“To March is to Die” The Sixth in the “Innocent Children Series”

We the children of South Africa:

We knew better white man.

You spend ten times the Rand on your child then you did on me.

While you did not teach us, we taught ourselves.
“The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”- Steve Biko

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, my Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”- Nelson Mandela

And when you tried to force yourselves on us, as you tried to rape us as a people with Afrikaans “the language of the oppressor”- Bishop Desmond Tutu, we the children said no more.

Afrikaans wasn’t just a language forced on us. It was your tools to bind us, to continue to enslave us.
We the children said no more.

One politician stated to us “You will one day work for a white man speaking Afrikaans or English so why would you object. I have not consulted with them nor will I consult with them. To do so would to let them win.” We the children said no more.

I was a new student at Morris Isaacson and you lay the last straw on our backs. We the children said no more.
My name is not important. I was one of thousands on that day. I had grown feeding on the anger of the massacre at Sharpesville in 1960 before I was even born.

I think my mom talked to her stomach with me inside as the sham of Rivonia locked away Mandela and his fellow heroes in 1963.

But I drank the words of Steve Biko, who urged us to hold back our hands and win with words. “You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can’t care anyway.”

For weeks we would skip school in protest and most of our teachers black and white agreed with us, though in silence for fear of the government, but we were not afraid. We were children.

At Sharpesville you came after us but it was at our grown men though children who had been there got hit with bullets as well. We were not afraid. We were children.

This was not going to be Rivonia where grown men stood trial for actions of violence. We are peaceful and would show our hands raised in peace. We were not afraid. We were children.

We were to march in peace from many schools to one stadium to rally. “Viva Azania” and “If we must do Afrikaans, Vorster must do Zulu”. We cheered and chanted. We were children.

Over ten thousand strong
We were children and we were naïve.
But we were children and we were patriots
We were children and you must have been afraid.
Otherwise why stop us from going to the rally?
Otherwise why stop us from marching to the stadium?
Otherwise why set the dogs on us?
Otherwise why shoot us all?

We fell in the streets dead.
Those who did not die were dragged bleeding to our hospitals.
You came to arrest in our hospitals, those you shot.
Our doctors saved us from your jails, your beatings, and your death.
And you were not done, as thousands of your police came into our town at night.
You came in the night and destroyed our homes.
You came in the night and destroyed our stores.
You came in the night to destroy our dignity.
The night sky was filled with helicopters, flooding the streets with their lights to shoot those who fled.

Hundreds of us died that day.
My little sister died.
My big brother died holding her.
My best friends died running away.
I ran until I could not run anymore.
I was one of the wounded,
The thousands of wounded,
The thousands of children.

We became the face,
The face of your tyranny,
The face of your race war,
The face of your evil

And you were right to be afraid.
We were the pebble that turned the tide.

Steve Biko was right “In time, we shall be in a position to bestow on South Africa the greatest possible gift- a more human face.”

Steve did not get to see it, as you murdered him the next year as you did to so many more of us,
over the next twenty five years.
But Mandela was able to see it.
I was able to see it.
My children were able to see it.

So children died that day and did not want to die that day.
But now children are free this day and my grandchildren will know only that freedom.
For over a hundred years you had fought your silent war against my people. I did not know that day the world would see you for who you were, the monsters you were. We were only children.
I did not know that we would that day in 1976 change the world. We were only children.

In honor of the children who died in the Soweto Massacre and the poet and patriot, Steve Biko- a true hero of South Africa and the entire world.


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