Black Wednesday reminder of lost community activism


This October 19, tomorrow, will mark the 44th anniversary of what became known as "Black Wednesday".

This day in 1977 was deeply sad for the Black Consciousness Movement and the media as The World and Sunday World newspapers were banned, together with 19 Black Consciousness-aligned organisations.

The World was at the forefront  of exposing the atrocities blacks suffered under the minority white regime. Just a month prior to its banning, this newspaper had covered fully the ruesome murder in detention of Steve Biko, BCM leader. The horrid act by the apartheid regime's security forces was a media exposure that caught the attention of the world and sparked heightened concerns over the oppressed masses in SA.

Some countries even withdrew relationships with the apartheid state and called back ambassadors. Surely the voice that exposed the atrocities of the apartheid regime had to be silenced. The editor and some of his staff members were detained and spent periods of six months to a year or more in prison.

More than 70 blacks were put into custody under the notorious Internal Security Act. The 19 organisations that were banned comprised student and youth organisations, community-based organisations, writers' forums and other like-minded groups whose mission was to educate people about the Black Consciousness philosophy as an invaluable tool to overcome mental slavery.

Fast forward to 2021, Sowetan is at the forefront of its predecessor (The World) in exposing corruption in the so-called democratic government. Sadly there is a decline of interest in reading newspapers, and community-based organisations as they existed  in the '70s are no more.

Issues such as crime, foreign nationals, unemployment would have been tackled by such forums, now it's all in the hands of the inefficient, corrupt councillors.

Andy Mukhari, by e-mail

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