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23.11.2015
Creating a nurturing environment is like placing your computer in an effective workplace, away from water, sand, heat and other things that can damage it. Developing a lifestyle of forgiveness is essential to life-transformation and spiritual formation. Although an element’s number of protons cannot change, the number of neutrons can vary slightly from each atom. Most carbon on Earth exists as the very stable isotope carbon-12, with a very small amount as carbon-13.
Carbon-14 is an unstable isotope of carbon that will eventually decay at a known rate to become carbon-12. But when gas exchange is stopped, be it in a particular part of the body like in deposits on bones and teeth, or when the entire organism dies, the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 begins to decrease. This plot shows the level of carbon-14 in the atmosphere as measured in New Zealand (red) and Austria (green), representing the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, respectively.
Bomb radiocarbon dating is a term for radiocarbon dating based on timestamps left by above-ground nuclear explosions, and it is especially useful for putting an absolute age on organisms that lived through those events. The only major fluctuation [in carbon-14] we know of occurred when we began detonating nuclear weapons in the open air, back in the mid-20th Century.
Most radiocarbon dating today is done using an accelerator mass spectrometer, an instrument that directly counts the numbers of carbon 14 and carbon12 in a sample. A detailed description of radiocarbon dating is available at the Wikipedia radiocarbon dating web page. On this day in 1976 the students in the South Western Townships (Soweto) near Johannesburg, South Africa took to the streets to protest the racist Apartheid policies of the South African government.  That day would mark a turning point in the Apartheid struggle, in South Africa and throughout the world. I've developed this post, and some of the resources and clips contained within, as a tribute to the children and youth involved, and their influence on our understanding of racism and resistance in Africa and throughout the diaspora, especially the indispensable role of our youth. On that day the government and the police were caught off guard, when the simmering bubble of anger of schoolchildren finally burst, releasing an intensity of emotion that the police controlled in the only manner they knew how: with ruthless aggression. Fewer than 10% of black teachers had a matric certificate in 1961, according to Philip Bonner and Lauren Segal in Soweto, A History.
In 1976 the government introduced the compulsory use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction from Grade 7 – then Standard 5.
What this meant was that maths and social studies were to be taught in Afrikaans, while general science and practical subjects such as housecraft and woodwork would be taught in English. Bonner and Segal say one of the reasons for this ruling was that television was to be introduced to South Africa in 1976, and "Afrikaans-speaking conservatives feared that it would strengthen the position and status of English in the country".
It was also felt that black school children were becoming too assertive and "forcing them to learn in Afrikaans would be a useful form of discipline".
Pupils, teachers and principals opposed the ruling on Afrikaans, for more or less the same reasons: teachers were ill-equipped to teach in the language, which was for most a third language. When schools reopened in January 1976, parents and principals were unhappy – some applied for an exemption from teaching Afrikaans, saying their teachers were not qualified.


He suggested that the following Wednesday – June 16 – pupils gather in a mass demonstration against Afrikaans.
Once at the stadium, the plan was to agree on a list of grievances, and then possibly to march to the offices of the Transvaal department of education in Booysens, in Johannesburg's southern suburbs. The photo went around the world and Pieterson came to symbolise the uprising, giving the world an in-your-face view of the brutality of apartheid. Anti-riot vehicles poured into Soweto, roadblocks were erected at all entrances, the army was placed on alert and helicopters hovered overhead, dropping teargas canisters and shooting. The injured pupils were taken to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, some dying in its corridors, some dying at its gates before they could be admitted, according to Bonner and Segal. As night fell, the unlit township became even more terrifying: blinded by the night, police simply fired into the blackness. School principals were almost immediately allowed to choose their own medium of instruction, a major victory for the pupils. The most significant change, however, was that urban blacks were given permanent status as city dwellers. But there was a sting in the tail of these measures: the police were given powers to detain people without trial.
And thousands of young people left the country, disillusioned with the government crackdown and harassed by the police.
Most of the exiles returned home in the early 1990s, to celebrate the birth of democracy in 1994. Commemorated over 30 years later as Youth Day, an official holiday, it is the day that honours the deaths of hundreds of Soweto schoolchildren, a day that changed the course of the country's history: 16 June 1976. SA History Online puts the number of dead at 200, far higher than the official figure of 23.
Before that blacks either didn't go to school or were educated in missionary schools, which fell away with the new system. The schools were poorly equipped, with no science laboratories or sports fields, and often no library. Besides, the government argued, it paid for black education, so it could determine the language of instruction. White children had free schooling, but black parents had to pay R51 – about half a month's salary – a year for each child, in addition to buying textbooks and stationery and contributing to the costs of building schools. At an agreed time, they set off for Orlando West Secondary School in Vilakazi Street, with thousands streaming in from all directions. In total, "over 15 000 uniformed students between the ages of 10 and 20 [were] marching that day". Police formed a wall facing the pupils, warning them to disperse – an order met with resistance. Students targeted apartheid symbols: administrative offices, government buses and vehicles and municipal beer halls, which were first looted and then set alight.


They soon gave their support to the pupils, putting pressure on the apartheid government to temper its repressive rule. They ceased to be temporary sojourners in the cities, expected to return to the homelands, often inferior pieces of land far away from industrial centres and jobs, where they held permanent residence. Doctors, lawyers and other professionals were now also allowed to practise in the townships. They never finished their education, choosing instead to go into military camps and receive training. The Hector Pieterson Museum, in Orlando West in Soweto, is just a few blocks from where students and police first began their violent confrontation.
Many more children were enrolled and the existing schools became extremely overcrowded – with class sizes of some 60 children – and the quality of the education declined.
The disparity in the government subsidy was telling: R644 was spent on each white child, but only R42 on each black child.
At a meeting called by student leaders on 13 June nearly 400 pupils turned up, and were addressed by 19-year-old Tsietsi Mashinini, "an extremely powerful speaker".
By the end of the day thick clouds of black smoke hung over the township, and the streets were littered with upturned vehicles, stones and rocks. The looted liquor was taking effect – people wandered the streets intoxicated, in a celebratory mood, raising clenched fists and shouting "Amandla!" (power). Violence spread to another volatile Johannesburg township, Alexandra, and then across South Africa. By the end of the year about 575 people had died across the country, 451 at the hands of police, according to SA History Online.
This pressure was maintained throughout the 1980s, until resistance movements were finally unbanned in 1990. Teachers were given in-service training and encouraged to upgrade their qualifications by being given study grants.
They were subjected to torture in a desire to confirm the government's version of events: that the unrest was caused by a number of agitators.
Some were then infiltrated back into South Africa over the next decade, to perpetrate acts of sabotage.
In the chaos, children ran back and forth, throwing stones at the police – who fired more teargas. He was picked up by Mbuyisa Makhubo, a fellow student, who ran with him towards the Phefeni Clinic, with Pieterson's crying sister Antoinette running alongside. This was part of the steady onslaught against apartheid that finally broke its back towards the end of the 1980s.



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