In South Africa, Remembering Soweto Uprising
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Hosting the World Cup has made for some joyous celebrations in the host country, South Africa, but today is also an important and terrible day in the country's history. From Johannesburg, NPR's Mike Pesca reports.
MIKE PESCA: Thirty-six years ago, Khosa was told by his bosses at The World newspaper to rush to Soweto.
THOMAS KHOSA: And there was Sam Nzima, the photographer, shooting pictures. And I looked at what he was shooting, and I saw Mbuyisa carrying Hector Pieterson, and he was put in a press car and went to the hospital, where he died.
PESCA: Today in Soweto, close to wear the picture was taken, stands the Hector Pieterson Memorial, dominated by a huge reproduction of the famous photograph. Tzisikelim Zakulu(ph) was there. She was a 16-year-old student the day of the strike.
TZISIKELIM ZAKULU: On June 16, as we were writing our midyear exams, we saw a group of students marching down Vilakazi Street, you know, and chanting. Where do they come from because this is just not done in South Africa, especially under apartheid.
PESCA: The hubbub doesn't faze Tzisikelim, who sees the events of June 16th, 1976, and the soccer game of June 16th, 2010, as an evolution.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
(SOUNDBITE OF VUVUZELAS)
ZAKULU: We never imagined that World Cup would come to South Africa first of all. We never believed that we would actually be free.
PESCA: Most everyone I spoke with at the memorial took this tack: We honor the past by celebrating the present. But Thomas Khosa dissents.
KHOSA: It was the beginning of many people dying, the beginning of many people going into exile, the beginning of many people losing their lives, families breaking asunder.
PESCA: Mike Pesca, NPR News, Johannesburg, South Africa.
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