History on Sharpeville Essay

1. Study Sources A and B. How far do these sources agree about what happened in Sharpeville on the morning of 21 March? Use the sources to explain your answer. Both these sources are almost different, both in information and tone; Source A blames the police for the outburst of aggression, and Source B obviously impugns the South African. Source A was written by a South African journalist, apparently white- evidence for this is that the policeman asked if he had authorization to be there (it was an all black township).

This means that he would not be mainly prejudiced towards the blacks, he would be more interested in informing everyone with the truth. Source B was written by an English tabloid; however, their foundation of information is an unidentified individual, but it is highly it would be the South African administration, as only one journalist (Humphrey Tyler the author of Source A) was an observer of the Sharpeville incident, not the person who wrote Source B. Both the sources agree that the police arrived at Sharpeville at around noon, though not the exact time.

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They also agree that there were crowds near the station: ‘There were crowds in the street… (near the)… police station’ and ‘the only way the police could (get to)… the police was to force a way’ the tone of source B is more hostile. The main differences are in the poses of the people or the supposed poses. In source B, the author begins with ‘trouble was expected’ this indicates that the police did not have faith in the black people and they were always prepared like carrying a gun with them the whole time.

The Black South Africans had organised a serene demonstration, so the author of Source B is implying that they had already done something to make the police suspect them, or that they were obviously untrustworthy. In source A, it says that when the police drove through, most of the Africans looked interested in what was happening, most were just ‘grinning’, which shows that they were not browbeaten by the Saracens, and probably did not realise that the police were equipped, some may have thought otherwise, but we don’t know.

The source also says that the Africans were ‘grinning and cheerful’, utterly opposing Source B, which says that the Africans ‘besieged’ the police cars, implying a wild attitude and unfriendly intent there is a contrast there because in Source A, there is a carnival atmosphere and in Source B there is a unpleasant atmosphere.

Source A shows that the outlook of the police changed throughout the day ‘two of them (the police) waved back’ when children waved at the police in greeting; However, later they shut themselves in the Saracens for security, or possibly to terrorize or even scare the blacks away, this might be because they thought the blacks were violent people, but we know that they are kind people because they haven’t attacked them and the police may thought that they posed a dangerous threat. Source B says that ‘there was shooting in the morning in which one African was killed’ if this was true, it would surely also be mentioned in Source A.

The author of Source B is simply trying to build up the tension making the Black Africans more of a problem and they would cause more trouble. The sources correspond on the fact that the Africans were shouting pro-Africans things however, both of the saying were different, whilst Source A is translating the African language and it says ‘Our Land’, Source B simply says that they were singing ‘Africa, Africa’, which shows that it was either incorrect information, or the writer could not translate it properly in any case, it leads us to wonder exactly how much information is incorrect.

In my conclusion, Source A says that the Africans were gracious and safe, while the police were destructive; Source B suggests that the Africans were destructive and untamed creatures, while the police were blameless and only trying to protect themselves. We have some evidence suggesting that Source A, is a little more reliable due to Humphrey Tyler, because he was an observer of these events. 2. Study Sources C and D. Do these photographs prove that either Source A or Source B are wrong? Use the sources to explain your answer. In Source C, a Saracen is shown in front of a crowd of blacks.

The crowd is not enormous, and there is no indication of the police being ‘besieged’, which makes Source B a little bit less reliable. The Africans are standing in front of the police station so it is possible that the police would have to ‘force a way in using Saracens’ as it says in Source B however, the crowd look peaceful and unarmed, protesting in the most amiable manner possible. The police are armed (you can see the gun strap across the back of the nearest policeman to the camera) this can support Source B but not to a great extent.

Both photographic sources supports Source A in every way, the crowd looks peaceful, and not particularly ‘intimidated’ by the Saracens. The fact the police are armed shows that they were expecting trouble, this could support Source B but not to a greater extent, where it says that ‘there was shooting in the morning’, or it might only be that the police are naturally chary, and expected in black and white, it is hard to tell what colour it is, but it is a light shade, and could easily be the ‘big grey police car’ mentioned in Source A.

The crowd, especially behind the car, is very big, but no one seems to be brandishing weapons, or ‘besieging’ the car, as Source B says they are, but because that this makes Source B a little less reliable as well. The Africans are giving the thumbs up sign, a symbol of protest, but we cannot see if they are ‘grinning’ as it states in Source A. However, their serene gestures indicate that they are peaceful and don’t look violent.

There is no indication that they are getting in the way of the car; there is a path cleared for the car already, which we have evidence for Source B is wrong because it mentions them blocking the way and it was already damaged when in the photo it wasn’t but both photos did give us evidence about the police thinking there was trouble there. Both of the photographs Sources support Source A, and we have evidence that Source B is wrong in mostly all of the points but some of the evidence supports Source B.

However they cannot prove everything, as it is a photograph of one particular moment in time; there is also the possibility of photographs being staged. If they had more photographs it may have given us a better answer. In my conclusion, therefore the evidence given by Source C and D is not conclusive; it can prove neither Source A nor B to be right or wrong.

Even though most of the points occur in Source A, because of the fact that it captures a moment and it is not continuous, as are Source A and Source B, but still this supports most of Source A, but we don’t have enough evidence to fully justify or prove which source is right or wrong as I mentioned before. 3. Study Sources E and F. How reliable is the Source as evidence of what happened at Sharpeville? Use the sources to explain your answer.

Source F agrees mainly with Source E, because the other sources are written about the build up to the massacre, not the actual event, and disagree on details. Source E does not say how many protesters were present, but Source F does show the government would try to justify their actions any means necessary, and therefore are giving false and overdramatic statement of the number of people there, as it is hard to verify, and it would seem as if they had killed less people, and also that the police were in more danger, as told in Source B.

The statement that the police ‘lined up… and all fired together’ agrees with Source E, this agrees with Source A because it weren’t the people who were violent it was the police who were being hostile, though Source E says that ‘we heard (one), then another, then another. ‘ This would only be a slight time difference, and the guns would be fired at roughly the same time. Both Sources E and F agree that the police ‘did not attempt to give warning’ before the opening fire.

Source F adds that an African policeman ran out shouting to the crowd; Tyler may not have noticed or remembered this as there were so many people present. Source F states that the crowd were ‘good natured’; this ties in with Source A, Source C, Source D and Source E because Source A and E mention them being kind and good natured, while Source C and D, we see them as really polite people and caring everyone else, they are protesting for their own country but we see them as ‘good natured’ people still, which states that women laughing as they ran, thinking that the guns contained blanks.

The photograph below, Source G, shows people running from the guns and the Black African people posed no threats whatsoever to the police, but the police still thought the Africans were threats to them. This supports the statement that ‘nearly all those treated… had been shot in the back’. This proves that the African people didn’t pose as a threat to the police. It is also possible to see police shooting from the top of the Saracens, aiming down at the crowd, which proves that they were definitely shooting with malicious intent. this proves that the police are up there to protect themselves and to attack everyone, this doesn’t support Source B because they are only posing a threat, the police thought they are not the aggressive ones but in fact they are. The fact that the statements were taken from injured eyewitnesses means that they could have not been joined forces or conversed their statements before telling Humphrey Tyler. Since they have all said the same thing, we may conclude that they were all telling the truth.

However, the man collecting the evidence was an Anglican bishop Ambrose Reeves was the Bishop of Johannesburg for eleven years, until the South African Government deported him in September 1960 and he went to Baragwanath Hospital to visit the wounded; urgently he arranged for lawyers to take affidavits so that they could claim for damages against the Minister of Justice and the police; he would definitely be very biased, since the church was opposed to apartheid. He asked the injured people if they swear on their lives and he made an oath with them.

In my conclusion, the other sources that are definitely reliable (Sources A, C, D and E) agree completely with Source F, which means that this source is totally reliable. Photographic evidence can only really be used when it ties in directly with a given statement. 4. Study Source E and G. Which is more useful as evidence of what happened at Sharpeville, Source E or Source G? Use the sources to explain your answers. Source E is useful simply due to the amount of information and detail it provides.

However, as it is a written source, the author can reflect on a few minor details- ‘they must have thought the police were firing blanks’ and ‘thinking it might save him from the bullets’. The author’s speculation can be seen as useful evidence, because he was an observer; however, straight facts provide us with more believable evidence, and Tyler was an eyewitness, so he used other people’s cases and then looked at a photograph to prove it or not, Tyler tells us how the weapons were being fired- ‘as though he was panning a movie camera. ‘ This gives us a good amount of detail and this gives us an image as how the weapons were fired.

There is an opposition between this and the police’s claim after the events-(‘they were in desperate danger because the crowd was stoning them. ‘) He tries to write in a fairly impartial way, stating exactly what he saw (‘I saw no weapons… only shoes, hats and a few bicycles’) and the fact that he was a journalist means that he was a trained observer, helping him to catch every details of the scene, which points that the police were only trying to save themselves, but the literal evidence may be made up or not, we don’t know but because he is an observer of the events, we can trust his judgement.

Source G is a photograph taken by Tyler’s photographer, so the sources are flattering and backing each other up as evidence. A photograph is visual evidence, and this shows us part of the truth of what happened in Sharpeville, rather than having to search for information- however, a photograph captures only one moment in time if we had more photographs at different times then it would help us and give us more reliable information, whereas an author has time to reflect on the day’s events, and also incorporate outside factors, such as governments and police statements.

The photograph is extremely dramatic, and indicates that the government statement in Source F (‘ the government claim that the police station was besieged by 20,000 Africans’) this was also mentioned in Source B, which make the government source untrue, as we can see how many people are in it. We can also see that the police are holding (and probably firing) semi-automatic weapons- this backs up Source E.

Though a photograph may seem to the immediate eye, more useful, this is not always the case- the sources are equally useful in different ways, each telling us something in addition to what they already confirm, but the photograph could be staged. In my conclusion Tyler is able to explore and verify what the police said, and contradict it (the police said that they were being stoned, and that the crowd was armed), whereas the photographer to show us how many people were in attendance. The sources accolade each other and provide dissimilar types of proof, making them equally valuable.

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