I do not recall 16 June 1976 as well as I should and had no idea of the politics that were happening around me. I do remember that it was a scary and very violent period in our history, and that many people lost their lives in what was the start of the beginning of the end for the Apartheid Government. The images of Hector Pietersen being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo, a fellow student, while his sister ran beside them is the iconic photograph from that fateful day in 1976 and it is etched into the psyche of South Africa.
The Memorial may be found inside the left hand gate opposite the office in Avalon Cemetery in Soweto. The gate guards will be able to assist with directions too.
It is not my place to tell that story, I only photograph the memorials and the graves. I expect that the viewpoint of events differs depending on which side if the fence you were on. Yet, I cannot help but wonder what this spot where I was standing was like on those fateful and bloody days so many years ago. A good explanation of the events of that fateful day may be found at SA History.
And of course a good starting point to unravelling this horrific period of history in South Africa is the Hector Pieterson Monument and Museum in Soweto.
The Poem “Young People” by Mzwakhe Mbuli (aka “the People’s Poet”) is inscribed on this memorial.
The Memorial may be found on Google Earth co-ordinates: -26.288800° 27.873989°
The grave of Hector Pietersen (also spelt Pieterson, Peterson) is also in Avalon Cemetery, but finding it is not too easy unless you know where to look. It is better to ask at the office for directions to the grave.
DRW © 2010-2021. Created 17/12/2010, Updated 16/06/2011. Moved to blog 31/12/2013