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Celebrating Sobukwe’s 90th birthday

Summary & Comment: The founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, an opposition to South Africa under apartheid would have been 90 this year, in his inaugural 1959 speech he said: “The Europeans are a foreign minority group, which has exclusive control of political, economic, social and military power. It is the dominant group. It is the exploiting group, responsible for the pernicious doctrine of White Supremacy, which has resulted in the humiliation, and degradation of the indigenous African people. It is this group which has dispossessed the African people of their land and with arrogant conceit has set itself up as the "guardians", the "trustees" of the Africans." Robert Sobukwe was a South African Pan Africanist. MM

Author: Motsoko Pheko Date Written: 4 December 2014
Primary Category: Profiles Document Origin: Pambazuka News, Issue 705
Secondary Category: Southern Region Source URL: http://www.pambazuka.net/
Key Words: Robert Sobukwe, South Africa, Robben Island

African Charter Article #4: Everyone's life and integrity are inviolable. (Click for full text...)

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5 December marks the 90th birthday of revolutionary anti-apartheid icon and pan-Africanist Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe. This tribute is an introduction to a new book on him.

Photo: cc PZ

Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe (in the middle) visited in Robben Island Prison by the apartheid colonialist regime’s members of parliament. They had come to check if they could make him compromise the genuine liberation of the African people. After this visit, one of them told the apartheid parliament in Cape Town, “I asked Sobukwe, have you considered changing your ideology? He replied, ‘Not until the day of the resurrection.’”

This piece of writing is dedicated to Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe, that shining star of the African liberation struggle of South Africa and the African continent. That brutally persecuted and severely tested leader who passed the revolutionary test with unparalleled distinction. This is a Pan Africanist that walked the political talk to the finish with astounding patriotism.

He was born on the 5th of December 1924. This 5th of December 2014 is Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe’s 90th Birthday anniversary. Great nations do not forget their heroes nor do they adopt a sectarian attitude towards them. This piece of writing is to remind of Sobukwe’s legacy and to pass it on to this generation and to generations of Africa to come.

Photo: cc PZ

Sobukwe, President of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) dying in Kimberly where the apartheid regime had banished him and declared him a banned person to have no gathering with more than three persons without the regime’s permission. This was after his imprisonment on Robben Island where pieces of glass were often found in his food, according to his wife’s statement, Mrs Zodwa Veronica Sobukwe, before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Sobukwe’s liberation credentials speak for themselves. They do not need any explanation. This is the only leader in the entire history of the liberation struggle in South Africa who was imprisoned on Robben Island without even a mock trial. He was kept in solitary confinement and then banned and banished to Kimberly to die there.

In Robben Island Prison, the apartheid colonialist regime ordered that he should be guarded by five guards with two fierce Alsatian dogs. Of him, the apartheid Minister of Justice John Vorster said, “If…Robert Sobukwe were released, we would have a fine [penalty] to pay in this country.”

This “ Defier of the Undefiable” exposed the struggle of fighting both “white domination” and “black domination” as a myth. The authors of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade sold black people like animals. They were not black.

European countries through the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 grabbed the African Continent at gunpoint. They sliced it like a wedding cake and partitioned it among themselves, into “British Africa,” “French Africa,” “Portuguese Africa,” “Spanish Africa,” “German Africa;” leaving nothing for Africans until millions of Africans died for their freedom to regain Africa.

Somalia, on the horn of Africa had the misfortune of becoming “Italian Somaliland,” “French Somaliland” and “British Somaliland.” These colonialists were not black. There has been no “black domination” in the world.

It is therefore a grave political delusion for any African leader to claim to have fought an evil that never existed. Apartheid was itself a product of racism that came not from black people. It was not a product of “black domination.” It was a creation of “white domination” stemming from the superstition and unscientific theories of unschooled authors of the idolatry of “white supremacy.”

Sobukwe is a leader who spoke the language of true African liberation. He never called a spade a big teaspoon. The land dispossessors of the African people recognised this fact. To stop him from achieving genuine liberation for his people, the apartheid regime made a special law to govern him. They called it “Sobukwe clause.” Much more is said and revealed in the book titled SOBUKWE LED THE ROAD TO ROBBEN ISLAND.

Freedom is not free. The price of freedom is selfless service, suffering and sacrifice. Sobukwe was prepared to go to Robben Island Prison so that the people of this country that are robbed of their land and its riches may repossess them and control the economy of their country equitably. Indeed, “liberation” of a land dispossessed people without repossessing its wealth is a gigantic colonial fraud.