From the desk of the headmaster of Summerhill College – Calla Niemand
On Friday 17 March 2023, Summerhill College had a special Human Right’s Assembly. It was our honour to have Antoinette Sithole, Hector Pieterson’s sister, as the guest speaker.
It was a privilege for the staff, students, and guests to hear her ‘on the ground’ account of the events surrounding the death of Zolile (Peaceful) Hector Pieterson, who was shot and killed during the Soweto Uprising on 16 June 1976.
It was humbling to hear her message of hope, peace and healing, especially considering the personal trauma she endured with the loss of her brother. For many, who had only read about this incident, it provided a new level of understanding that cannot possibly be reached through reading a historical account. It was raw. It was personable. It meant something, to students, staff, and guests alike. It reset perceptions!
The magnitude of her talk took classroom History and brought it alive. This experience enriched all who were fortunate to attend the event.
It also served to affirm Summerhill College’s commitment to ensure a happy, healthy and inclusive environment for all our students. It reminded us how far South Africa has come in terms of equality but also how far we sill need to go to address the discriminative practices of the past.
We honour all who took a stand against unfair practices and paid so dearly for it. A foundation laid for us to continue building our beautiful rainbow nation, based on equality for all. Afterall, we are all only human!
Antoinette Sithole is the sister of Hector Pieterson, who was a 13-year-old boy killed by police during the Soweto Uprising in 1976 in South Africa. The iconic image of his body being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo and his sister Antoinette Sithole became a symbol of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Antoinette was with her brother when he was shot and she suffered a great deal of personal trauma as a result. However, she has become an advocate for peace and healing, and her message of hope has inspired many people.