June 16, 1976, 40 years ago today: a spark ignited by students on the dusty streets of Soweto set in motion a chain of events that would play a key role in the birth of a new democratic South Africa, 18 years later. That fatal day began with peaceful protests but soon escalated into bloodshed, as ill-prepared police opened fire with live ammunition on unarmed students protesting against the implementation of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in black schools. The youth-led wildfire of protests quickly spread across South Africa. With the death toll mounting, police and the army moved into townships where government and official property was put to the torch. But the first seeds were planted as far back as 1953, with the implementation of the hated Bantu Education Act that condemned black pupils to decades of inferior education.