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Massacre at Sharpeville, South Africa, 1960
There is a very powerful and moving series of descriptions of how non-violent methods of civil disobedience were used to protest against the passbooks. Africans destroyed their documents and then went to police stations to be arrested. The almost joyful process of protest, accompanied by singing, is contrasted with the violent and brutal reaction of the police. There is a range of witness statements, including Africans and white South Africans. This is followed by some retrospective views, including those of Nelson Mandela, on their reactions to the events at Sharpeville. The final witness makes the connection between Sharpeville and the switch from non-violent to more militant methods. Footage is taken from Sharpeville: A Model Township, 17 March 1990, and People's Century, 20 October 1996.
Ask students to suggest headlines that would have appeared after this event in newspapers around the world. Get them to think about different newspapers representing different points of view. Would there be any way to justify the events at Sharpeville?
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