31 July is African Heroes Day in the Africanist calendar. This is a day to commemorate and honour the founding fathers and mothers of the African liberation struggle.

Anton Mziwakhe Lembede passed on six decades ago in 1947 at the early age of 33. Lembede was a firebrand youth leader who pioneered the historic 1949 Nation Building programme. It is therefore fitting, as we commemorate the heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle, to pay special tribute to Lembede, who is regarded as the father of Africanism.

At the time when the liberation movement was docile and lacking in direction, it was Lembede and his contemporaries who breathed life into the liberation movement by putting forward a clearly defined Programme of Action which talked to relevant issues of the day – to fight for the freedom of the African masses from settler colonialism. It is this programme that also inspired the formation of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in 1959.

The 21st March 1960 anti-pass campaign which resulted in Sharpeville-Langa massacre was also part of the unfolding implementation of the 1949 Nation Building programme of action. All historical turning points of the Azanian liberation struggle have a chain-link to this programme.

We must forever salute Lembede for his remarkable contribution to the liberation struggle and pass on this history to generations of African children. Most importantly, we must continue the good work that he has started.

We must also acknowledge epic wars lead by gallant heroes such as Shaka, Bambatha, Sekhukhune, Makhado and other kings of the traditional African community. Their fighting spirit against colonialism lives in generations after generations. Our duty is to carry on fighting for the creation of an Africanist Socialist Democratic society in Africa, and an end to exploitation of man by man, passing on the fighting spirit to the next generations so that they can consolidate and defend the gains of the struggle.

It is equally our duty to defend the legacy of our heroes and heroines so that their selfless contribution is not in vain. It is at this juncture that we must pause and ask ourselves if the party of the poor African masses, the PAC, is living up to the expectations of our heroes and heroines – those who are late and those who are still alive.

It is our view, shared by many PAC members and the public alike, that the PAC has not lived up to its historic tasks. We must all rally around a common objective to correct this worsening tragic situation. In recent times, the PAC has allowed “a captured leadership, no longer with the ranks of the liberation movement”, in the words of the Pan Africanist Manifesto, to lead the PAC. This culpable group led by Letlapa Mphahlele, continues to wage a relentless war and inflicting grievous harm on the entire legacy of the party, veterans, party structures and its ideology. It is in the hands of the PAC to put an end to this carnage.

As we pay tribute to heroes of the liberation struggle: Sobukwe, Mda, Mothopeng, Masemola, Pokela, Madzunya, Biko, Phama, Poqo–APLA combatants and all freedom fighters, we must recommit ourselves to the struggle for liberation from landlessness, poverty and economic exploitation. We must also pay tribute to Garvey, Nkrumah, Lumumba and other African heroes across the African continent and the Diaspora.

The road ahead, as with all roads to freedom and economic justice, will be tough and bumpy.   The future of PAC is in the hands of its members and so is the future of the suffering poor African working class masses. We must turn the PAC into a revolutionary vehicle of the poor African working class masses and complete the noble revolutionary tasks started by our heroes and heroines.

Issued by the Pan Africanist Youth Congress (PAYCO)

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