Black Wednesday Revisited

Black Wednesday Revisited

This week marks the commemoration of a dark chapter in South Africa’s history, the Black Wednesday.


The apartheid government had banned organisations affiliated to the black consciousness movement and had shut down several newspapers.


The Steve Biko Foundation recalled the memory on film. A 24-minute film documenting the events and hardships of the late 1970s, was screened in Cape Town.


On the 19th of October 1977, eight organisations and three newspapers aligned to the Black Consciousness Movement were banned.
The attempt to gag the media and muzzle government critics was deemed the Black Wednesday.


Anti-Aparthied activist, Peter Jones says: “I don’t think that they realised or they understood at the beginning just how hugely popular this movement was going to be. There is no other organisation in the space of 7 or 8 years that enabled to build a mass base like the Black Consciousness Movement and by the time they decided to ban our organisations it was literally out of control.”


Anti-Apartheid activist, Sylvia Vollenhoven, says: “There were several times that I was arrested; one time I was beaten up. Also when I was pregnant … that time they arrested me on the pretext that of being in a white area, but what they really wanted to do was to scare the “beep” out of me and they succeeded. They put me at the back of a van and drove so fast, that at 7 months pregnant I was being flung around the van and really feared that I would lose my baby.”


The screening was followed by a debate on the film.  Vollenhoven says: “There was a lot of anger; there was resistance; there were questions. So I think in terms of Black Consciousness, the film did what the people I imagine in the 70’s were doing. Using film, sport, drama to raise interesting questions and create dialogue.”


Black Wednesday will be commemorated on Sunday. Reports show that global press freedom has slipped to its lowest level in over a decade.
However, South Africa’s position has improved thanks to the shelving of the info bill.

Via SABC News

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