On June 16, 1978, Caroline Setsiba and thousands of other black students from schools in Soweto, South Africa, marched to protest that country's National Party and its apartheid rule, and the recent decree that the Afrikaans and English languages must be used in classes. Some 500 students were killed that day, and many more were wounded by police officers in what became known as the Soweto Student Uprising. Youth Day is now celebrated in South Africa on June 16 each year, to remember those killed in the demonstration.
Setsiba, now the Speaker of the Randfontein Municipality of South Africa, will discuss the “Struggles for Democracy in South Africa” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25 in the library's Geneva Room.
Her talk, part of the centennial celebration of the founding of William Smith College, is sponsored by the President’s Office in conjunction with the William Smith Centennial.
Although her secondary education was constantly interrupted by demonstrations and violence associated with the anti-apartheid movement, she was elected class representative in 1975 at Daliwonga Secondary School in Dube. She attended Meadowlands High School in Soweto from 1978 until 1981, including periods when she was detained, tortured and held in solitary confinement for six months because of her efforts to organize against the apartheid.
As a member of the Soweto Youth Congress and of the Congress of South African Students, she was influenced by the ideology of Black Consciousness as taught by Steve Biko, a prominent figure in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1960s and '70s who died in 1977 while in police custody.
After earning her bachelor's degree in communication science, she was elected speaker of the Randfontein Municipality of South Africa in 2006, and has since concentrated her efforts on development initiatives in her homeland. A leader in the African National Congress, the country’s majority political party, she is specifically interested in education and election administration.
Now pursuing a post-graduate degree in journalism and media studies from Intec College, a distance education center in Cape Town, she lives with her husband and children in Randfontein.