Friday 16 June is a public holiday in South Africa which commemorates the day that resulted in a wave of protests across the country known as the “Soweto uprising of 1976”. As the majority of us would be enjoying the day off with friends and family, the St John’s D.S.G. Senior School decided to dedicate a whole day’s programme to this significant day in our country’s history on Thursday, 15 June.
The purpose of the day was not only to educate the girls about the events of the Soweto Uprising of 1976, but also for our girls to have a platform for their voices to be heard as they addressed, discussed and learnt more about social awareness, social justice and any other pressing issues that they, or other youth, are currently affected by.
Mrs Kidd (our Head of the English Department) says, “The object of addressing these difficult topics was not to offend anybody, but rather for all our girls to be able to express their points of view, opinions and thoughts on these matters. Our hope was that we would all be able to learn from each other. It is sometimes healthy to feel uncomfortable, as this means that we are being challenged to think differently than we have before.”
The girls started the day with a combined Chapel Service and a class quiz. They then moved to the Theatre where the main part of the day’s events kicked off. The programme included the Grade 11 Dramatic Arts pupils performing various “protest theatre” scenes, as well as poetry, music and an Interhouse public speaking competition, whereby girls representing their house gave a speech, based on the theme “What would it take?” A highlight of the day was a talk by a well-known law lecturer from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Professor Suhayfa Bhamjee. Professor Bhamjee’s talk was entitled, “Defining Social Media”, and she spoke in-depth about social media law and the criminal, civil and societal implications of writing, “liking” and sharing hurtful, or defamatory, posts on social media.
To end the day, the girls went back to their classrooms for a time of reflection on the day’s proceedings and spoke about the Community Service Challenge (Mandela Day).