THE MAN WHO FOREVER LOCKED THE JUNE 16 UPRISINGS IN A PICTURE
On 13 May 2018 the world woke up to the sad news of the death of the legendary photojournalist Masana Sam Nzima who died at the age of 83 at a Nelspruit hospital the previous night.
On 16 June 1976 he marched with the Black students armed with a camera as part of his work as a journalist of The World newspaper. As the white racist police started shooting the unarmed Black students with live ammunition, Nzima was shooting the brutal deeds of the police with his live camera. He bought that small Pentax camera with R180.00, and it took him the whole year to pay for it.
That small and harmless camera shot the live embodiment of Black Pain in the image of Makhubu Mbuyisa running in his arms with a 13-year old dying Hector Pieterson who had just been shot by the police. The extent of the grief and gravity of the situation can be seen on the twisted face of Mbuyisa, while Hector’s sister Antoinette is running next to Mbuyisa crying hysterically. A brave Nzima had the focus and calm to shoot 6 pictures in succession amid the flying bullets and crying and falling Black children.
Nzima told The Star in a 2014 interview that:
“A guy with a stick under his arm told the schoolchildren he was giving them three minutes to disperse. The defiant children began singing Nkosi Sikilel’ Afrika before all hell broke loose as the man reached for his gun and began shooting and shouting skiet. I saw Hector Pieterson fall down and Makhubo pick him up. I ran to the scene and took the pictures. Our press car was the nearest vehicle there and they put him inside and took him to Phefeni Clinic. But he was certified dead on arrival.”
The apartheid police spotted Nzima and manhandled him to confiscate the film, but they were too late because he had hidden the film in his sock. The then The World editor Percy Qoboza took a bold decision to go against the apartheid prohibitive laws and published the image, which went viral in the world and gave Nzima instant fame.
That fame became notoriety to the white settler minority regime. Nzima lived under constant police harassment, which resulted in him dropping his job and relocating to the rural Lillydale in Bushbuckridge in the then Eastern Transvaal, which is now Mpumalanga.
Unfortunately for Nzima, the media establishment refused to give him the copyright of the source of his hardships. He fought hard for years until The Star gave him the right in 1998 after the Independent Newspapers Group bought the Argus Group.
AZAPO salutes Masina Sam Nzima for his bravery of keeping heroism of Black militants alive for the future generations. As the flagbearer of the Black Consciousness Movement, AZAPO has continued to fight against many political forces who seek to distort the June 16 Uprisings and erase the overall leadership of the BCM and Steve Biko.
When Biko was asked about the potency of Black Consciousness philosophy, he answered in one word, “Soweto’.
WHY DOES THE WORLD ALLOW THE SLAUGHTER OF THE PALESTINIANS TO CONTINUE?
The Jewish state of Israel celebrated its 70th birthday on May 14. It was on 14 May 1948 that David Ben-Gurion of the Jewish Agency declared that formation of Israel in what was then known as Palestine. The new Jewish state was immediately recognised by United States President Harry Truman.
The United States of America, which has been the greatest supporter of the Jewish state, this week opened its embassy in Jerusalem. By that move, the US essentially recognised the “holy city” as the capital of Israel. The relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was seen by the Palestinian people as a declaration of war. The Palestinian people, through their organisations such as the PLO and Hamas have been waging a protracted struggle to liberate their country from Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
It was to be expected that the Palestinian people would protest against the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem. Though not unexpected, the world was shocked by the extent of the brutal response by the blood-thirsty Israeli security forces. They fired live ammunition at unarmed protestors, killing at least 65 people. More than 2 500 people were wounded after they were attacked by the security forces.
Shocked by the naked brutality of the Israeli security forces, the South African government decided to withdraw its ambassador to Israel with immediate effect.
What is most worrying is not that Israel has unleashed its brute force on civilians who were demanding their right to be free. No. It has been the standard response of the Israelis to suppress any aspiration for self-determination of the Palestinian people. What should worry us is the fact that the world is silent as this slaughter continues.
Since its formation in 1948, Israel has been engaged in land grabs of more Palestinian territories. The world seems to ignore a simple fact – the situation in Palestine is essentially that of land occupation by the Israelis who are supported by the US.
The timing of US right wing Donald Trump to go against international law and unilaterally deliver Jerusalem to the forces of Zionism has everything to do with his scandals and dwindling popularity ratings in the domestic front. Like all the US imperialist leaders do when they are losing political ground at home, Trump has used a strategy of diverting attention away from his scandals and incompetent leadership by wreaking havoc in the world.
However, the hawks in Israel fail to appreciate one simple fact. No amount of force, no matter how brutal, is potent enough to suppress the quest of the people for freedom and liberation. The violence meted out on civilians will only serve to reproduce fearless revolutionaries who will be ready to sacrifice their lives for the liberation of their people. There can never be lasting peace without justice.
ABC OF IMPERIALISM
The word “imperialism” is derived from the Latin word “imperium”, which means “to rule over”. Imperialism is a system whereby another country uses various means such as colonialism, economic power or even war to rule over another country.
Imperialism has also been described as the highest form of capitalism. In other words, when capitalism has reached maturity in the domestic market, it spreads to other countries to create bigger markets. Through various instruments to manipulate and dominate the economy of the colonised country, such as the currency and unfair trade regime, imperialist countries manage to rule over the so-called developing countries.
Examples of leading imperialist nations include the United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan. These countries use their economic muscles to dominate other countries. Many African countries, including our own, are victims of imperialism – a system that maintains the market and political dominance of super-power countries on many countries, especially those in the developing world.
Under imperialism, the imperialist countries acquire raw but valuable commodities from the colonised or the developing countries at extremely cheaper prices, sometimes for free as the companies that are involved in the extraction of those natural resources would be owned by these imperialist countries.
Because the imperialist countries have their economies subsidised by the natural resources from the developing countries mainly in Africa and Latin America, the living standards in the imperialist countries are much higher than in the developing countries. The disparity in the living standards is another factor that fuels imperialism. Highly skilled professionals in Africa are attracted to the imperialist countries.
African countries spend billions of dollars educating professionals such as medical doctors, engineers and accountants only to lose them at their prime because the imperialist would dangle thicker carrots of better pay and better living conditions. That is called brain drain.
The exodus of skilled professionals contributes hugely in keeping many African countries under-developed because those who are supposed to lead the industrial revolutions have left the African continent to advance the economic interests of other countries.
Imperialist countries have perfected the art of robbing Africa of its human resources. During slavery, these countries – mainly America and Britain – were in the forefront of hunting down the best and strongest of the African human resources and shipped them off to the Americas and to Europe. These days, these countries do not have to hunt the best Africans down. They just dangle a thick carrot of a better life and our people would apply for the green card and other forms of citizenships. The imperialist system is tailored in such a way that it selects only the best and most skilled among us.
In order to self-preserve, imperialism also start and ferment wars among the Africans. African countries with rich minerals and other natural resources attract more attention for destabilisation by imperialism. Little wonder that the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola have never known peace.
We must share this information so that we can understand that our poverty as Africans is not an accident of history but a planned outcome by the foreign super powers. But again, as Steve Biko told us, “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”. That is why we can no longer postpone the mental liberation of the Black people.
VOTERS CAN BE WRONG
The business saying that states “the customer is always right” is not true all the time. True. There are times when the customer can be not just wrong but actually reckless too.
In the realm of politics, the voters are to political parties what customers are to business enterprises. Like business enterprises, political parties are trying their best to attract more voters, almost at all costs. In this desperate pursuit of voters, political parties often blame everybody for everything but not the voters. Political parties often turn a blind eye to all the dreadful things that voters do. It is seen as political suicide to take a firm position against what is obviously a wrong decision by the voters.
To keep the argument simple. Let us be specific. We live in a democratic order. People are free to vote for a party of their choice. Granted, our democracy is not perfect but there is free political activity and any party can contest election. Parties present their election manifestos and presumably get elected on the basis of what they promise the electorate. If they fail to deliver, voters can choose to vote the ruling party out of power by voting another party.
This is how things should work in a democracy. But in our case, this is more of a theory than the reality. Many of the voting public appear to be married to the ruling party. They seem to have taken the “for better or for worse” vows when it comes to their political allegiance. They are so loyal to one party that when they are not happy with their party, they proudly declare that they would not vote at all.
But that is not all. There is now evidence that the ruling party, even by its own admission, has largely failed to deliver on the promise of land. After four elections of voting for the same party, and getting the same poor results on the delivery of land to the landless Black people, what do the Black voters do?
During elections, they still vote for the ruling party. And now that they are convinced that the ruling party is not delivering on land, they resort to occupying the land for housing purposes by force. It does not make political sense to vote for a political party that has no political will to Repossess the Land, and still expect the same party to deliver the land to the people by means of Expropriation Without Compensation. It will not happen beyond the empty promises to hypnotise the electorate to vote to retain the ruling party in power.
As AZAPO, we have resisted the temptation of telling voters what they may want to hear but told them the truth. The simple truth is that voters have the power to change their lives. They can use their vote to vote for another party that will deliver on land. Voters should not keep on doing the same thing and hoping for different results. It is about time voters take responsibility for their voting.
AZAPO stands for Land Repossession, and views Expropriation Without Compensation as merely one of the strategies to effect gradual Land Repossession where a radical and revolutionary takeover of state power did not materialise.
The Black Consciousness Movement has held this position for the past 50 years. Every square kilometre of the Azanian Land belongs to the Azanian People. That land includes the land beneath the surface; the air above the land; and the seas surrounding the Azanian Land.
As AZAPO, we choose to be honest and tell the voters the truth. If the voters vote into power a party that is opposed to Land Repossession; and a party that pursues an economic policy that lacks diversity beyond depending on digging and selling raw minerals; an economy based on that strategy is likely to be negatively affected by land struggles geared at forcefully occupying land. Why should the voters condemn themselves and the country to such a vicious cycle of voting for an anti-Land Repossession party, while they forcefully occupy land against the wishes of the ruling party? Why don’t the voters vote once and for all for a pro-Land Repossession revolutionary party and avoid the futile act of imposing an obstacle that they struggle against for their entire lives?
A liberation organisation needs the voters to entrust it with state power to be able to install an economic system that will welcome the Land Repossession that our forebears fought for in the past hundreds of years.
Please click this link AZAPO_VOICE Volume 1 Issue 12 revised to read and print in pdf format.