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“They Shouted Power”: During the Student Uprising

  • Dawne Y. Curry
Chapter
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Abstract

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

Keywords

Shop Owner Apartheid Regime Bottle Store Ballroom Dancer Coloured Road 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 7.
    Belinda Bozzoli, Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2004).Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Alan Brooks and Jeremy Brickhill, Whirlwind Before the Storm: The Origins and Development of the Uprising in Soweto and the Rest of South Africa from June to December 1976 (Johannesburg: International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa, 1980), 24.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    Philip Bonner and Noor Nieftagodien, AleXandra: A History (Johannesburg: University of Witwatersrand Press, 2008), 205.Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    Mark Mathabane, Kaffir Boy (New York: Free Press, 1986), 264.Google Scholar
  5. 32.
    Maria Shinn, When Alexandra Went Up in Flames in Peter Magubane, Soweto: The Fruit of Fear (Trenton: Africa World Press, 1986), no page numbers given.Google Scholar
  6. 69.
    Helena Pohlandt-McCormick, “I Saw a Nightmare,”: Doing Violence to Memory, June 16, 1976 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 250.Google Scholar
  7. 72.
    James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak (New Haven: Yale University, 1985).Google Scholar
  8. 85.
    See Gavin Lewis, Between the Wire and the Wall: A History of South African Coloured Politics (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987),Google Scholar
  9. Ian Goldin, Making Race: The Politics of Economics and Coloured Identity (London: Longman, 1987),Google Scholar
  10. and Zimitri Erasmus, Coloured by History, Shaped by Place: New Perspectives on Coloured Identities in Cape Town (Cape Town: Kwela, 2001),Google Scholar
  11. Mohammed Adhikari, Not Black Enough, Not White Enough: Racial Identity in the South African Coloured Community (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  12. 93.
    John Carter, Ray: A Memoir of Ray Carter (Cape Town: Pretext, 1997), 39. Oppenheimer explained the rationale for establishing Women for Peace, “women were not bound as men [were] by politics of convention. We’re free to operate.”Google Scholar

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© Dawne Y. Curry 2012

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  • Dawne Y. Curry

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