50 YEARS OF STRUGGLE AND SACRIFICE
Having been founded in December 1968, the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) is commemorating its 50th Anniversary this year. That is quite a milestone that qualifies the BCM as one of the oldest liberation movements in Azania. And this experience is not just in the length of time, but in the rich and epoch-making contributions of the BCM in the Azanian Revolution.
When the BCM organisations were banned by the white settler-colonial regime on 19 October 1977, the organisations had the presence of mind to outwit the enemy by reconstituting and renaming themselves into AZAPO on 28 April 1978. In that sense, 1978 became not the year of any birth but of the regrouping and consolidation of the BCM that commemorates 50 years of struggle this year.
The Steve Biko Foundation (SBF), an ally of the BCM, is hosting the platform at which the 50th Anniversary milestone will be commemorated. The commemoration will take the form of the 1st BCM Founders Reunion where an eventful programme will be hosted from 14-17 December 2018 at the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg at Biko’s place of birth near Qonce.
The overall theme is “Inspiration Beyond a Lifetime”. A rich line-up of panellists from the BC Stalwarts and AZAPO leaders will lead discussions on various topics with a view to throw light on the BCM legacy and future projection. The young generation stands to benefit a lot from this occasion as Biko’s peers will take the nation into confidence about a lot of information that may have missed most of the written books about the BCM and Biko.
AZAPO, the flagbearer of BC and custodian of Biko, is fully behind the SBF in this historic project. To underscore the productive relationship between AZAPO and the SBF, AZAPO will have its former Presidents in Cdes Dr Saths Cooper and Pandelani Nefolovhodwe sharing their experiences at the BCM Founders Reunion. Other senior AZAPO leaders like Cdes Adv Mojanku Gumbi and Cikizwa Dabula will also make their contribution at the Reunion.
It is pleasing that other BCM founders like Cdes Prof Barney Pityana and Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana will be there to take the nation down memory lane.
AZAPO views this BCM Founders Reunion as a platform to take stock of the BCM’s contributions and how the BCM should reposition and regroup going forward in advancing the liberation struggle. It is a platform where each BCM Stalwart should do self-introspection in terms of their contributions towards defending and advancing their legacy. It would be a waste of time and resources if the participants emerged from the Reunion without being reenergised to advance the ideals for which Biko and thousands of Azanians laid their lives.
Already, a number of BC Founders have departed. Adv Madibeng Chris Mokoditoa took his final rest in October of this year. Others departed much earlier. Those are Bantu Steve Biko, Onkgopotse Ramothibi Tiro, Mapetla Mohapi, Mthuli ka Shezi, Motlalepula Kgware, Drake Koka, Debs Matshoba, Dr Abu Asvat, Muntu ka Myeza, Strini Moodley, Vuyisa Qunta, Nomsisi Kraai (Khuzwayo) and many others.
At the Memorial Service of Adv Mokoditoa, Prof Pityana shared his conversation with other BCM Founders like Prof Bennie Khoapa and Dr Nchaupe Mokoape. This is what he said he told them:
“I go around the university campuses of our land, I come across some smart student activists who are hungry for BC. They are animated by a desire, and an eagerness to embrace BC, a thirst to know and to understand Steve Biko. Much of BC philosophy is being studied with enthusiasm across this nation, I suspect much more than I find than Nelson Mandela. Then why is it that so much BC thinking is being distorted in political language and ideas?”
The Reunion should grapple with this question and many more. Even though the following message was meant for young people at Cde Mokoditoa’s Memorial Service by Prof Pityana, AZAPO implores the BCM Founders to take this message to heart as it was directed to them:
“To the young people in our midst, I can only say, there is work to be done. It is at a time like this that Chris has left our shores. Where he has gone none of us have been, and where he has been, he has left us with much work to do. We all have work to do. Our struggle for liberation is not yet complete. It may never be, but we must not rest”.
WE EXPECT NOTHING FROM RACISTS
As the conscience of Black people, AZAPO had consciously decided to ignore the racist, patronising and condescending rant of one of the biggest beneficiaries of land dispossession, colonialism and apartheid – Johan Rupert. Whichever way the matter is dressed up, there can be no denying that Rupert and his family acquired their ill-gotten wealth because of their white privilege status on the back of economic oppression and exploitation of Black people.
In an interview with Power FM radio station boss Given Mkhari, Rupert offended many Black people by his racist utterances, essentially blaming Black people for their poverty. He further said that those Black people who were able to somehow escape from the poverty through State tenders would blow their cash on fancy German sedans and in night-clubs.
As AZAPO, we were not disappointed at all by Rupert’s condescending attitude towards Black people. However, what disappointed us was the reaction of our people towards his racist rants. Our position as AZAPO has always been to locate the solutions of our problems within ourselves, hence the battle cry – Black man, you are on your own.
Of course, there are some amongst us who have different beliefs. They believe that they can defeat the white supremacist by loving him. They believe that if whites are shown compassion and tender love, they can change and become good towards Black people. They believe that the racism of white people towards Black people is an accident that can be corrected.
They are wrong. The only way to defeat racism is for Black people to be on their own and to attain economic freedom. Economic freedom comes with Black Power, and this is the most potent antidote to kill racism.
It was clear during the radio dialogue with Rupert that many Black people were disappointed with his attitude towards them. One of the participants rightly asserted that Rupert was blatantly racist, but strangely begged him to assist Black people with their start-up operations. And this is where the problem lies. Some of our people still harbour expectations of goodwill from whites. It is possible that had Rupert made some commitments to fund Black businesses, he could have been instantly cleansed of all his sins.
This mistaken belief of linking our survival with whites is the reason AZAPO decided to comment on this issue. From whites, we should expect nothing. We should actually make the white supremacist irrelevant. We are aware of ‘the old school tie’ approach that they adopt towards business and economic issues. A white child is more likely to get the hand up for their business prospects as well as first preference when it comes to employment opportunities. We should accept that we are our own liberators and that nothing will happen without our own efforts. We should free ourselves of the mentality of expecting falling crumbs from the tables of the likes of Rupert and his ilk.
Phansi namabhunu asithandayo!
SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN IS COUNTERREVOLUTIONARY
Once again, and probably not for the last time, a leader of the ruling party has been associated with the sexual harassment of Black women. By virtue of these leaders’ link to the ruling party and State power, Black women would be justified to expect a lot of positive things from them. Unfortunately, some of these leaders have proved to be wolves in sheep’s skins.
The ANC’s national spokesperson Pule Mabe is in boiling water after having allegedly sexually harassed his own fellow Comrade and personal assistant. The young Black woman who is 26 years of age spilled the beans in a “letter of grievance to the ANC about Pule Mabe’s alleged predatory conduct. The woman exposes schemes used by these powerful politicians in their bid to lure women for sexual harassment. Instead of using the State power to liberate Black women, these politicians exploit the joblessness and poverty of Black women to sexually pounce on them.
The young woman shocked the nation when she revealed to the ANC’s senior leader Jessie Duarte that she was employed by Pule Mabe to be his personal assistant in the employ of the ruling party without going through an interview as required by labour ethics. She says she was “verbally informed by Comrade Pule” on 22 July 2018 that she would be starting on the job on 1 August 2018. This all took place at the ANC Provincial Conference held at the usual St George Hotel in Tshwane.
We cannot have forgotten then COSATU’s Zwelinzima Vavi who met a South African Airways Black woman employee whom he employed without an interview and later had sex with her at the federation’s offices. Vavi was then still a staunch ANC backer. We know how the same ANC leaders harassed and persecuted Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser Fezeka “Khwezi” Khuzwayo. The ANCWL was among the ruling party’s organisations that threw all their weight to back their leader by harassing Khuzwayo who had to be exiled for fear of losing her life. While it may have not yet been conclusively shown but there is every possibility that she succumbed to the pressure and died.
The way Black women are treated by these powerful politicians is not different from the serial rapists who offer desperate Black women non-existent jobs only to rape and murder them. It is double tragedy. The first tragedy is that the Black woman here is unemployed and poor. The second tragedy is that her poverty is used to prey on her.
Tragic stories are told of some Black women who have to offer their male bosses sex in order to get promotion. We hear of how some Black women are preyed upon in the business world by having to provide sex in return for tenders. This is cruelty of the worst order.
If anything, the abuse and sexual harassment of Black women by the powerful politicians is evidence of the need for society to uproot patriarchy and sexism. AZAPO so hates the ill-treatment of women that it rejects the harmless non-sexism in favour of its aggressive principle of anti-sexism. We are not just “non-sexist”, but we travel a mile further to be anti-sexist where we actively wage a fierce fight against patriarchy and sexism both in our movement and society at large.
To print and read the pdf version, please click here ⇒ AZAPO Voice Volume 1 Issue Number 42
For all comments and inputs, please click here, we thank you in advance.
ONE AZANIA ! ONE NATION !