An amazing day in Sharpeville - home of the 1960 massacre
We spent an awesome day in the townships this Sunday. We stopped over first to visit two of our aspiring entrepreneurs - Raymond and Walter from Sharpeville, a township just 45 min south of Joburg.
Raymond and Walter came to Zazida (www.zazida.co.za) last week to talk to us about how they can help unemployed youth in Sharpeville. They want to start a youth center where they can teach young South Africans the basic skills and tools needed to find a job, or create one themselves. Yet, they also mentioned starting a Tour Company, to show off the great town they live in. And we were their first customers!
So we went to go visit them today, and after getting lost about 10 times (my bad) we finally found them. They took us around the township and showed us the exact spot where Nelson Mandela signed the Constitution. Quite an amazing feat!
But then came the sad part, the history. For those of you who studied South African history, you might well recognize the name: the Sharpeville Massacre. On March 21st, 1960, 60 South Africans were killed for silently protesting their rights to freedom and equality.
"Eye-witnesses said men, women and children fled 'like rabbits' as up to 300 officers began randomly shooting into a 5,000-strong crowd outside the municipal offices in Sharpeville. Between 5,000 and 7,000 people had gathered at Sharpeville police station to protest against the pass laws... which require all black men and women to carry reference books containing their personal details including name, tax code and employer details. The law states that anyone found in a public place without their book will be arrested and detained for up to 30 days." http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/21/newsid_2653000/2653405.stm
In retaliation of their silent protest - the police commander stated "If they do these things, they must learn their lessons the hard way." Awful. Just awful.
We visited the site of the massacre, and the feeling you get is like nothing you can describe. How such senseless violence occurs is just so horrific. Innocent people - men, women, and children - slain because they wanted the same freedom as everyone else, is just too heart-breaking.
As we visited the memorial, I came across another girl - only 18 who shared my name - Christina. I vowed then, however cliche it may sound, that I will do our name justice. That I will always fight for those who need and deserve better. And that I will help these amazing people I have met in Sharpeville build the center they want to build for these young children.
It sounds cheesy I know, but nothing can ever explain the sadness one feels when you read that a 13 year old child lost their life. Its inexplicable.
But our tour guides, quickly brought us to the reality of today - a township full of starry-eyed youth full of potential and eager for an opportunity.
They took us to see Tiro - an amazing painter who has set up his own shop called Deep Rooted along with an amazing photographer friend. Their art showcase was truly fantastic. I share some pictures here so you can see they I aint playin when I say they have some real talent in this town. I can't wait to work more with Tiro at Zazida to get their artwork out to the market and earn they attention they deserve.
We finished at the mural painted by Tiro himself. Just astonishing in a sea of rubble. This man has some great talent, and this group of people is bringing hope and color to this town of such historically sad significance.
I have said it before and I will say it again: South Africa is amazing. And its people, more than anything, never cease to amaze me.
Thanks for the journey Raymond and Walter. We will be back!