From the editor’s desk
There are images that exist which dominate the struggle to overcome apartheid and none more so than 12-year-old Hector Pieterson being carried away by Mbuyisa Makhubu from a police shooting incident in Soweto on 16 June 1976.
Hector by all accounts was a calm sweet child who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was not the only child shot that day. The first to die was Hastings Ndlovu. When the June 16 uprising had abated, scores of children and young teens had perished at the hands of apartheid police.
Thousands more were in detention and many of them were tortured.
The story went global and partly because of the shocking nature of that photograph.
However, at the core is a story of a family who lost a loved one in the midst of a nation in crisis.
Hector's sister Antoinette Sithole is proud of his stand but misses her little brother every day.
Interviewed in 2016 she explained that Hector was a quiet boy who just got caught up in the march and ended up paying with his life.
Hector and Hastings were joined on the streets in 1976 by Cyril Ramaphosa, Murphy Morobe, Popo Molefe, Seth Mazibuko and tens of thousands of others. Many youngsters joined the military wings of the Pan Africanist Congress and the African National Congress, leaving the country only to return as cadres fighting security forces.
One of those who left was the man who carried Hector, the then 18-year-old Makhubu. A documentary made in 1998 by Feizel Mamdoo features Mbuyisa's late mother who handed him R10 after he said he wanted to find a job in Durban after the uprisings began. He used the money to travel to Botswana instead, then Nigeria.
The last known message Mbuyisa sent to his mother was via the Red Cross in Nigeria in 1978. Unfortunately, all went quiet and his mother died in 2002 never knowing what happened to her son. We still do not know.
It is these stories of our history that we should recall on 16 June. The suffering caused by the scourge we know as apartheid crossed frontiers and remains etched in our memories to this day. While some things are cut and dried, others remain mysterious and unsolved.
If you take a closer look at present South Africa, you realise that one of the overriding signs of change in our nation is a youth culture that is both introspective and marketable globally.The youth generate dynamic art, fashion and music, with incredible designs emanating from the southern tip of Africa making their way into the world.This is a sign of hope.
That our youngsters continue to lead us into a new day and prompt the nation through energy and action must be welcomed. We may mentor our youngsters but must also accept that through their urgent and direct action change takes place.
It has happened in the past and will happen in the future.