This picture of a dying Hector Pieterson has become a famous icon of the June 16 1976 uprising that began in Soweto and spread countrywide, profoundly changing the socio-political landscape in South Africa.
The picture is uncomfortable to some, very sad to most and perhaps makes others angry.
Let’s consider our own response to this picture and all it represents. My despairing thoughts are about how 41 years later the education system is still failing so many people, and that still today protest is viewed by many as the only way they can be heard.
But then, let’s not dwell on the despairing thoughts. This week the country remembers, and in doing so I hope that we can learn and be humble. To pause awhile from our angry, fearful existing and consider our community and our youth.
When I look beyond the ranting on social media it is clear to me that bridges are still being built, that people are reaching out to each other and that our young people have a lot they can teach us.
Let’s listen to the youth instead of insisting on passing on our prejudices to them. (Yes, I am talking to myself as well!)
Let’s think about what we can do “small and nearby” to build a strong community through bridges and not barriers.
Let’s recognise the humanity of each other and see in ourselves how our personal history helps shape us and, in so doing, understand the history of others and the continued impact of this in their lives.
If anyone wants to be reminded, this link can take you to a longish, but worthwhile read:
I wish peace to the young people of the Slowveld.