White People Survive Yet Another Sarafina

40 years, and one day, ago, students in Soweto decided that enough was enough. They decided that they were rejecting Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at schools in Soweto. That is probably the simplistic view that the students took in describing their actions. What they probably did not realise at the time was that they decided to put their bodies on the line in the continent wide fight against colonialism and cultural imperialism, a decision that would cost most these students their lives at the hands of an oppressive white government.

Since 1976, the June 16 date is used as a commemoration and day of rememberance for those young people who selflessly laid down their lives fighting injustice.

And more recently, every year on this date we religiously wear school uniforms at work and on the streets, post the famous Hector Peterson photo on social media, post inspirational messages and articles, and watch Sarafina.

While we willingly take part in these and other activities, which are more sentiment than action, the descendants of those who murdered the class of 76 still own our land.

While we wear school uniforms, our universities are still institutions that cater for the white and the rich. We still have white people who have the liver to demand that universities like Stellenbosch and University of Pretoria must use Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in lectures.We celebrate the revolutionary actions of the class of 76, yet we still have white schools and black schools, and not South African schools with a decolonised South African curriculum. What are we celebrating when we still have schools like Curro, whose modus operandi is racial segregation? What is this, if not a spit on the graves of those who died during the June 16 1976 uprisings?


While we post inspirational messages and articles, white people are posting our land to their next generation. We are a landless generation celebrating a generation that fought against landlessness.

While we watch Sarafina from our shacks in Ndondo Square, the descendants of our colonisers and oppressors are watching profits and gains from our land work for them and their children.

Every year on June 16 we watch Sarafina, get angry, cry, get angry some more, go to sleep, and wake up in the morning still comfortable in our landlessness; still oblivious to the fact that we own nothing in this, the land of our forefathers, the land of us.

Whilst we are being sentimental, some are taking decisive actions to ensure that we remain with nothing but sentiment.

What we should be doing is harnessing the energy and power of black radical youth and student movements such as #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall to bring about change in South Africa. We are too immersed in party political competitions as if black people, as a nation, are liberated. What are we competing for? 

We must watch Sarafina. But we must also understand that Sarafina must awaken something inside of all the wretched of the Earth. The spirit of revolution must be awakened in each and everyone of us evertime we commemorate June 16 and watch Sarafina.

This means that an episode of Sarafina mist be followed by decisive revolutionary action that is aimed at completely overhauling this system of white supremacy that gives rise to white priviledge. People of European descent cannot be proviledged over and above Africans, in Africa.
If we fail to do that, if we fail to change the status qou, white people will be survivors of yet another Sarafina.

Linda Sidumo is a B Comm graduate, a public   servant, and chairperson of the Education Access Campaign. Views expressed are solely his and do not represent the views of any organisations or group of persons.