We are gathered here today to remember, honour and celebrate the life of a man whose death has left not only sorrow, grief and nostalgia but also in disarray, confusion, disorganization and lack of leadership or direction in the ranks of the PAC. For 32 years now members of the PAC have been looking for a leader who does not exist but who only exists in their minds and wishful thinking. The Party has experienced endemic and continuous crises that have led to the scattering, drifting away, marginalization and loss of some of its best cadres through disappointment, despondent, despair, tiredness, demoralization, de-motivation but also because of opportunism and corruptibility by a few others who were not prepared to leave the ‘gravy train’ pass by while there was time as this is seen as the phase or era of benefits. Sobukwe and many others who did not see 1994 toiled for no benefits and some who lived to see 1994 have yet to enjoy the fruits of freedom or liberation.

Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe Remembered. (Source: Graaff-Reinet Publicity Association)

At the time we remember, honour and celebrate this great man, the party he founded and led briefly has lost shape, identity and soul. It is unrecognizable because it is neither heard nor visible; its voice has been deliberately and systematically stifled and choked by those who fear the truth and their puppets and agents who are aiding and abetting in the destruction of this Party of the African masses. The space of the party of Sobukwe is occupied by those who pay lip service to the interests and aspirations of the masses of the poor and have-nots who have yet to enjoy the fruits of the freedom they and their children sacrificed and suffered for. Their material conditions have yet to change radically 15 years since national freedom was attained in April 1994. They continue to live in abject poverty and squalor and ravaged by HIV/AIDES, tuberculosis and many other common diseases. The majority are still illiterate, semi-literate and ignorant in this era of information technology and globalization.

The unchanged situation is characterized by socio-economic inequalities and disparities that obtained during the apartheid era and have been carried forward into new South Africa and are perpetuated and sustained by the new African political, bureaucratic and business elites in partnership with the apartheid elites and this is what constitutes neo-colonialism known as new South Africa or the Rainbow nation buttressed by reconciliation without justice. This is the Mandela and Tutu order which has meant the maintenance and perpetuation of the apartheid status quo or the apartheid property relations buttressed by the most liberal constitution that does not serve the interests and aspirations of the masses of the African people who are crying for leadership as they did prior to the Sharpeville and Langa Massacres.

Sobukwe the Man and Leader

It was in these contexts that Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe emerged as leader of the newly formed Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in April 1959 almost ten years after the African National Congress had abandoned the 1949 Programme of Action for the Kliptown Charter (Freedom Charter) which claimed South Africa belonged to all who live in it Black and White. This was in contradistinction to the 1949 Programme of Action that stated among others that: “Like all other people, the African people claim the right of self-determination”. This was a challenge to the legal status of South Africa because this position raised the level of the struggle to international level and thus ceased to be an internal matter as suggested by the Kliptown Charter. From the onset the PAC clearly stated that its aim was to overthrow white domination for the implementation and maintenance of the right of self-determination of the African people. This was the difference between the Charterist approach and the Africanist approach, hence anti-colonialism (revolutionary) and the return of the land to the indigenous dispossessed as opposed to anti-apartheid (reformist) and the recognition of apartheid South Africa as an independent and sovereign state.

The Africanist approach was in line with the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle on the continent described as the wind of change which was blowing across the continent and was moving with a force of a hurricane after Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah had returned to the continent to implement the resolutions of the Fifth Pan African Congress and intensify ongoing struggles. In South Africa to overthrow white domination needed courageous leadership; leadership that could confront the white minority regime without fear or compromise. It is this leadership that Sobukwe provided when he became the leader of the Pan Africanist Congress in April 1959 after the collapse of the Defiance Campaign of 1952 when the leadership of the African National Congress abandoned the masses of volunteers in jails.

When he took over as leader of the PAC in 1959, he ensured that the party had a clearly defined programme of action. This was the nation-building programme which was implemented in the form of campaigns. This programme needed preparation prior to implemenation. It was for this reason that the Status Campaign was launched to prepare the PAC members and the masses of the people mentally and psychologically to face the apartheid regime which for a very long time had ruled by fear, intimidation and violence. Sobukwe observed that “for over three hundred years, the white foreign ruling minority has used its power to inculcate in the African the feeling of inferiority. This group has educated the African to accept the status quo of white supremacy and Black inferiority as normal”. The Status Campaign “will free the mind of the African — and once the mind is free, the body will soon be free. Once white supremacy has become mentally untenable to our people, it will become physically untenable too — and will go”.

Sobukwe’s analysis of the situation in South Africa at the time tells us that he put first things first that took into consideration the condition of the masses of the people for them to be drawn and involved in the struggle. He displayed authority of competence because he was a man of great intellect; an academic of outstanding abilities; a great thinker and philosopher; a revolutionary intellectual; a gifted orator who could move the people to action and feared by the regime that saw as a man with a mission.

The Minister of Justice Johannes Balthazar Vorster in the debate in parliament on the Sobukwe Clause said that: “here we are dealing with a person who has a strong, magnetic personality, a person who can organize, a person who feels that he has a vocation to perform this task”. It was not only Sobukwe’s charisma and commitment the apartheid authorities feared and detested, but they also hated his guts and uncompromising attitude or stance.

He initiated ideas and action because he was able to combine theory and practice. He was forceful, forthright and expressed himself with clarity that left no one in doubt of what he really wanted to say. He left the party an amoury of ideas and concepts that continue to serve as theoretical guidelines for the party because theory is a guide to action. Some of the ideas or concepts have withstood the test of time and continue to be policy guidelines for the party in its daily activities.


  1. Forward Sons and Daughters of Afrika! Afrika needs its Revolution, the pan-Afrikanism, the West so fears. Afrika owes the West nothing, it is the West that owes Afrika. This is a great article. I was at the centre of the “troubles” of the 1960s in Cape Town and Transkei and lost over 50 comrades to the hangman; how I think can be seen from Preambles of the Prevention of Discrimination & Promotion of Equality Bill and that of the Equality Act. Impromptu speech!

  2. When Tebogo Matime was doing the show that is being done by Siki Mgabadeli he promised me on air that he would read a book about Sobukwe just like SAFM read books by and about other people. Matima is no longer doing that show. However, the show is still there. Let us flood the SABC with emails, faxes, phone calls to remind them to read Benjamim Pogrund’s book How Can Man Die Better like the did with other books like Native Nostalgia. We must remind them that they are a public broadcaster. Let us face it, Elizabeth Windsor (the Queen of England) doesn’t give a damn about President Jacob Zuma. So why was he invited to Buckingham Palace? You guessed it right – to be given instructions to behave like an obedient servant of Western Imperialism.

  3. Just yesterday I wrote on Mayihlome that President Jacob Zuma was in Britain to ensure Western Imperialists that he would become their obedient servant. Today on the SABC Morning Live television news broadcast Zuma said South African law doesn’t allow for nationalisation of mineral resources and there was no discussion of natiomalisation in the ruling ANC. He then contradicted himself by saying this country’s natural resources belong to the people of this country and are therefore the country’s our national heritage. I am not a prophet it is just that members of the ANC and its tripartite alliance are predictable. Moreover, great African leaders like Sobukwe foretold the calamity into which the betrayers in the ANC are going to lead us. That is why they don’t want to talk about him, that is why they would rather the public should not know about this intrepid freedom fighter and intellectual giant.

  4. In my last comment I wrote that President Zuma ‘ensured’ western imperialists instead of writing ‘assured western imperialists that he would be their obedient servant. When I suggested that SABC radio read Benjamin Pogrund’s book, How Can Man Die Better, I am not oblivious of the shortcomings in the book such as Pogrund bringing into sharp focus the story of the PAC the organisation for which Sobukwe gave his life and the fact that on Robben Island conditions were bad and that PAC members were treated harsher than those of the ANC. I have already mentioned in Mayihlome that Japhta Masemola spent 9 years in solitary confinement. Johnson Mlambo was buried up to the neck in a dug up hole and white warders urinated on his head. It is upon us to tell that story. Although Pogrund was a close friend of Sobukwe, as a white person he has prejudices against the PAC just like the majority of white people. Which brings us to the role of the current PAC leadership and members to grow the membership of the PAC to become a formidable organisation instead of engaging in petty squabbles and factionalism. The ANC and the imperialist world are dead set to destroy the PAC through many ways including using state organs like NIA and the IEC and amassing money to perpetuate itself in power through a fund-raising outfit called Chancellor House which has a stake in a Japanese company known as Hitachi which won billions of rands in a tender to supply Eskom with generators. Has the PAC leadership condemned this blatant conflict of interest exercise?There is also the US’s High-frequency Active Auroral Research Programme (HAARP) which US Air Force documents revealed that it has been developed for manipulating and disturbing human mental processes through pulsed radio-frequency radiation over large geographical areas. There could be negative effects on human health and thinking. The mental-disturbing possibilities for HAARP are the most disturbing. Could this programme have been used to influence the South African human cattle to vote for the corrupt and good-for-nothing ANC coupled with rigging elections? Students of science should look into this new technology which has also been used to generate earthquakes such as the one that hit Haity, Venezuela, Honduras and Chile. That technology exists and uses plasma, tesla technology and shock wave bombs. When I write to South African newspapers that Haiti was hit by a man-made earthquake, they rejected my articles. They waste an inordinate amount of time bombarding us with chaff about Nelson Mandela and other irrelevant stuff instead of educating us about issues of interest to us.

  5. In the comment posted earlier today in the sentence where I wrote about Pogrund’s shortcomings, I omitted the word ‘failure’. The sentence should read, “I am not oblivious of the shortcomings in the book such as Pogrund’s failure to bring into sharp focus the story of the PAC…”

  6. Winnie Madikizela Mandela confirmed in an interview with a British newspaper, the Evening Standard what PAC leaders like Zephania Mothopeng and Japhta Masemola said before that Nelson Mandela has sold out Africans. Sobukwe was prophetic and incisive when in 1948 addressing nurses who had completed their studies said: “Watch our movements keenly and if you see any signs of ‘broadmindedness’ or ‘reasonableness’ in us, or if you hear us talk of practical experience as a modifier of man’s views, denounce us as traitors to Africa”. This describes exactly what Mandela did. Let us denounce Nelson Mandela and the ANC as traitors to Africa.

  7. I have met and been interviewed by many of the journalists of the past decades preceding South Africa’s first “Free Elections”. And No, I did not spend any time with the “enlightened” Liberals of South Africa – for I saw them as being privileged – able to afford to be outspoken … to a point. I went through the revolutionary paths of BPC (BCM) SASO, ANC and PAC and so had a first hand experience of being “in the trenches”.

    Three years in detention – some of it in solitary confinement ensured that I would not/could not ever be anything different from what I became during those accumulative years of being in “The Struggle”.

    South African Elections – 1994: It is obvious (expected) that many compromises were entered into was pretty obvious. FW de Klerk was no “enlightened” soul and knew what he was doing – and for who’s ultimate benefit.

    Madiba – just like Obama have spent so much time dwelling on compromise and conciliation – afraid to rock the boat … not progress.

    During my first stint in exile (Lesotho) I was elected as Secretary of the Refugee Committee where the “collective” membership comprised of ANC and PAC cadré’s. I thus got to get a much better feel as to who my fellow revolutionaries were and came to respect Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe all the more.

    For me: We may have won the Elections but have failed miserably in the path of creating empowerment to the masses … for they still remain as far from viewing the New South Africa – the “Rainbow Nation” … as it is absent …


  8. I wish to know that people like Steve Biko,Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe are their Souls rest in Peace while the land of African People still in the hands of white afrikaner minorty?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: