South Africa: The Big Day

As the day drew near when South Africa would declare itself a republic, the nation's mood was hardly festive or joyous. Jittery whites lined up to buy weapons, and the police raced through the streets, setting up roadblocks and arresting natives by the thousand.

The blacks had decided that Republic Day (May 31) would be a dramatic occasion to stage a show of strength against the harsh apartheid rules of Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd's racist government. Placards popped up on lampposts and shop walls. "Awupatwa" (Don't touch the job) declared the signs in Zulu. "General strike May 29, 30, 31."...

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