News & events


23 March 2021

South Africa: Survey Shows Ignorance About Big Moments in South Africa’s History – Like the Sharpeville Massacre


The yearly Human Rights Day public holiday in South Africa in late March commemorates the Sharpeville Massacre, when police opened fire on a crowd of unarmed black protesters outside the Sharpeville police station on 21 March 1960. An estimated 69 people were killed and 180 injured, many shot in the back as they fled the scene.

To explore the patterns of collective memory in the country, the Human Sciences Research Council designed questions for inclusion in its annual round of the South African Social Attitudes Survey. The survey, conducted between March 2020 and February 2021, consisted of 2,844 respondents older than 15.

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