This chapter includes the story of Hector Pieterson from Soweto. He was killed in the students’ uprisings which broke out in Soweto in June 1976, near Johannesburg. “This uprising ushered in the final phase of white oppression in South Africa. The picture of a boy who on 16 June was shot dead and carried away in the arms of a young man, his sister in tears next to them, went round the world. This picture became the symbol of the struggle for freedom by a new generation of young black people.”

“Hector Pietersen was an ordinary young guy who loved playing soccer.” That is how his sister remembered him. “There was to be a large demonstration that day, and since his pals were going there, he went along. There has been trouble in the township for many days already. Most of our parents did not want us to get mixed up in it. “But we had had enough. As black school children, seventy to eight or even more of us were often crowded into one class room. There was no heating in winter and often the windows were broken. There were almost no books. And our teachers only received a fraction of the pay of the teachers of white children.

“And then they thought up another way of harassing us: Because the mother tongue of the white Boer government was Afrikaans, all over the country mainly Afrikaans was to be used as medium of instruction. How could that work out? Our mother tongue was Xhosa. Some of us did know English quite well, but almost none of us could speak Afrikaans, nor could most of the teachers. As it was, we already had a hard time trying to learn. Now the cup overflowed. When our principal told us about the new instruction from the government in Pretoria, our anger boiled over. It was a humiliation and designed to make us look stupid . . . and to keep us stupid. And that is how we all got together and planned the big demo of 16 June 1976 . . .”

“And so it happened that Hector walked along with us. When the armoured vehicles of the police came closer we didn’t think about running away. Even when we heard the first shots, we thought they were just warning shots – soon the tear gas would again overwhelm us. But they shot to kill – without warning. Even at children younger than Hector, my brother. But Hector was one of the first to be hit. I am not sure whether he was the first. “But he was the first to die that day. So senseless. Just because he wanted to be taught in his own language. Because he didn’t want to let his friends down and therefore went along. He wasn’t really interested in politics . . .”

Hector’s sister recounted these memories in 1989 when she and two relatives were in Berlin to attend the renaming of a school in honour of her brother. Since 1994, 16 June is a public holiday in South Africa, known as Youth Day.