Youth Day 2020 – Black Lives Matter
Ahead of the particularly relevant public holiday on 16 June, old boy Jonathan Green (class of 2015) and current Head Boy, Umtha-Unathi “Oupa” Mavuso addressed our Matric Learners.
The public holiday holds many emotions for our country and community, which has especially been highlighted in recent events and with the current #BlackLivesMatter campaign consuming social media platforms.
Our Headmaster, Mr Lovatt, echoed the messages from Jonathan and Oupa (see below) and as a School our learners and staff arrived in solidarity wearing black this morning.
Written by Jonathan Green
“June 16, 1976 marked a political re-awakening of the struggle against the apartheid regime. This occurred after a largely acquiescent period as a result of the crushing of the armed resistance and the banning of the ANC and PAC after the Sharpeville massacre. June 16 highlighted the emergence of a new social force which was ready to resist the oppression of the apartheid regime. On the cold winter morning students from schools in Soweto such as Morris Isaacson and Naledi high school voiced their dissatisfaction at not only Afrikaans being used as a medium of instruction for subjects such as Mathematics and Science but at the poor conditions that they were meant to learn under. The students peacefully protested against a system which had oppressed their parents. These students became a vital force of black resistance from the late 1970s and their sacrifices should never be forgotten. The heartbreaking stories about the deaths of children such as Hector Pietersen and Hastings Ndlovu highlight the inhumanity of the apartheid regime that these young students were opposing. These students displayed a level of courage and determination which will always be remembered. These deaths will forever be recognised as the ultimate price that was paid so that we today can enjoy a greater level of freedom. I say a greater level of freedom because our society still remains greatly constrained as a result of the decades of inequality and racial discrimination which sadly still occurs today.
We have however come very far as a results of the sacrifices made by those who fought and died on June 16, 1976. As a an old boy, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend such an excellent institution such as King Edward VII School, I recognise the great privilege that was afforded to me. Similarly as students, you are in a position of great privilege at the moment by being able to attend a school that is so well resourced. We attend a school which is diverse and prides itself on its brotherhood. Gentlemen from all different cultural, social, religious backgrounds and economic backgrounds come together in this great place. This would not have been possible without the great sacrifices made by those who fought hard and died for this to happen. It is therefore our responsibility to first recognise and appreciate the privileges we have at this institution while being mindful of those who laid down their lives for us to enjoy this freedom.
Secondly, it is also important to use this privilege to find ways to better the lives of others and try to tackle the great inequalities we still see in our societies today such as students who still learn in mud schools without any resources. By doing this we continue the journey to creating a more equal and just society for all of us. I believe that charity begins at home and we need to look at how we can transform our own country by being committed to social justice for everyone. We can draw inspiration from movements around the world such as the Black Lives Matter movement which aims to highlight the discrimination and killing of black people in the United States to effect change in our own areas to better the lives of all who live in it. This movement does not aim to diminish the struggles of other groups but simply aims to highlight the extreme injustices and brutality that black people are facing in the United States at the hands of the police force. In our own country, we have seen a similar level of inhumanity as seen in the killing of Collins Khosa by the SANDF which blemish the democracy that thousands of South Africans died to achieve.
These movements which come out of these atrocities should allow us to reflect on progress in our own country and around the world but furthermore it shows us how far we need to still go to achieve the full equality that the youth of June 1976 fought for here in South Africa. Despite these horrendous events we can continue to draw courage from the resilience of the students on the streets of Soweto and around the country in June 1976. We should aim to build on the progress that their struggles have achieved and not break down the things they fought so dearly to achieve. I would therefore encourage you gentlemen that while we still have a long way to go in addressing the injustices of the past that you use your individual power to effect change and value to education that students such as Hector Pietersen and Hastings Ndlovu died for.”
Black Lives Matter, Written by Oupa
“As I tried to express what Black Lives Matter means to me I struggled a little while because there are many things that I wanted to say but if I was to say them all then we’d be here till finals start. So I decided to start off by pointing out something that is very obvious…. I’m black, whilst I will be a King Edward’s gentleman for the rest of my life, I was born black and I’m proud to be able to say that to you all here today …I am proud because the fact that I’m standing here today means that my ancestors our ancestors never gave up they died so that we people of colour and white people alike could all live freely in a country of equality. A land free of oppression and hatred fueled by nothing more than the difference in one’s skin. Black people are taught from childhood that everything good is white they tell us black is darkness and white is light, black is a stain and purity is white. They always told us we could lie but only the ‘white’ kind.
But our forefathers refused to let these colours stain their minds for the truth is lack…and… white I know, a lot of people are tired of hearing ‘black lives matter’ but ‘something is seriously wrong with you if the…PAIN, …SORROW and OUTRAGE of a people makes you more uncomfortable than murder itself’ Black people, coloured people, indian people basically everyone who was non-white was slaughtered and enslaved for no reason except cause of the colour of their skin for over.
People think oh no #AllLivesMatter too that is true but that’s not how it’s ever been throughout history #AllLives have never always mattered some people have never thought about the many years of oppression that black people have faced? Do they know of the hardship? The death? The humiliation? The blatant disregard for the Livelihood of…black…people? Have they ever had to listen to their parents tell them how poor they were, I’m not talking about not being able to afford wants, I’m talking about not being able to afford school, food, clothes, electricity or how they got great marks and got scholarships to University how they sent that scholarship money back home they and never saw a cent of it. Have you ever had to listen to your parents tell you about how they walked 25 Km to school and back home? Have you ever had your parents tell you that if they didn’t study and work hard and go to university and get a decent job their family would remain in abject poverty and that everything depended on them? How our parents were the first to bare the true fruits of the seeds planted by Nelson Mandela, Steven Bantu Biko, Desmond Tutu and many more black freedom fighters.
Today we were all asked to wear black, but some people haven’t…because of a number of reasons but to the people that decided to know wear black today because they are in support of #AllLivesMatter and that is a protest to our protest and I want you to think about how right now in our society how every life holds meaning except those of black people and how we were black on the surface of our skin everyday of our live then ask yourself truly if #AllLives Really do matter.”