“And, therefore, we the people of South Africa,” proclaims the ultimate clause, “black and white together – equals, countrymen and brothers – adopt this Freedom Charter.”
To them master and slave – exploiter and the exploited, the oppressor and the oppressed, the degrader and the degraded – are all equals. To them indigenous African nationals and immigrant European foreign nationals – the dispossessed and their dispossessors, the victims and their robbers – are all countrymen. For them the progressive and the reactionary – the African subject and his overlord, the African nationalist and the colonialist or white supremacist, the liberationist and the collaborationist – are all brothers.
The problem of the synthesis of opposites cannot be resolved by the wave of the magic wand. It is only after all these sets of antithetical categories have been duly reconciled that we can truly reach those final categories – equals, countrymen and brothers – which betray no instability. Such ultimate reconciliation is possible only in Africanism, the final synthesis of these categories which the Africanist manifesto defines as “the social force which upholds the material and spiritual interests of the individual”.
In the Kliptown Charter the word ‘freedom’ does find mention in the title, but barely in the actual text. The Charter does not speak of independence or self-determination, and does not mention African nationalism or white domination. It does, however, speak of the “abolition of fenced locations”, entrenching by implication the invisible fences that surround Roosevelt Park and Orchards, symbols of white privilege and prerogative.
Charterists aver that African nationalism is a “wave of black chauvinism, provoked by the savagery of the Nationalist Party”. They proceed to allege that “it is perhaps secretly encouraged and financed by that party”.
Official Africanist literature sufficiently refutes the charge of the Africanists being either chauvinistic or racialist. Suffice it to say the Africanists attach no political significance to the biological make-up of any people: but they do attach a great deal of such significance to the control of material and spiritual interests.
There is no truth in the charge that Africanists are encouraged and financed by the Nationalist Party. Barely a fortnight after the emergence of the Pan Africanist Congress and the release of its policy and programme, two Nationalist cabinet ministers, Mr. Swart and Dr Hertzog, condemned it as a hot-bed of ‘the most dangerous and poisonous agitators in the country’. When the Bantustan Bill came before parliament, it is common knowledge that the Charterists only opposed it because they could never countenance the balkanization of their country by foreigners.
“Another spectacular result of our Inaugural Africanist Convention,” comments the June 1959 issue of ‘The Africanist,’ “has been the shameless theft by the Charterist Congress of the programme and slogans of PAC.” After Mr. Luthuli had publicly stated on the eve of the Accra Conference that our struggle here was not for independence or self-determination, but equal rights, the African Day issue of ‘New Age’ came out with the unbelievable statement that “we are against white domination, we demand the right of self-determination”. Who are against white domination? Who want self-determination? For whom?
The Charterists have also stated that they will not bail or defend arrested people in their campaigns. How does this compare with the slogan of “No Bail, No Defense, No Fine” announced by our President Mangaliso Sobukwe in the closed session of the Pan Africanist Congress immediately after his election?
Charterists stand exposed as the self-confessed lackeys and flunkeys of the white ruling class and the Indian merchant class.
The Charterists deny that the 1949 Programme of Action is an Africanist programme, and assert that “it is a regular Congress document, adopted at a national conference on the initiative of the Congress leadership.”
In the July-September 1959 issue of “Africa South,” Stanley Trapido states: “The ANC Youth League, influenced by some of the radical conceptions of the All African Convention, provided an important pressure group within the ANC; as a result of its activities, the AC adopted its now famous ‘Programme of Action'”. Over-anxious to conceal all tracks of their “gravitation towards multi-racial liberalism,” the Charterists must falsify history. The preamble to that Programme speaks the language of the Africanists. It speaks of “national freedom,” “independence” and “white domination”, all of which concepts are taboo in Charterists circles. Small wonder that the Charterists cannot afford to quote it.
“The fundamental principles of the Programme of Action,” proclaim the preamble, “are inspired by the desire to achieve national freedom. By national freedom we mean freedom from white domination and the attainment of political independence .”
Such is the declaratory statement introducing this Programme, this setting out of a series of tactical weapons such as boycotts, civil disobedience campaigns, non-cooperation activities and national stoppages of work. This Programme is Africanist both in spirit and letter.
The genesis and history of the ANC Youth League shows why the Programme is what it is and why the PAC is the real off-shoot of the ANC, both on the ideological and political planes.
The ANC Youth League was born at a meeting held at the Domestic and Cultural Workers’ Club Hall in Diagonal Street, Johannesburg, in October 1943; a meeting convened and presided over by the present writer. Soon afterwards, the League released a manifesto and adopted a basic policy which declared its aims and objects to be, inter alia: