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President Jacob Zuma delivered his 2011 state of the nation address to parliament. Since the time of Nelson Mandela, we have been hearing the same story every February. Zuma gets his fat cheque every month so are Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, including those of the opposition and they don’t give two hoots about the poor and unemployed. They are the worst hypocrites.
Praise singing, which was introduced by Nelson Mandela, has gotten out of hand and reflects the parochialism of ethnicity/tribalism. It doesn’t belong to a national institution like the national assembly. Parliament must transcend tribal predilection.
It is with great pleasure that the Pan Africanist Youth Congress (PAC) of Azania cordially invites all committed activists to the 2nd Mayihlome Annual Lecture to be held on Saturday, 30th October 2010 at the Central University of Technology – Welkom Campus from 16h00, under the theme “The Struggle for Economic Liberation in Neocolonial Times”, to be delivered By Liepollo Lebohang Pheko.
In a nutshell, the Annual Mayihlome Lecture is a public political platform to promote discourse over challenges facing the poor African masses in Azania and the whole African world, from a pan Africanist point of view.
The target constituency for this Annual lecture is young people, especially students, young women, the working class and the poor masses in general.
I wrote this, this morning… so it’s fresh [laughs and applause]
I have spent most of the early morning from 3 o’ clock thinking what I’ll say to you… there is so much. First of all I want to say that I am in your country and have been drawn to your country, the beautiful South Africa – which for some years in our own struggle we referred to as Azania – because of a deep love for you, of your heroines and heroes, of your long long struggle toward positive humanity for yourselves and all oppressed people on the planet. You have been a great inspiration to all the people on earth who are interested in and devoted to justice, peace, and happiness. I was asked to provide a title for my talk and this is what came to me: “Coming to See You Since I was 5 Years Old: A Poets Connection to the South African Soul.”
The reason I have been coming to you for over sixty years is because when I was five years old, my eldest sister – Mamie-Lee Walker – came home from college, her freshman year, and taught my 11 year old sister and myself your national anthem, “Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrica.” We were the only children of any colour who were taught this song in our tiny, totally segregated town, in the deep south of the United States in Georgia. The somber intense passion and dignity in the melody entered my heart and it has lodged there for the last 60 years. It did not just lodge there; it propelled me into the deepest of curiosities about who Africans might truly be, because in the deeply racist United States of the 40s and 50s (when I was born) Africa was shrouded in the most profound mists of distortion, racially motivated misperceptions, gross exploitation, and lies. Africans were almost cheerfully despised, considered to be savages certainly, and yet for me and my sister Ruth there was our sister Mamie coming home from college – whose fees my materially poor parents sweated to pay – there were the sounds of “Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrica.” “God bless mother Africa” was sung so earnestly by her loving sons and daughters, her horribly abused children that had made an impression on our psyches never to be erased.
The struggle is about power and those in power always want to have more power. South Africa will be the first country to have, in place, a media tribunal if the proposed information bill passes as is. Constitutional law expert Archibald Cox, drawing from the experiences of his country, the United States of America, says a free, self-governing people needs full information concerning the activities of its government not only to shape views of policy and vote in elections, but also to compel the government, its agent, to act responsively and account for its doings.
We come from a past in which we were denied the facts and prevented from communicating with each other in ways necessary for self-government and where the racist Apartheid government had the absolute power of censorship. The press was not free; we could not speak, write, and engage in political discourse and activities without fear of reprisal. After sixteen years of relative press freedom, the ruling ANC, SACP and ANCYL want to take us back to those dark days of oppression. Some government officials who have been engaging in malfeasance and corruption are calling for the establishment of a media tribunal to curb leaks that exposes corrupt activities.
There is this crazy thing about the celebration of Nelson Mandela’s birthday and the exaggeration of his role in the South Africa’s struggle for liberation. There is also overemphasis on the issue of the 67 years he put in the struggle. Some of his fellow comrades, like Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu, who were incarcerated with him on Robben Island, put in more years than Mandela in serving humanity. Anton Lembede, Ashby Peter Mda, Zeph Mothopeng and Oliver Tambo were involved in the struggle for liberation long before Mandela. Now what is so significant about Mandela’s 67 years in the struggle? The Western media, UN and Mandela foundations and charities set up after his retirement in 1999, are in the forefront of promoting this Mandela Day. The Western media sets the agenda for us and also decides for us who our important heroes are – the hierarchisation of struggle heroes.
According to the Western media, UN and the Mandela foundations and charities we should all forget the imperialist brokered sellout deals Mandela clinched in secret with representatives of Apartheid regime. They also want us to be in a permanent state of amnesia concerning the accusation against Mandela by his former lawyer, Ismail Ayob, that Mandela did not pay tax from the proceeds of his books sold abroad. The South African Revenue Services did nothing about these tax defaults to this day. Ayob also suggested that there are other trusts for individual Mandela children. Ayob was a trustee of the Mandela trusts. When there was a fallout between Mandela and Ayob after it emerged that Ayob had allegedly cashed in on the Mandela name, the much vaunted reconciler was said to have told a number of friends that, “I want Ayob imprisoned”.