I knew M-Afrika Zolile Hamilton Keke when he became the PAC Representative in London in 1985. I worked closely with him until I went to the United Nations in New York to represent the victims of apartheid and colonialism there. I am deeply saddened about his so unexpected early departure from this planet. I convey my profound condolences to his wife, children, the entire Keke family and relatives and, of course to our comrades-in- arms in the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and to all fighters for genuine liberation in Azania whose people are still dispossessed of their land as in the Native Land Act 1913 which is now entrenched in Section 25 (7) of the Eurocentric constitution of so-called ‘New South Africa’.
Hamilton Keke belongs to a rare breed of African revolutionaries in this country, too many to mention. They include our Kings who led the anti-colonial Battles of Thaba Bosiu, Sandile’s Kop, Keiskama Hoek, Isandlwana, Blood River and in numerous other battlefields “where they fell before the bullets of the foreign invader,” as the Defier of the Undefiable, Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe would put it.
Zolile Keke was there when the Apartheid colonial Commission of Judge Snyman set up to investigate POQO, the armed wing of the Pan Africanist Congress, said, “I do not want to create the impression of despair by what I have said, but the Pan Africanist Congress is a cancer in our community. It must not be allowed to develop.”
Keke was a member of POQO, the first military wing to wage the armed struggle in South Africa, 55 years after the venerated Chief Bambatha had done in 1905. Of this POQO Uprising, Prof. Tom Lodge has written, “The military wing of PAC, POQO not only inspired activities in South Africa, but the PAC insurgents were very much numerous than Mkhonto of the ANC…in terms of geographical extensiveness, the numbers involved and the time span. The POQO conspiracies represent the largest and most sustained insurrection in South Africa in modern times.”
Tom Lodge concluded, “The persistence of the movement over a relatively long time span and over a large geographical area, qualifies POQO to lay claim to being the most sustained insurrection by Blacks in South Africa in modern times.”
Cde Keke was among the earliest political prisoners to be imprisoned on Robben Island for his POQO activities. He served time with PAC leaders such as Sobukwe, Masemola, Ngendane, Pokela etc. But on release from Robben Island he was again in action for repossession of his fatherland. He was later charged with the Soweto Uprising of 16 June 1976. He was with Uncle Zephania Mothopeng and 16 other PAC members.
Hamilton Zolile Keke was there when Judge Curlewis of the Supreme Court of South Africa said, “You Mothopeng acted to sow seeds of revolution. The riots you organised and predicted eventually took place in Soweto on 16 June and at Kagiso the next day. Keke was the youngest accused in that court.
He was there when this Supreme Court Judge added, “And then, the last thing I want to mention here is that Pan Africanism is the goal of the PAC….They propagate and promote the concept of Pan Africanism….From the beginning, throughout its existence the aims of the Pan Africanist Congress were radical in the sense that they strove for fundamental change.”
Cde Hamilton Zolile Keke was sitting in that apartheid court for repossession of our land when he was sentenced to a suspended five- year imprisonment on condition he was to stop taking part in a banned organisation, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.
But soon after this he accepted the PAC assignment to go and represent in London this Pan African Movement of Sobukwe, Nkrumah, Lumumba, Sekou Toure and Modibo Keita.
In London he was a hard-working representative in a very difficult and hostile terrain where the British Anti-Apartheid Movement was a sworn enemy of the PAC. The PAC had rejected the Freedom Cheater of the rival organisation which had betrayed the land question. When the apartheid colonialist regime of F.W. de Klerk offered to “negotiate” with the liberation movements, de Klerk’s Constitutional Affairs Minister said: “We want to change our approach. But we would be negotiating even the name. Many Blacks want to call South Africa AZANIA. They are the extreme Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). The name Azania sounds a warning note of a break in history. In our thinking, a complete break in history would be unacceptable. We will have to provide some continuation of the past.”
Cde Keke never compromised his politics and exchanged them for suicidal national politics of the stomach. He was never a summer soldier. He was never a political turncoat. He has died with his vows for genuine liberation of Azania unbroken.
Incidents such as the massacre of miners in Marikana, clearly demonstrate that the 1994 “Freedom,” “the miracle,” and the “rainbow nation” are a myth which have taken the magnanimity of African people for imbecility. There is resistance to equitable redistribution of land and its resources according to numbers. There is a two nation-syndrome in “New South Africa” – one extremely rich and European minority and one extremely poor and 80% indigenous African majority of the country.
Zolile Hamilton Keke knew that a nation without land and its riches is a dying nation. Where are our Khoisan brothers and sisters? Where are the Aborigines of Australia? No nation can depend on jobs only from others. Possession of land and its resources is imperative. Charity can never fill the granary, says an African proverb. The Native Land Act 1913, now called section 25 of the constitution must go!
Farewell Comrade Keke. You have served the Azanian revolution with distinction. Rest peacefully. Be always with us spiritually. Izwe Lethu!
By Dr. Motsoko Pheko
The writer is a historian, political scientist, lawyer, theologian and author of several books among which is SOUTH AFRICA: BETRAYAL OF A COLONISED PEOPLE. During the anti-colonial apartheid struggle, he was a Representative of the victims of apartheid at the United Nations in New York, as well as at the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. He was a Member of Parliament in Cape Town for ten years. His writings are popularly known as “BOOKS THAT REVEAL HIDDEN KNOWLEDGE.” He can be contacted on cellphone number 0761414204.