African higher education in the 1960's
- New momentum developed in universities after the Extension of University Education Act in 1959
- Bantu Education was highly criticised as it was designed to cut down the African elite's ambition however also greatly extended higher education for black people.
- The nationalists realised that whites couldn't provide enough skills for economic development
- They also realised that for separate development to work, there would need to be officials and professionals.
- Aim: create ethnically specific universities that used the African languages and identification with the homelands.
- Many Africans seeking higher education were directed towards Turfloop --> Became a melting pot. Many came from ANC/PAC families
- By the late 1960's, the students were very politicised
- Many people came from Christian backgrounds
- Students heard of North American civil rights successes and slogans from MLK
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Steve Biko and SASO
- Steve Biko = medical student at University of Natal
- Part of National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) and Christian movement
- Very inspired by these ideas
- NUSAS was a student union (supposedly non-racial) but dominated by white people
- Eventually, after the University Christian Movement was banned, the South African Student's Organisation was founded (SASO)
- This was a new phase of South African resistance
- Took up African ideas used earlier in ANC Youth League and PAC --> Elements of black and liberation theology.
- African Nationalism + American Black Power = black consciousness
- Biko said that black people should lead themselves and not be lead by whites
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- Less of an organised political movement and more of an intellectual orientation.
- Self-assurance in being black at a time when white South African society was in power
- An attitude of the mind
- Decided to use the term black - probably from the US and to move away from terms like 'Bantu' or 'coloured'
- Black Universities (e.g. Turfloop) produced many activists --> Ironically the apartheid universities gave them this opportunity
- Some of SASO's leaders were arrested in the early 70's but they maintained a strong presence on black campus'
- In Durban, SASO organised a protest despite a government ban - moved from ideological mobilisation to confrontation
- 1972 = A Black Consciousness Movement and a Black People's Convention was launched
- Ideas had been drawn from Africanist ideas from PAC - distanced themselves from banned party though
- Movement of the youth - students
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The Mobilisation of School Children
- 1975 = momentum of protest was shifting to schools
- Number of children at school was expanding (1 mil - 3.5 mil between 1950-1975)
- This expansion put strains on staff and building space
- Soweto classes were 60+ children
- Bantu education had lead to increasing political potential
- High school students were still a minority for people their age though - had to face gangs that dominated the streets (tsotsis) - violent, aggressive and hostile
- School students faced a real danger of violence from these gangs - therefore had to fight both gangs and the gov —> Black consciousness gave them a stronger sense of identity
- By 1976, they were combining against the gangs - formed self-defence units
- Prepared to use violence
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The Soweto Uprising
- 1794 = the Transvaal Bantu Education Department decided to expand teaching in Afrikaans at African Schools
- Afrikaans was seen as the language of the oppressor - the language of racism
- English was seen as the language of advancement, a global language and the language of BC
- Now African children would have to master two languages in addition to their first language
- In May, SASM (South African Students Movement) tried to organise boycotts in protest
- 2,000 marching pupils were confronted by 50 police —> Stones thrown and police dogs released (a few dead and a few wounded)
- Pupils then attacked government buildings and killed two officials. Gov responded with force
- Overall; 138 were killed in first few days
- Pupils boycotted school, tried to destroy gov buildings
- June: other uni students marched in sympathy and Turfloop students tried to burn down the Afrikaans department on their campus
- Gov inquiry calculated that 575 people died in the uprising —> most violent episode since Sharpville
- Attracted global attention.
- In order to avoid arrest, 4,000 youths fled the country
- Many joined the Mk
- Student leaders were imprisoned on Robben Island
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The death of Steve Biko
- In 1973, Steve Biko was banned - made to live in Kingwilliamstown (Eastern Cape)
- Maintained a strong profile through his writing
- In 1977, he broke his banning order and left Kingwilliamstown and was arrested, interrogated and beaten
- He was taken to a prison hospital and died 12th Sept 1977
- Police claimed his death was due to a hunger strike - more likely that he died from his injuries from police brutality
- International disproval
- Funeral attended by 10,000 + people.
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