This is the famous Regina Mundi Catholic church in Soweto, South Africa, the black township next to Johannesburg. The church was the site of political meetings during the anti-apartheid revolution here. It’s also the place where students fled on June 16, 1978, after police opened fire with live ammunitition to break them up as they gathered to head to a peaceful rally. Two died and 11 were injured, and the racist regime was condemned worldwide.
Today South Africa is a democracy. There are many, many problems in the society and government, but you get a sense that people still believe in the fundamental goodwill that, almost miraculously, kept their revolution from turning monstrously bloody. I admire these people more than I can describe.
I’m here for several events — mostly talks and panels — including one later this week sponsored by the Freedom Forum, a journalism foundation based in Washington. Then we head to Grahamstown early next week for the Highway Africa conference, where I’m on two panels and chairing a third. After that we go to Zambia, where they’re having an election, for a discussion of technology and democracy. I’m thrilled that Jay Harris, former publisher of the Mercury news, is a co-panelist at several of these events.
Look for more reports during the week.