THE 50TH ANNIVESARY OF SHARPVILLE-LANGA MASSACRE

On March 21 this year, the PAC will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre. On the 6th April last year, the PAC’s 50th anniversary was rather a damb squib. After two weeks, the organization’s performance at the polls was dismal. The blame for the dismal performance can’t rest squarely on the lap of the party. There are some factors that engender this poor performance, chief among which is the illegal use by the ruling party of state organs to infiltrate and destroy the PAC, skewed political party funding and a tendentious Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). In addition, the ruling party is using covert and overt methods to try to obliterate the PAC physically from our collective psyche.

On March 21 this year, the PAC will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre. On the 6th April last year, the PAC’s 50th anniversary was rather a damb squib. After two weeks, the organization’s performance at the polls was dismal. The blame for the dismal performance can’t rest squarely on the lap of the party. There are some factors that engender this poor performance, chief among which is the illegal use by the ruling party of state organs to infiltrate and destroy the PAC, skewed political party funding and a tendentious Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). In addition, the ruling party is using covert and overt methods to try to obliterate the PAC physically from our collective psyche.

The ruling party underplays the role the PAC and its leaders, played in our struggle for liberation. As care taker president last year, Kgalema Motlanthe spoke on March 21 in Kimberley, a day brought about by Robert Sobukwe and the PAC, but never once did he mention that Sobukwe was banished by the Apartheid government to Kimberley. Moreover, every year since the 1990’s, members of the ANC desecrate March 21 and try to appropriate the history of the PAC. They flood the media with advertisements and litter lamp posts with posters of musicians who will be performing at government sponsored March 21 bashes. The ruling party also bastardized March 21 by renaming it Human Rights Day in order to obfuscate its historical significance and association with the PAC. Originally, the PAC named March 21,Sharpeville Day.

At war with itself coupled with a gullible and an obsequiously fawning media that is sucking up to the ANC, the PAC appears helpless to rectify this crude falsification of its history as well as take ownership of March 21. The more time goes by, the more the PAC undergoes attrition instead of using its five decades of existence to consolidate itself. Consequently, some members and supporters of the PAC are filled with despair. However, they should never lose hope but take ownership of their organization in order to reclaim its glorious
past.

In addition to the 50th anniversary of Sharpeville-Langa massacres, April and October this year will further mark the 20th anniversaries of the deaths of Jeff Masemola and Zeph Mothopeng respectively. 2010 is certainly an important year for the PAC and we shouldn’t allow the FIFA Soccer World Cup competition to overshadow the PAC’s historic events.

Jeff Masemola is the longest serving political prisoner on Robben Island in modern history. He spent 28 full years on the Robben Island. After being betrayed by some ANC prisoners who reported him to the prison authorities for designing a master key that could open all the prison doors on Robben Island, he spent nine years in solitary confinement. Prior to being imprisoned on Robben Island, Masemola was a teacher at Banareng Primary School in Atteridgeville, Pretoria. Masemola died in a mysterious car accident on 19 April 1990. He was uncompromising on the return of stolen land to its rightful owners.

Zeph Mothopeng is a founding member of both the ANCYL, the PAC and a former President of the PAC. As President of the Transvaal African Teachers Association (TATA) which is now known as the Professional Educators Union (PEU), he fought relentlessly against the introduction of Bantu Education in 1951 until he was expelled. He was incarcerated on Robben Island in the early 1960 for taking part in the anti-pass campaign. At the conclusion of the Bethal Trial, in 1978, in which he was accused number one, Mothopeng was sentenced to 30 years, for his role in the 1976 Soweto uprising, part of which he spent on Robben Island. Uncle Zeph started teaching at Orlando High School in 1941 and in 1946 became Vice Principal. It was at the same year that he got his BA through Unisa. In the 1940’s, the indefatigable freedom fighter and intellectual fought for better working conditions for African teachers.

By Sam Ditshego

5 thoughts on “THE 50TH ANNIVESARY OF SHARPVILLE-LANGA MASSACRE

  1. For purposes of getting the historical record right for posterity, Japhta Masemola died on the 17th April 1990 not on the 19th April as I have written. The car in which he was travelling was involved in a collision with a truck, according to Sydney Moses in the Sunday Times of April 22, 1990. Who was the driver of that truck? Who owned it? What was its registration number? What happened to the truck driver? Where is he now as we are exactly a month away from commemorating the 20th anniversary of the mysterious death of one of the foremost leaders of the Pan Africanist Congress? Did he appear in court to face the charge of murder? Which court? Was he ever arrested? At which Police Station: was he charged Who were the arresting and ivestigating officers?One of the senior politicians in Tanzania died in a car accident in Tanzania and the driver who was in the vehicle that killed that senior politician was allegedly an ANC exile. Sabelo Phama died under similar circumstances in Tanzania. Could the deaths of Masemola and Phama have an ANC-National Party-SACP hand parties to the secretive Groote Schuur sell out deal?

  2. Fellow Africans

    I’m based in Midrand and i want to know if there are any arrangements made to commemorate this year Sharpville Day. Kindly advise.

  3. this is disturbing’ jeff masemola deserves more credit as everyone thinks nelson mandela was the longest serving prisoners

  4. I say this with great appreciation to the contribution and sacrifice done by the PAC movement and PAN Africanists everywhere as a whole.

    However my fellow Africans we have lost focus on our objectives and enemy(If I should say). We seem to have more energy on blame shifting and finger pointing than anything else.

    We can say ‘Mayibuye iAfrica’ & ‘power to the people’ and all other cliches(yes they have become cliches), but not facing the truth and taking responsibility for the situation we in, we not going anywhere.

    1. The first truth is nobody else outside is responsible for PAC collapse (this also applies for African nations too) but itself. People do need an alternative and it doesn’t seem like the best. COPE proved the point from its burst of climbing on the political to its present disorganisation due to internal conflict (PAC syndrome) .
    2. Nation rebuilding and education from all spectrum (human values,academic to Political etc) should have to be the main focus at present stage rather than who deserves the accolades and recognition. Naming streets, days, heroes is necessary but not a priority. I agree that the significance of sharpeville day(though Human rights day is more suitable in my opinion) is reduced to a bash(unless maybe the fight was for us to be having fun times like this then, mission accomplished)
    3. We should get this into our heads that nobody owes anybody anything (the present youth never made a pact with the previous one). From what I understand the fight was about a condition not privelleges. If according to the freedom fighter the condition is fulfilled then that is his reward. If it is not, then the awarding will be premature dont you think? How many years a person spent on Robben Island or family relations doesn’t constitute a position in a prominent seat. Merits, able people with conviction and will, deserve the seat(this applies to the ruling party).
    4. Venezuela, China etc are example of countries that are goal orientated inspite of internal challenges and outside interferences. What is, our Goal?
    My disposition to the topic might have digressed a bit but I feel its relevant in that this should be a day where we reflect of how far our project of our African goal is, identify the challenges and project solutions and timeframe until the next progress review.

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