Tracey Emin 7
Britain by bike 8&9
That photo changed my life," says Antoinette Sithole. "It will be with me as long as I live." She is talking about one of the most famous images of the 20th century. Think of the Vietnam war, and we picture a naked child fleeing from a napalm attack. Think of the brutality of apartheid, and we picture the horror on the face of a schoolgirl whose dying brother, shot by the South African police moments before, is being carried in the arms of a stranger. That photograph was taken in Soweto 30 years ago today, on 16 June 1976. Sithole is the 16-year-old schoolgirl in the picture. Her brother, killed at the age of 13, was Hector Pieterson.
When the shooting began, says Sithole, "I came out of hiding and saw Hector, and I called him to me. He was looking around as I called his name, trying to see who was calling him. I waved at him, he saw me and came over. I asked him what he was doing there ... There was a shot, and I ran back to my hiding place. When I looked out I couldn't see Hector' I waited, I was afraid' where was he?
"Then I saw a group of boys struggling. This gentleman came from nowhere, lifted a body, and I saw the front part of the shoe, which I recognised as Hector's. This man started to run with the body, I ran alongside." That was the moment the three of them were photographed.
Hector was not the fir st to die that day - that was a boy called Hastings Ndlovu - but the power of the picture made him a symbol. The memorial to the Soweto schoolchildren's uprising bears his name' so does the adjoining museum, which explains that this moment, when black pupils in the vast township near Johannesburg refused to accept that they should be forced to study in Afrikaans, the language of the oppressor, was when apartheid began to collapse. Since the advent of majority rule, 16 June has become Youth Day, a national holiday.
Sithole, now 46, has become a guide at the museum, which opened five years ago. Every day she relates what happened to her and to Hector. Every day she sees the iconic photograph, the centre piece of the memorial. As each 16 June approaches, copies of it appear around Soweto. This year the image has been all but ubiquitous, because it has been reproduced on the posters, hanging from almost every lamppost, advertising today's 30th anniversary commemoration. President Thabo Mbeki will lead a march along the route that the students took in 1976, from Morris Isaacson High School in Jabavu to Orlando West Junior School, where the bloody confrontation with the police took place.
"To me, it is a mission," says Sithole when I ask how it feels to be confronted at every turn by the tragedy of three decades ago. "We can't stop the use of Hector's name, so I want to make sure it is used positively." But when we meet she is clad in blue overalls and a matching floppy hat, because she is working on a dusty roadside, helping to build a pavement that will one day stretch the entire length of the students' march.
Made out of pink bricks, which are meant to symbolise the blood shed in the uprising, the pavement is both a commemoration and an employment-creation project, but, for this woman at least, it is also a brief escape from her daily remembrance at the museum. "Not everybody here knows who I am," she confesses. "I don't want them to make a fuss."
I, too, was a witness to the events of June 1976. The apartheid government banned most whites from setting foot in Soweto, but newspaper reporters were a rare exception, and I went there on various stories for The Star, a Johannesburg daily.
There was no hint then of the unrest that would eventually spread from Soweto to all the townships of South Africa. It seemed that any potential opposition had been jailed, banned, driven into exile …