Redi Tlhabi looks at activism of '76 and present day

Four decades have gone by since the historic 16 June 1976 student uprisings, which profoundly changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa.

South Africa is currently confronted by student protest action and movements across the country, with issues relating to quality education, a unifying theme between the 1976 and 2015/2016 student protests.

Fees Must Fall student Activist, Wanelisa Xaba, was part of a panel with the 1976 student activists who said they never imagined that their children will have to struggle or fight in a democratic South Africa.

Xaba talked about how her aunt, who had to look for her mother in jails during the 1976 protests had to do the same for her in 2015 when UCT students marched to parliament.

Dulcy Motshoane, a nurse and 1976 student activist said - like the youth of today - at the time they were not afraid, all they wanted was to change the oppressive system.

I always talk on 702. One day I said we are living on a time bomb. So, I wasn’t surprised when they started the Fees Must Fall’

Dulcy Motshoane, nurse and 1976 student activist

Enos Ngutshane, who was the first student to be arrested during the 1976 student uprisings, talked about how he felt the need to write to the Minister of Education of the time.

However, Ngutshane said the struggle of students today should not be compared to those of 1976. Ngutshane said the youth needs to be patient, because there are policies underway to address the issues at hand.

As everyone who knows Wanelisa would have imagined, she disagreed, and expressed her disappointment with the current government.

But, for Professor Ahmed Bawa, CEO of Universities South Africa and former vice chancellor and principal at Durban University of Technology, South Africans should continue to work for the freedom they imagined in 1994.

It was business as usual at Vilakazi street; the noise, cultural events and youth and political parties marching down the street.

Listen to Redi's panel discussion...

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