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The story of Jabu Vilakazi – the Robin Hood of Soweto

The tension between personal experience, memory and historical fact is dynamic. It can be the wellspring of great stories. This is apt in the story of Soweto activist and businessman, Jabu Vilakazi, murdered by police in August 1975, and forgotten by the liberation struggle. Oral histories about his life and tragic death could disturb a historical landscape that is both well-known but paradoxically not yet fully explored. This study prepares the way for a documentary on his story, set in the build-up to the 1976 uprising in Soweto, a political event inspired and directed by the Black Consciousness Movement. It will cast light on the untold story of the tensions between BC activists and the exiled leaders of the liberation movement.

The 1976 uprising is a pivotal moment in South Africa’s past. While the focus is placed on the event of protest, less is known of the time running up to that point, in which Vilakazi was conscientizing youngsters at his shop in Dube, and assisting the community to confront their oppressors, whether the state, the police or white business. This study turns a spotlight on the older generation of 76, many of whom who were blooded into activism in the 1960’s, but forced to enact their politics underground, paying supreme sacrifices for their bid for freedom.


Fellows involved in this project

South Africa

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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].