2 SharpevilleThe Sharpeville Massacre occurred on 21st March 1960, when white South African police opened fire on a crowd of black protesters, killing 69 people and injuring at least 130.
3 Why did it happen?On 16 March 1960, Robert Subukwe, leader of the Pan African Congress (a liberation movement or PAC), informed the commissioner of police that his organization would embark on sustained but disciplined non violent campaigns for 5 days, starting on the 21st December.Their aim was to peacefully bring aroundthe scrapping of the pass system."I have appealed to the African people to make sure that the campaign we are to embark on, must be conducted in good spirit and non violence.”
4 The Plan…The objective of the march was for African men to leave their Passes at home and present themselves for arrest.This would result in all the protestors being arrested, prisons would fill up; the country would grind to a halt as no labour would be available, and the pass law would be scrapped.
5 What went WrongA scuffle broke out outside the police station, in the tussle that followed a police officer was pushed over. The front row of the crowd was shoved forward as marchers from the back of the crowd, curiously wanted to see what was happening up front.It was then that police opened fire, without being given an order to do so. Panic gripped the marchers. They immediately tried to flee but were unable to do so, due to the massive crowd surrounding them.
6 I was playing hopscotch on the slate Interrupts the carefree nature of her playEmphasises childhood innocenceAlliteration highlights the juxtapositionI was playing hopscotch on the slatewhen miners roared past in lorries,their arms raised, signals at a crossing,their chanting foreign and familiar,like the call and answer of road gangsacross the veld, building hot arteriesfrom the heart of the Transvaal mine.Metaphor – they are the lifeblood of the mineOpen grassland
7 I ran to the gate to watch them pass. Language suggesting an exciting storyChildish curiosityI ran to the gate to watch them pass.And it seemed like a great caravan10 moving across the desert to an oasisI remembered from my Sunday School book:olive trees, a deep jade pool,men resting in clusters after a long journey,the danger of the mission still around themand night falling, its silver stars just like the onesyou got for remembering your Bible texts.Simile – a reminder that we are seeing this through a child’s eyes
8 Then my grandmother called from behind the front door, Metaphor – harsh sound; perhaps something she hears regularly like the daily sweeping of steps?Then my grandmother called from behind the front door,her voice a stiff broom over the steps:‘Come inside; they do things to little girls.’
9 The dead are unnamed – do the whites not care? A metaphor for the Sharpeville massacreFor it was noon, and there was no jade pool.Instead, a pool of blood that already had a living nameand grew like a shadow as the day lengthened.The dead, buried in voices that reached even my gate,the chanting men on the ambushed trucks,these were not heroes in my town,but maulers of children,doing things that had to remain nameless.9And our Sharpeville was this fearful thingthat might tempt us across the wellswept streets.Seen as villains insteadThe white’s Sharpeville?Untrue but a frightening idea to instil fear of blacks in the childrenFrom the white areas to the black areas
10 If I had turned I would have seen The child’s growing understanding that her community are being unfairIf I had turned I would have seenbrocade curtains drawn tightly across sheer net ones,known there were eyes behind both,heard the dogs pacing in the locked yard next door.But, walking backwards, all I felt was shame,at being a girl, at having been found at the gate,at having heard my grandmother lieand at my fear her lie might be true.Walking backwards, called back,I returned to the closed rooms, home.Words that show secrecy and concealment. The image suggests narrow-mindedness
11 Links with the other poems? Shared themes?Prejudice – “Half-Caste”; “Parade’s End”Fear – “Belfast Confetti”Differences/contrasts – “Half-Caste”; “Parade’s End”Violence – “Belfast Confetti”, “Parade’s End”Communities – “Parade’s End”; “Belfast Confetti”
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