OPINION / SPEECHES

SOUTH AFRICA: HUMAN RIGHTS DAY EVOKES MEMORIES OF SHARPEVILLE MASSACRE BY HILARY OJUKWU

Date Posted: March 4, 2014

By HILARY OJUKWU

Email: editor@uhuruspirit.org




Since 1994, when South Africa achieved independence from “Colonialism of a Special Type”, the 21st day of March every year has been celebrated as Human Rights Day. Equally, for the same reason as South Africa, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) marks the day as the yearly International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

No doubt, March 21 is a very significant day because it reminds us of the times when the bastardization and dehumanization of the black race by the racist white minority regime was the law in South Africa.

During those bad old days of racist obfuscation, the majority black people of South Africa were made to become foreigners, nay slaves, in their country. Their lands were criminally stolen from them by those who espoused an evil apartheid system that perceived black people as inferior and sub-human beings. They were denied their right to free movement in their country, unless they carried a special permit – the co-called sacrilegious passbook – while travelling. It was in fact criminal for one to move around anywhere in the country without the passbook. The racist apartheid police was empowered to arrest those in breach of this obnoxious apartheid law. As a result, in those days, millions suffered imprisonment and various other sanctions. And indeed, a good number of people were killed in the process.

But there is a saying that “No one can hold down a people against their will forever, as for every action, there is equal but opposite reaction.” The Indian patriot Subhas Chandra Bose once told the world that “The greatest curse for a man is to remain a slave. The greatest crime is to compromise with injustice and wrong.”

Thus, irked by the reprehensible reality of their oppression, on March 21, 1960, over 20,000 freedom-loving black South Africans embarked on a journey to reclaim their humanity. They marched to a local police station in Sharpeville, near Johannesburg, where they gave themselves up to be arrested for not being in possession of the degrading passbooks. But instead of arresting them, the cowardly racist police opened fire on the people. As a result, 69 people were killed, including 8 women and 10 children, and 180 injured, including 31 women and 19 children. Many were shot in the back as they turned to flee. As if that was not enough, the racist colonialists declared state of emergency with over 18,000 people locked up in various apartheid gulags. Further, many of the leading liberation movements like the African National Congree (ANC) and the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), that were in the forefront of the struggle to overthrow the ignobly infamous racist-regime were banned.

The international community was outraged. Millions around the world could not believe that people could be so wickedly massacred for peacefully asking for their human right to free movement inside their country. The apartheid system had finally shown its truest racist colour to the world! As a result, the international spotlight came focused on the apartheid monstrosity. On April 1, 1960, the United Nations passed the resolution 134, calling for an end to the apartheid idiocy. After the banning of the liberation movements, they had no other option than to resort to armed struggle. The ANC launched its military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, while the PAC launched Poqo and the struggle for human freedom and dignity was taken to another level until the dawn of democracy in 1994.

So, let us not forget to use this occasion of the celebration of Human Rights Day to remember the sacrifices of the heroes past. We must honour the spirit of all those who gave their lives during the struggle and see that the things for which they undertook an arduous struggle do not wither away.

Indeed, this is a time for sober reflection.

Let us use this day to renew our vow not to relent in our struggle against new forms of racism – relics of old apartheid racism, xenophobia, Afrophobia and tribalism.

Let those who occupy positions of power become haters of corruption and champions of the common good. We must see to it that what happened in Marikana in 2012 is never again allowed to rear its ugly head. We must forever remain vigilant against the ever-present imperialist manipulators, the neo-colonialists and their agents, who continue to make mincemeat of our new-found freedoms.

South Africa must dedicate its immense resources and wealth to the rejuvenation of Afrika!

Happy Human Rights Day!

God bless Afrika!

- UHURUSPIRIT.org



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