The 59th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre will be commemorated in 2019. On March 21 1960 the apartheid police opened fire on unarmed marchers protesting against a law that forced black people to carry identity documents. More than 200 were injured and 69 killed. The following edited excerpt is from a new book, Lie on Your Wounds, featuring the prison letters of Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) founder Robert Sobukwe, who organised and led the march. In a letter of condolence written on August 5 1974 to Nell Marquard, a friend with whom he had been corresponding since his time on Robben Island, Robert Sobukwe made the following telling observation: “I learnt some time ago that one cannot put oneself in another’s position. We may express sympathy, feel it and even imagine the pain. But we cannot feel it as the one who suffers it. They have a saying in Xhosa that the toothache is felt by the one whose tooth is aching.” Sobukwe, who clearly knew about suffering, loneliness and the i...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now