Minister of Arts and Culture: Nathi Mthethwa

Last week there was a debate in the National Assembly about Heritage Day. All the heroes and heroines were mentioned except those of the PAC and to some extent BCM. There was no mention of Robert Sobukwe, Zeph Mothopeng, Urbania Mothopeng, Jeff Masemola and Onkgopotse Tiro. However, an Agang MP did mention Steve Biko.

Minister of Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, didn’t mention Anton Lembede and the 1949 Programme of Action. He mentioned African Claims and skipped the1994 Programme of Action and jumped straight to the Freedom Charter. Mthethwa mentioned the South African Native National Congress founding member, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, at whose law firm, Lembede articled as a lawyer in the mid 1940’s before his sudden death in 1947. Not only that, Lembede was the founding President of the ANCYL in 1943 and a revolutionary and intellectual par excellence. He was the brains behind the formation of the ANCYL and its leading spokesman. The mere mention of Seme and African Claims should have reminded Mthethwa of Lembede. I wonder if these MP’s know how ridiculous their speeches sound when they claim to be speaking about our heritage and deliberately omit some important aspects of that heritage.

Mthethwa mentioned Frantz Fanon and Aime Cesaire, but what has he read about and from these intellectuals? His speech was probably written for him because if it wasn’t then he should have known that in The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon mentions the Sharpeville massacre which was organized and led by Sobukwe and the PAC. The parliament from where Mthethwa was speaking was the same one which passed The Sobukwe Clause. The first death sentences of PAC and POQO members were confirmed by that parliament despite international outcry. Surely this can’t escape the memory of Mthethwa and Speaker Baleka Mbete.

What I found interesting was when EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi rose on a point of order and asked if it was acceptable or even democratic for one DA MP to talk about Greek when there was a discussion on Heritage Day or something to that effect. Then IFP MP and leader Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi also rose to remind Ndlozi that the word democracy itself came from Greek.

I wonder if Ndlozi and Buthelezi were aware that there were Greek words of African origin. Most people think that all the languages borrowed words and concepts from Greek and that it can’t be the other way round. This reminds me of an article I wrote for the Sowetan published on March 24, 1997 titled “Origin of word Africa not Greek”.

For example, habeas corpus existed in ancient Egypt long before Greece came into existence, (CA Diop: African Origin of Civilisation: Myth or Reality). When Pythagoras went to Egypt, he carried a letter of introduction from Polycrates of Samos to King Amasis, who in turn gave him letters of introduction to the Priests of Heliopolis, Memphis, and Thebes, (George GM James: Stolen Legacy).

When MP Ndlozi was reminded by Buthelezi that the word democracy originated from Greek he was lost for words instead of having retorted that there were also Greek words of African origin as my article mentioned above clearly demonstrates. Ancient Egyptian heritage is our heritage.

We can’t celebrate our heritage selectively by extolling the virtues of ANC heroes and heroines only. Recounting our past selectively is not history but his-story.

By Sam Ditshego
The writer is a Senior Researcher at the Pan Africanist Research Institute (PARI).

  • Typo, in the second paragraph line 5 it is incorrectly written … skipped the Programme of Action of 1994. It should be 1949 as reflected in line 3.

  • Moshe Msimanga

    Thanks M’Afrika for bringing the parliamentary discussion
    to our attention. It is really disturbing to witness Africans
    display such ignorance about their culture and history. We
    need to find ways of actively engaging our youth to study
    African history.

    The first lie that needs to be exposed is that Rusty Bernstein’s
    freedom charter has opened the gates of freedom and liberty
    for us. This is what David Smith, in his book, Young Mandela
    The Revolutionary years, had to say about the freedom charter:
    “Did the triumvirate ever stop to consider that truly bizarre,
    thoroughly awkward paradox: that it had taken a white comrade
    to articulate the hopes and dreams of a black nation?”
    Those who are interested in African liberation must revisit the
    discussions in this web magazine and study the interviews of
    A.P. Mda, Robert Sobukwe, Potlako Leballo by Gail Gehart and
    the autobiography of chief Albert Luthuli,
    Let My People Go. It is important for us to always bring up the
    discussion on freedom charter because it is brought up in
    the heritage day and the Pan Africanist Congress is lumped up
    with the neo-nazi, Freedom Front as the only two parties that
    reject the freedom charter. Yes we reject the document because
    we know it is collosal fraud used to side track Africans from their
    Liberation blue-print, the 1949 Programme of Action that calls
    for decolonization of every square inch of the African continent.

    Does our sister and that whole house believe that we owe it to
    the western civilization for the clothes we wear from the bottom
    of our soles to the top of our heads! It is such a pity that we run
    talk about all civizations except our Nile valley civilization and other
    African civilizations formed along the rivers throughout the
    African continent. Perhaps one book may be enough to make our
    sister MP. to realize that our ancestors gave the foundation to
    all the civilizations she so proudly state that we owe gratitude to, for
    providing us with shoes and our daily bread. The MP. Will greatly
    appreciate the history book by our ancestor, a sister, Drusilla Dunjee
    Houston : The Wonderful Ethiopians Of The Ancient Cushite Empire.

    Lastly, the parliamentary discussion does not even mention one
    of the greatest Nation builders in our continent, King Shaka Zulu.
    He was assassinated on the 24thSeptember,1828 at the age
    age 42 years. Like all African revolutionaries, his name is ommitted
    in the rainbow nation heritage day even though the day was set aside
    by Africans to commemorate the day in his honor.

    • Moshe Msimanga

      My mistake about the last paragraph. The king is mentioned by the
      Minister. I apologise for the error.

  • Herold

    Maneto Mamburu Says:

    Sure Bra Sam

  • Mzala

    I heard of the Minister, EFF, Agang and IFP contribution. What was the PAC an APC reps’ contribution. Did they mention the Africanists martyrs?