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21.03.2012 Feature Article

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 21st March 1960

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THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 21st March 1960 - Africans were massacred in Sharpeville, South Africa, a township that lies 30 miles from Johannesburg, after police opened fire on unarmed peaceful protesters demonstrating against pass laws that restricted the movement of Africans.

The pass laws protest was organised by the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) who called for "African males in every city and village... to leave their passes at home" and join demonstrations in open defiance of the pass laws, and offer themselves up for arrest. Robert Sobukwe, the President of the PAC presented himself for arrest, along with others, at the police station in Orlando, Soweto.

Similar protests happened throughout South Africa, including Sharpeville where up to 7,000 people who descended on the police station were fired upon, killing 69 and injuring more than 180. Eight women and ten children were among those killed.

Later the same day police charged at protesters with batons and guns in another township, Langa, killing three and injuring 26. The murders in Sharpeville and Langa sparked demonstrations, marches and further protests by Africans throughout South Africa, and led to the government declaring a state of emergency and banning the PAC and African National Congress (ANC).

Because of the brutality and violence meted out to unarmed people, both the PAC and ANC launched the armed phase of the struggle against apartheid.

The following video recorded on the 50th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre, features original newsreel and reviews whether the end of apartheid has brought an end to poverty, unfairness and injustice in South Africa:

Amma Fosuah Poku
Amma Fosuah Poku, © 2012

The author has 120 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: AmmaFosuahPoku

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