The book, aptly titled June 1976 Commemorative Dialogue, serves as a powerful memoir that sets several facts straight. It’s written much along the lines of Julie Frederikse’s “None But Ourselves”, which is ranked among the most authentic accounts of how the struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe was won.
The book, written by Eunice Rakhale-Molefe, forms part of a series of commemorative dialogues aimed at; first, demystifying and bringing to light the above mentioned omitted facts. Secondly, to highlight the milestones that have been implemented as part of turning the heritage schools as institutions of academic excellence.
Rakhale-Molefe’s elaborate narrative is enhanced by interviews with the school’s alumni including former North West premier Popo Molefe, Nelson Mandela Children ’s Fund spokesman Oupa Ngwenya, former director-general in president Thabo Mbeki’ s office Frank Chikane and Provincial Chief Director in the Department of Basic Education and Training’ s Zanele Mthembu. Others include Enos Ngutshane, the man whose letter to the Bantu education department rejecting Afrikaans as a medium of instruction sparked the June 16, 1976 insurrection, and retired Sowetan news editor Willie Bokala.
They all speak frankly, albeit nostalgically, in the book June 1976 Commemorative Dialogue, and are all working hard behind the scenes to return Naledi High School to its former glory as an academic, sporting and cultural powerhouse. Predictably, the book starts with the recollections of incumbent principal Kenneth Mavatulana, who poignantly says in part that:
“A school is an institution that is about academic performance and unless we have addressed the school’s performance, we cannot truly celebrate.”
All the book’s interlocutors present enthralling anecdotes about how bad things were in the early 1970s and how the families and the entire communities’ lives were adversely affected. Readers will appreciate the students’ noble and surprisingly mature liberation struggle roles, which they played as innocent youths who were reacting to an otherwise oppressive, suppressive and divisive regime. It tells of how Naledi High School is an institution worthy of respect as a one of the 8 heritage schools of Soweto.
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