders disagreed unequivocally with the stance the ANC took when adopting the Freedom Charter, hence they could not have collaborated in this effort. This continues to work hand-in-hand with their erasure of Sobukwe from the apartheid struggle narrative because it will shine a light on the inadequacies of the ruling party and the role they played in the struggle and further diverting the people from the knowledge of solid ideological leaders who believed in the vision of Afrika for Afrikans.
The distraction of people from the importance of this day was also illustrated when the ruling party decided to commemorate a Black Consciousness leader, Bantu Biko, in his hometown on this exact date. Notwithstanding all the great work Biko has done for the people of Azania, he was not a part of the protests as a general member or even a leader. Sinister attempts like these by the ruling party on make it clearer to those who know the truth that this is a memory that they wish to banish and suppress in the darkest corners of history.
400 hundred people were shot that day. Many of them sustained injuries of varying severity but 34 Afrikans from Sharpeville lost their lives that day. It is important that we never forget the people who sacrificed their lives for freedom and showed the way to future generations to always show bravery but it will not always turn out in glorious victory. This problem will not deter us from continuing the struggle for freedom by seeking inspiration from past tragedies like the Sharpeville massacre. The fallen sisters and brothers will never be forgotten.
Nfr Sa Ma’at