Briefing from ROAPE Volume 3 Number 7
Sparked by a student strike in Soweto in June, there raged in South Africa during the next three months an ever-growing veld fire of mass activity. It is without much doubt the most sustained mass eruption of struggle against the South African state ever. It raged in major cities and in small towns, with only the countryside comparatively quiet. What presented itself initially as a protest against the use of Afrikaans in African schools took on ever new dimensions as its social base widened and deepened. The struggle culminated in September in a disciplined stay-at-home by large sections of the black working class: and, in this stay-at-home as the President of South Africa's Association of Engineering Employers commented with some consternation, "the emphasis in the leaflets distributed ... had switched from being anti-government to being anti-business". (Financial Mail, 17 Sep 2020) This briefing could not hope to provide anything like an adequate assessment of events of such a momentous kind for the revolutionary movement in South Africa. At this stage it is only possible to situate them in their historical context, to provide a brief chronology of the events themselves, and to offer some preliminary remarks on their implications.