Analysis of the Sharpeville Massacre - useful for UK OCR history students

Essay by jamartHigh School, 10th gradeA+, April 2008

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South Africa Coursework1.Study Sources A & B-How far do these sources agree about what happened in Sharpeville?Source A is a journalist (Humphrey Tyler); Tyler was a journalist for a South African newspaper. Tyler was unique in being the only journalist in Sharpeville on the day of the massacre; this makes Tyler a primary source. Tyler’s account seems to be of the opinion that the police over-reacted.

Source B is a report in an English newspaper. The report was published the day after the Sharpeville massacre making it a secondary source. Source B clearly gives the impression that the police were being threatened and besieged by the protesting Africans.

Both sources agree on a number of points. For example, both sources agree on the presence of Saracen armoured cars in the township, “Driving behind… three Saracen armoured cars” – Source A, and “about a dozen Saracens were at Sharpeville” - Source B, the sources also agree that there were protesting Africans chanting at the police.

Source A states “many people were shouting”, and source B says “thousands of Africans shouting”.

Similarly, both sources also agree that the protest had grown into a large crowd, and also that there had been a large mobilisation of police in response to the crowds. Both sources also mention a concentration of police strength. Source A says “Police too, well armed” while Source B says that “Police reinforcements were sent”After this, however the sources begin to diverge. Both sources claim that the crowd was chanting a different slogan. Tyler claims that the demonstrators were chanting the slogan of the P.A.N – ‘Izwe Lethu’ (trans. ‘Our Land’); while Source B says that the protestors were crying “Africa! Africa!” also, the English newspaper reports that there were earlier disturbances in the township (culminating in the shooting dead...