Blacks owe their freedom today to the class of '76
IN THE history of the national liberation struggle, nothing defiantly stands out as a point of no return like June 16 1976.
Without ascribing insignificance to other brave dates, this is one where black people braved to ask the Creator, Senzeni Na? What have we done, was the question.
That they were rendered minions in the land of their birth was clearly not within a divine plan.
For their redemption, blacks were not going to wait for the second coming of Jesus either. Their hour, to embark on their march to freedom, had come. The responsibility pointed to the Class of 1976 to lead with purposeful urgency.
The imposition of Afrikaans as a medium for educational instruction was not all that there was to the fight.
The lyrics and tune of that tear-jerking song, Mabayeke umhlaba Wethu, shows that the matters about which the students were fired up had gone beyond the language issue.
In that song, you encountered black people who embodied to the brim the richness of soul worth fighting for.
The peacefulness, seriousness and dignity accorded that song, typified a people who knew that in order to fight for their land, they had to love and respect themselves first.
At the heart of it all was the land question, without forgetting the minerals buried in its bosom.
You would be mistaken to think the June 16 movement did not bother about air in our skies nor the waters of our seas.
No wonder those students did not see and think of themselves as "the youth" with a copyright for chaos.
The Class of 1976 saw itself as part and parcel of the community whose struggle it embraced as its own to champion. That struggle was political in character, economic in substance and anti-colonial in nature. The clenched black power salutes that the June 16 movement raised symbolised determined solidarity to overcome.
If faith and religion had anything to do with it, the brave young hearts at the helm took the struggle from the classroom to the streets, touched by the hand of the Almighty to reclaim their humanity in defiance of bullets, deaths in detentions and disappearance into unmarked graves to conceal apartheid-era killing fields.
Beyond June 16, every trick in the book of the oppressor was rendered obsolete.
The fruits of freedom enjoyed today would not have been reachable to gather had those students not shaken the tree.
June 16 1976 was not just an action against a part of a system (of education) but the total regime of black subjugation.
On that day black people bravely looked into the eyes of the beast and did not allow their fate to waste in its dying claws.
Did Steve Biko not tell us that the most important weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed? On that day the oppressed rose to reclaim their mind. The pitiful shadow of their selves that blacks are today again asking: Senzeni Na?