TIRO CONFRONT APARTHEID SETTLER COLONIALISM!

Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Vice Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to start off by borrowing language from our former Prime Minister, Mr. Vorster. Addressing an Afrikaner Student Bond (A.S.B) Congress in June last year, Mr. Vorster said: “No Black man has landed in trouble for fighting for what is legally his”. Although I don’t know how far true this is, I make this statement my launch pad.

R.D. Briensmead, an American lay preacher says “he who withholds the truth or debars men from motives of its expediency, is either a coward, a criminal or both”. Therefore Mr. Chancellor, I will try as much as possible to say nothing else but the truth. And to me “truth” means “practical reality”.

Tiro, Abram Onkgopotse (1947-1974)

Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Vice Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to start off by borrowing language from our former Prime Minister, Mr. Vorster. Addressing an Afrikaner Student Bond (A.S.B) Congress in June last year, Mr. Vorster said: “No Black man has landed in trouble for fighting for what is legally his”. Although I don’t know how far true this is, I make this statement my launch pad.

R.D. Briensmead, an American lay preacher says “he who withholds the truth or debars men from motives of its expediency, is either a coward, a criminal or both”. Therefore Mr. Chancellor, I will try as much as possible to say nothing else but the truth. And to me “truth” means “practical reality”.

Addressing us on the occasion of the formal opening of this university Mr. Phatudi, a Lebowa territorial authority officer, said that in as much as there is American Education, there had to be Bantu Education. Ladies and gentlemen, I am conscientiously bound to differ with him. In America there is nothing like R.D. Briensmead, Red Indian Education and White American Education. They have American Education common to all Americans. But in South Africa, we have Bantu Education, Indian Education, Colored Education and European Education. We do not have a system of education common to all South Africans. What is there in European education which is not good for the African? We want a system of education which is common to all South Africans.

In theory Bantu Education gives our parents a say in our education but in practice the opposite is true. At this University, University Education Diploma (U.E.D) students are forced to study Philosophy of the Education through the medium of Afrikaans. When we want to know why, we are told that the Senate has decided so. Apparently this Senate is our parents.

Time and again I ask myself how Black lecturers contribute to the administration of this university. For if you look at all committees,they are predominantly white, if not completely white. Here and there one finds two or three Africans who, in the opinion of students are white Black men. We have a Students’ Dean without duties. We feel that if it is in anyway necessary to have a Students’ Dean, we must elect our own Dean. We know people who can represent us.

6 thoughts on “TIRO CONFRONT APARTHEID SETTLER COLONIALISM!

  1. I listened to the radio and watched tv none of them except Motsweding FM’s Mphatlhalatsane talk show programme hosted by Ms Mokopi Molebatsi talked about the anniversary of Onkgopotse Tiro The same is true with mainstream newspaper although I sent an article about Tiro to Sowetan a week before the 1st of February. When is Hani’s anniversary all these tendentious media outlets never miss to report about it and some of them even carry a big photo of Hani. Motsweding FM’s current affairs programme called Boresetse did a piece on the anniversary of Slovo but today didn’t do anything on Tiro. They can commemorate the anniversary of a white man who came to this country with his parents from Lithuania in 1936 at the age of 10 but they can’t commemorate the death of a son of the soil who died for us. This tendentious attitude is reflected in Nelson Mandela’s book Long Walk to Freedom in which he wrote that he was saddened by the death by a parcel bomb of Ruth First, Slovo’s wife but said absolutely nothing about Tiro. Yet Tiro was killed long before First. After I criticised Mandela in a book review in January 1995 before Tiro was exhumed he went to Tiro’s grave in Gaborone in 1996 to assuage his conscience. In that book Mandela talks ill of the Black Consciousness Movement and the Pan Africanist Congress. The same is true with the late Oliver Tambo in his book Preparing for Power: Oliver Tambo Speaks.. Quotes Tiro saidwith which to remember him are: “It is better to die for an idea that will live than to live for an idea that will die”. “No struggle can come to an end without casualties”. “Our political leaders have become the bolts of the same machine that is grinding us as a nation”. The student leaders who led the June 16, 1976 uprising like Tsietsi Mashinini, Khotsf Seatlholo and Hastings Ndlovu, the first victim of the 1976 uprising, were proteges of Tiro. He taught at Morris Isaacson High School in Soweto.

  2. It’s unfortunate that when it comes to the history of the liberation of Azania, the ruling party and all its liberal institutions have chosen to have selective memory wherein they remember only those who they wish to regardless of struggle contribution. And where they have failed to silence the memory of the people, as we see in the case of Steve Biko they have colonized his legacy and now he is presented as if he was a member of the ANC(A party he disagree with all his life, ideologically and otherwise). As it is today, freedom in Azania seems to have been achieved through the effort of one man, who was in prison for 27 years(implying that the millions of Africans out of prison where helpless)and his party(as if there where no other liberation movements).
    This problem is further entrenched in society because the so called Mandela generation of 1990 has been fed a highly re-engineered history as part of their school curriculum. So it remains the responsibility of all conscious Africans to preserve the memory of the liberation of Azania, lest we forget.

  3. We remember comrade Tiro and thank you all for keeping his memory alive.

    It’s always ever so interesting and humbling yet challenging to learn about the comrades who laid down their lives for our freedom.

    I just recently learnt about Gert sibande and the Potatoe strike via Mbongeni Ngema’s LION OF THE EAST.

    We trust that the older generation by that I mean those born before 1980, will continue educating us about our unsung heroes so that we may salute them and keep their memories alive.

    My vision for Africa right now is for us to truly unite in our deeds and speeches.
    The division amongst us is growing wider and wider, politically and socially.

    Norma Shabane

  4. It is silly to ascribe the liberation of our people to only one man when he was not there when Africans kings waged wars of resistance. He was not even born when the ANC was formed. He couldn’t surpass Anton Lembede, Robert Sobukwe, Zeph Mothopeng and AP Mda with intelligence and analyses. I don’t want this to degenerate to polemics but the owners of the mainstream media must be told where to get off or to go and tell it to the birds that only one man liberated us. There are even far greater freedom fighters like Dedan Kimathi of the Mau Mau in Kenya whom young men and women should learn about. February is also celebrated as Black History month in the US, Canada, Britain and where there are people of African origin. It is the month in which three other heroes died which we shall about in due cause. Men who changed the course of history – Cheikh Anta Diop (7 February 1986), Malcolm X (21 February 1965( and Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe (27 February 1978). WEB Dubois was born on 23 February 1868 and died in Ghana on 27 August 1963. Marcus Garvey was born on 17 August 1887 and died on 10 June 1940. Sol Plaatjie died on 19 June 1932 and was born in 1875. You will probably be taught about this in this country.

  5. I phoned Tim Modise’s After Eight radio today and raised two points viz, that the SABC didn’t report about Tiro. They had youth reps of the ruling party, the DA, and a white young man from the IFP or one these white parties. My second point was that since the parent organisations of PAYCO (PAC) and Azayo (AZAPO) youth formations participated in our struggle for liberation, they should have included them in the national debates concerning the liberation struggle. I directed my criticism at the producess and not Tim Modise. These SABC producers and managers do not understand that the SABC is a public broadcaster. It is not the property of the ANC.

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