“They Shouted Power”: During the Student Uprising

  • Dawne Y. Curry


On June 18, 1976, two days after Sowetans opposed the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction for all classes, Alexandra erupted and joined in solidarity. Around 8 A. M., Alexandrans began attacking Indian owned shops and the WRAB offices. When the upheaval gained momentum two hours later at 10 A. M., marchers had enlarged their following. At least 150 participants, situated between the intersection of Selbourne and Second Avenue, stormed the streets. With their hippos and casspirs, and tear gas canisters and assault rifles, the police made an impressive stand, but not an impregnable one as they faced a crowd armed with bricks, stones, and dustbin lids.1 The police sounded the loudhailers, and when this proved futile, they met the throng with brute force. Four people died. Six people were wounded. Ten faced arrest.2 By four o’clock that day, eight skirmishes had taken place and more onlookers and protesters had flooded the streets. Whenever people saw each other, they clenched their fists and shouted “power” and demanded that it be repeated. Bottle shop Supervisor Mr. T. Maboela recalls:

… Whenever they said “power” they uplifted their hands and said “power,” and I remember some of their cars when they got in to Alexandra, they were stopped and had to put their hands through the window and say “power” and then they will let him pass. And there was one stubborn man who, when they stopped him to say “power,” he would not and his car was stoned.3


Shop Owner Apartheid Regime Bottle Store Ballroom Dancer Coloured Road 
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© Dawne Y. Curry 2012

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  • Dawne Y. Curry

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