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The Long Walk to Freedom is an invaluable source of information on the political history of South Africa and the ANC although it is fraught with ethnic and organizational biases. If Mandela is a leader of all people of South Africa, he should transcend these tendencies. For example, those unfamiliar with the South African life may end up thinking that Xhosas and Zulus are the major inhabitants of South Africa, as one reviewer recently did.
The African anthem which translates as God Bless Africa has both the Sesotho version (Morena Boloka Sechaba sa Afrika) and Nguni version but nowhere in the book does Mandela refer to this anthem in its Sesotho name. Mandela himself is an Nguni speaker. In fact, during the raising of South Africa’s new flag, only the Nguni version of this song was sung, followed by the settler colonialists’ anthem Die Stem.
Although the book is an invaluable source of information on some aspects of South African history, it has some historical inaccuracies. For example, Mandela writes that gold was discovered in 1886 on the Witwatersrand (p 55). In fact, South Africa has the earliest gold, iron and copper mines in the world going back to thousands of years.
Mandela claims that the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania is ‘anti-white’ (p 264) and criticizes the Black Consciousness Movement for excluding whites (p 422). Some of the criticism Mandela leveled at the PAC are ridiculous and border on the absurd. For instance he writes: “Their actions were motivated more by a desire to eclipse the ANC than to defeat the enemy” (p 206). Mandela also claims the views and behaviour of the PAC are immature. The philosophy of Black Consciousness according to Mandela is also immature and he also labels one of the greatest African leaders of African descent, Marcus “Mosiah” Garvey as an extremist. Garvey is at the same time described as an African hero.
The forerunner of APLA, POQO is described as “irresponsible” and labeled “terrorists” (p 295). But nowhere does Mandela label the white supremacist terror group Afrikaner Weestandbeweging (AWB). Instead he refers to them as a “militant right-wing” group (p 530).
Mandela writes that he was saddened by the bombing to death in Mozambique of Ruth First, Joe Slovo’s widow but never mentioned anything about Onkgopotse Ramothibi Tiro let alone his tragic bombing by white South African agents in 1974 in Botswana. Tiro, a founding member of the Black Consciousness Movement, was probably the first South African to be parcel bombed and the first martyr of the Black Consciousness Movement. There is also no mention of Bantu Biko or the cruel way in which his life was ended in a South African jail. Biko was one of the founding members of the Black Consciousness Movement.
Sons and daughters of the soil, let me acknowledge with thanks your kind invitation to address this august gathering of pan africanists.
To the Pan Africanist Youth of today
It is now 35 years since the Soweto Youth Uprising hit the land of Azania, the world and ushered in a new phase in the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed masses of Azania. The focus of the uprising as we know was to challenge the racist forces of apartheid and colonialism and to call to a halt the attempt to enslave the mind of the African youth.
Lest we forget, it is important to set the record straight because we are aware that there is a concerted effort to distort the history of our struggle at every opportunity particularly since 1994. So much so an informed mind will think that the Soweto youth uprising was triggered by the brutal death of the young hector Peterson at the hands of the racist police whereas the fact is that youth resistance against Bantu Education and the apartheid state had been simmering long before 1976.
The Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) had been building strength on the campuses of our universities for years since 1967 with a straight confrontation between the black students and the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS). The mergence of SASO and its revolutionary stance on campuses shook the pillars of apartheid and it was clear that there was no going back for the black youths. The black power salute was visible both in the rural and urban areas as black consciousness surfaced with anger and frustration in the 1970’s.
The founding fathers of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania have bequeathed to us a vibrant organization which we are reducing to ruins through selfishness and factional battles.
I have read David James Smith’s book, Young Mandela and the book confirmed what I have repeatedly written that there is no organization that the ANC fears more than the PAC. If there are those who doubt the veracity of the foregoing statement then they must go and read Young Mandela. Moreover, the book confirms that the PAC and the founding President of the ANCYL Anton Muziwakhe Lembede were always right on the question of Africans being on the forefront of and leading the struggle for liberation.
The 23rd October 2010 marked the twentieth anniversary of the death of Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) founding member and its second President, Zephaniah Lekoane Mothopeng. He was fondly known as “Uncle Zeph” and “The Lion of Azania” because of his uncompromising and non-collaborationist stance. Zephaniah Mothopeng is one of those great African thinkers and intrepid freedom fighters whose contribution to our struggle for liberation has not been acknowledged the way it is supposed to be.
Uncle Zeph was also a founding member of the Congress Youth League in 1943 with Anton Lembede, Ashby Peter Mda and those we always hear about in the media. Born in the Free State on 10 September 1913, he attended Primary school there and completed High School in St. Peters, Rosettenville in 1937 where he was three grades ahead of the late Professor Eskia Mphahlele. As fate would have it, they also worked together as teachers at Orlando High School and later expelled together in 1952 and went to teach in Lesotho.
Jafta Kgalabi Masemola – “The Tiger of Azania” also popularly known as “Bra Jeff” by many others, was born at Bon Accord near Pretoria on the 12th December 1931. He lost both his parents at an early age and was raised by his sister like one of her own children. The family moved to Marabastad and then to Atteridgeville in 1942 where he enrolled at De Jong Primary School and completed standard six in 1947. He proceeded to Hofmeyr Secondary School where he obtained a Junior Certificate in 1950. Then he went to Kilnerton Training Institution (KTI) where he did his Higher Primary or Teacher’s Training Certificate.
His first teaching post was in Atteridgeville where he worked on a temporary basis until he got a permanent post at Mmakau Primary School (Rama) in Western Transvaal . In 1956 he returned to Atteridgeville to teach at Banareng Primary School where Mr. Rammopo Makhudu was principal. In 1958 he joined the Youth League of the African National Congress. He was impressed by the vigorous politics of the principal. In 1959 he joined the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania at its inception and thus became one of its founding leaders. His Africanist politics influenced the school children and some his colleagues. As a result some of his pupils became members of the PAC when they got to high schools and were later incarcerated with him on Robben Island in 1963.
After the banning of the PAC on April 8, 1960 under the Unlawful Organizations Act, Jafta Masemola continued with underground activities. He and other operatives formed underground structures that were planning an armed revolt in 1963; to this effect they gathered whatever weapons they could put their hands on for the planned uprising. The state security police uncovered these activities and Jafta Masemola and other underground activists were arrested during a swoop on PAC-Poqo suspects on the night of March 21st, 1963.