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Liberation Before Education
SAHA T-shirt archive, photographed for Common, curated by Khanya Mashabela for Common, 6 May–26 July 2023. Image courtesy of A4 Arts Foundation.
Title Liberation Before Education Date 1980s Type Archival garment
Dimensions 73 x 75 cm


In 1980 and 1983 there were two major urban school boycotts. Following the Soweto uprising on 16 June 1976, the government had agreed not to introduce Afrikaans as the language of instruction but little else had been done to improve education. Schools remained under-resourced and over-crowded, coupled with the significant decrease in results following hundreds of teachers resigning after 1977. The boycotts began in coloured schools in the Western Cape but rapidly spread throughout the country. ‘Liberation before education’ became the rallying cry and gained support in many townships.