Home News Event to commemorate 40th anniversary of Galeshewe students’ uprising

Event to commemorate 40th anniversary of Galeshewe students’ uprising

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An industrial theatre production of the events of September 8, 1980 will also be staged on the day

File picture: Kim Ludbrook / EPA

THE FORTIETH anniversary of the 8th September 1980 Galeshewe students’ uprising will be commemorated in Kimberley this month.

The Galeshewe Memorial Project has partnered with Kitso Development Programme (KDP), the McGregor Museum and the Africana Library to host the 40th anniversary of the Galeshewe students’ uprising, with the main event set to take place on September 23.

Joey Kers, from the Galeshewe Memorial Project (GMP), said on Wednesday that the organisation was established to preserve the rich liberation history of Ga-Kgosi Galeshewe, the Northern Cape and South Africa by honouring, commemorating and memorialising the role students played in the 1980 uprisings.

“Between July 28, the day the uprising started at Tshireleco High School, and September 7, 1980, Ga-Kgosi Galeshewe students rose up against Bantu Education and embarked on school boycotts which shut down the entire schooling in the township,” Kers said.

“On September 8, 1980, the students marched from St Boniface High School to Abantu Batho Centre (ABC) Hall as part of the protest and dumped their school books there. The apartheid South African Police’s riot unit shot at them with rubber bullets and teargas. In retaliation, students stoned and petrol bombed several police homes and state-owned properties. A total of 22 students were rounded up and charged with acts of arson.”

Kers added that this month’s planned event would give recognition to those students who participated in the uprisings where five were charged and convicted in 1983, namely Sello Neville Motlhabakwe, Eugene Mokgoasi, Zenzele Hlatshwayo and the late Ben Mlulami Fani, as well as Kers.

The five received between 10 and 15 years for charges that included terrorism, arson, attempted arson and housebreaking and they were sentenced to Robben Island.

The planned commemoration event on September 23 will be attended by Kers, Motlhabakwe and Mokgoasi, together with detainees, Benjamin Swartz and Thomas Nyaniso Plaatjies, the executive mayor of Sol Plaatje Municipality, Patrick Mabilo, and several guests not exceeding 50.

The theme for the event is: 40 Years On: 8th September 1980: Reflections on and Lessons Learned from the Legacy of the Galeshewe Students’ Uprisings.

An industrial theatre production of the events of September 8, 1980 will also be staged on the day by the Galeshewe Theatre Organisation (GATO) and a symbolic dumping of books will take place, with books donated by the public being handed over to Tshireleco and St Boniface High Schools, as well as sanitary towels.

“The benefits of the industrial theatre production are to create awareness amongst our youth of the value of the craft in the narratives of ourselves as citizens of a country with a rich past, in order that they may understand their roles within society better, provide a platform from which the GMP can communicate the embedded narratives found within our communities to a larger audience, especially to our school learners and youth, and to empower local researchers, script writers, actors, learners, educators and theatre workers to participate more meaningfully in job creation through the development of the creative industries at a provincial and to an extent national level,” Kers said.

Several speakers will use the opportunity to reflect on September 8, 1980, the lessons learned and the legacy left behind by the Galeshewe students’ uprisings. Further plans are to commission a documentary on these events.

On September 8 this year, radio interviews were conducted on RTS FM, Revival FM, Motsweding FM and Lesedi FM reflecting on the historic events and further interviews are lined up for September 22.

According to Kers, the GMP was founded in August 2014 and registered as an NPO. The first event held was the 34th anniversary of the September 8, 1980 students’ uprisings in September 2014.

In November 2014, a memorial lecture was hosted to commemorate the 1952 Mayibuye Uprising. Another event, the Nelson Mandela/Kgosi Galeshewe, was hosted in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha in March 2015 and in November of that year the GMP hosted a memorial lecture to mark the 35th anniversary of the students’ uprising.

“Subsequent to that, the GMP commemorated the 65th anniversary of the 1952 Mayibuye Uprising in November 2017.