International Education Week events to feature eyewitness to South African apartheid

An eyewitness to the oppressive apartheid system of South Africa will be the featured speaker as Western Carolina University’s Office of International Programs and Services sponsors a series of events during International Education Week, Monday through Friday, Nov. 16-20.

Antoinette Sithole, museum educator and curator at the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, will give two public presentations on Nov. 16. The first presentation will take place from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center, while the second talk is set for 7 p.m. in the Hospitality Room at the Ramsey Regional Activity Center. The Ramsey Center presentation will be given as part of an induction ceremony for WCU’s Phi Beta Delta Honor Society of International Scholars.

Sithole is the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, who died on June 16, 1976, during the Soweto uprisings. At 12 years of age, Pieterson was the first and youngest child to be killed by the apartheid regime, and Sithole witnessed the incident.

The 1976 uprisings altered the course of South African history and accelerated demands for change, including the release of political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela and the un-banning of political organizations such as the African National Congress.

The Hector Pieterson Museum was established in 2002 to commemorate and preserve the history of the young people who lost their lives protesting against the apartheid system.

“Ms. Sithole is a passionate speaker, educator and advocate on behalf of those who lived for years under the oppressive apartheid system,” said Kevin Childers, student services specialist in the IPS office. “Through sharing her historical knowledge and experiences, she assists others to better understand South Africa’s history and its current process of democratic transformation.”

With the theme “Tearing Down Walls: Overcoming Barriers to Freedom,” International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. departments of State and Education.

Other public presentations that will be given at WCU during International Education Week:


“Trench as a Wall,” from research conducted in Kenya, Nyaga Mwaniki, noon to 2 p.m., University Center Cardinal Room.


“Life and Culture in Madrid as Presented by Pio Baroja,” Nancy Norris, noon, University Center Cardinal Room.

“Intensive Language Program in Southern Spain,” Josie Bewsey, 12:30 p.m., University Center Cardinal Room.

“Never Saw Another Butterfly,” Ian Jeffress and Mary Kay Bauer, 1:30 p.m., University Center Cardinal Room.

“Religious Tyranny Against Modern-Day Earth Pagans,” Lianna Costantino, 2 p.m., University Center Cardinal Room.

“End of Communism in Bulgaria and the Impact on its Society,” Teodora Krasteva, 2:30 p.m., University Center Cardinal Room.

“The Fall of the Wall and the End of the Great War,” David Dorondo, 3 p.m., University Center Cardinal Room.

“Women’s Status in the Quest for Freedom,” Claudia Bryant, 3:30 p.m., University Center Cardinal Room.

“Zora Neale Hurston – Provocateur,” Sharon D. Johnson, 6 p.m., University Center Multipurpose Room.

For more information about International Education Week events at WCU, call the International Programs and Services office at (828) 227-7494.