The black majority comprising of Africans, Coloureds and Indians started to devise organized actions to curb these discriminatory practices. These actions came at a cost of numerous lives being lost in this struggle for liberation. The African National Congress, The South African Indian congress and other political organizations organized the Defiance Campaign in 1952. The Defiance Campaign was the first organized multi-racial march of “defiers” that culminated on more than 8500 volunteers being imprisoned for peacefully refusing to obey apartheid laws. This was followed by the protest against the requirements for blacks to carry passes, which represented identification documents that granted blacks permission to be in white designated areas for work purposes. In 1960 blacks decided to march on Sharpeville to burn their passes.
This march resulted in the massacre of the demonstrators resulting in the deaths of sixty nine people and many others who were injured. The Sharpeville Massacre clearly indicated that the apartheid regime was intensifying the use of brutal force in curbing the rise of masses against discriminatory practices. It was after the Sharpeville Massacre that the African National Congress decided to intensify the military wing “Umkhonto Wesizwe” that would operate underground to counter and fight the apartheid government. This period also witnessed imprisonment of Robert Sobukwe leader of the Pan African Congress for his role in organizing the Sharpeville protest. 1962 saw the arrest of Nelson Mandela’s arrest and the start of the Rivonia Trial that led to him being sentenced for life and serving twenty seven years of the life sentence in Robben Island.
Bellow is a quoted statement by Nelson Mandela during the Rivonia Trial.
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against white domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, its an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.
In the 70s more repressive acts of law were passed to entrench segregation further in South Africa. 1970 saw the passing of the Bantu Citizenship Act that required all blacks to become citizens of self governing bantustants, which catered for the different ethnic groups. This was the government strategy to divide blacks on tribal and ethnic lines and to make them see themselves as separate. During this era there was witness to deaths of people whilst incarcerated or held in detention, Steve Bko’s brutal death is one such death.
Alongside, the students uprising also intensified, the formation of the South African Student Organization (SASO) and the Soweto Student Uprising in 1976 are examples of experiences of outright brutality by the apartheid government against those who were fighting against oppression. This uprising led to police killing more than one thousand people all over South Africa, the majority of those killed were high school children. Most of the school children that were alive were arrested by the South African Police, others disappeared without trace and there was a great exodus of students fleeing the country to be exiled in neighboring
countries and opting to join the political movement and their political movement also became stronger during this era. South Africans were also barred from participating in international sporting codes, anyway, most of those who participated in international competitive sports were white.
In the early 80s most institutions of education in South Africa at high school and tertiary levels were experienced student protests and uprisings, I was also at university at this period of time. Whilst this was happening in South Africa the SOuth African Defence political refuge to the political exiles. One of these I witnessed in 1982 in Lesotho whilst visiting exiled members of my family. The Lesotho raid resulted in the deaths of forty two people many of whom were attacked whilst sleeping innocently. After this raid the political parties decided to move political refugees to safer countries.