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Soweto Crimes Against Humanity

ID Number: 32580
Maker: Birgit Walker; American Committee on Africa
Technique: offset
Date Made: 1977
Place Made: United States: New York, New York
Measurements: 43.8 cm x 31.7 cm; 17 1/4 in x 12 1/2 in
Main Subject: South Africa (Southern Africa)
Materials: glossy paper (fiber product)
Digitized: Y

Full Text:
Soweto Crimes Against Humanity

Acquisition Number: 2006-120

Hector Pieterson became the iconic image of the 1976 Soweto uprising in apartheid South Africa when a news photograph by Sam Nzima of the dying Hector being carried by a fellow student, was published around the world.

Production Notes: 1978 calendar

Copyright Status:
Copyright status unknown; may be protected by copyright law.

Exhibition Annotation:
In June 1976, several thousand school children in the South Africa township of Soweto marched against a new policy requiring that Afrikaans become the medium of instruction instead of English. The students protested that this policy would deprive them of fluency in an international language. As the students marched from one school to another to gather more participants, the police opened fire without any warning. The resulting uprising lasted several months, and workers joined the students in protests against the regime. It was finally put down by force, with over 1,000 killed. Many young people fled the country and joined the resistance in exile. This poster is based on what has become an iconic photo by Sam Nzima, showing a dying 12-year-old Hector Pieterson, the youngest victim of the Soweto Massacre, being carried by a friend, Mbuyisa Makhubo. Movies such as “Cry Freedom” and “Dry White Season” have depicted the incident, but show the police giving repeated warnings to disperse—the directors have stated that they felt Americans and Europeans would simply not believe that the police fired on children without warning. *See complete annotation in Note Pad.

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