WE SALUTE THE AZANIAN BAOBABS
9 August 1956 stands tall in the history of the Azanian Revolution. It is the day Azanian women stood up and staged a massive protest against the white settler-minority regime’s repeated attempts to force Black women to carry passes.
Women travelled from all over the country and gathered in the then Pretoria and then sieged the Union Buildings where Prime Minister JG Strijdom and his ilk were expected to receive the petition by the 20 000 strong women’s presence. Strijdom and his people pulled a now-show against the women who were singing “Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo” (You have tampered with the women, you have struck a rock).
On realising that the action had put such fear of God in Strijdom and his people who had locked the doors and ran away, Lilian Ngoyi led the Azanian Baobabs into a Silent Protest for about 30 minutes to finish the white racist regime off.
That is why 9 August is always observed as the Women’s Day in Azania. This was not to pour cold water on the International Women’s Day which falls on 8 March, but an attempt to ensure that a day of historic significance like the 1956 protest was not lost.
The International Women’s Day was heralded by the Women’s Day that was organised by the Socialist Party of America on 28 February 1909 in New York. That prompted German revolutionary Clara Zetkin to propose at the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference that 8 March be observed on an annual basis as the International Women’s Day.
Granted that background, we honour both 8 March and 9 August. But we have moved further to ensure that 9 August becomes a public holiday to memorialise the gallant struggles of the Azanian Baobabs modelled on the heroism of Women Warriors and Military Strategists like MaNthatisi, Makeda, Nzinga, Nehanda and many others.
In the mode of these African Women Warriors, Black Women were making their presence felt in the Black Power-inspired Black Consciousness Movement in the mid-1960s and onwards. Motlalepule Kgware, Asha Moodley, Debs Matshoba, Mamphela Ramphele, Joyce Kalaote, Nombulelo Kobus (now Mkefa), Thenjiwe Mntintso, Mmagauta Molefe, Rowayda Halim, Rose Ngwenya, Nosipho Matshoba, Nkosazana Dlamini (Zuma), Kuki Tlhako are some of the many Azanian Baobabs that kept the fires of the Liberation Struggle burning.
It is the self-assertiveness of these Azanian Baobabs that ensured that Motlalepule Kgware became the inaugural President of the Black People’s Convention (BPC), while Nkosazana Dlamini (Zuma) became the Deputy President of SASO – the BCM pioneer organisation – in 1974. The bold statement that women were not in the struggle to add numbers but to lead did not end there. In 1978 Nombulelo Mkefa assumed the position of being the Deputy President of AZAPO and went higher to become AZAPO President in 1979.
After the efforts to organise Black women into the Black Women Unite, AZAPO consolidated that hard work into the formation of IMBELEKO Women’s Organisation in 1987. This was done out of the realisation that Black women had peculiar problems that needed them to close ranks and confront patriarchy as part of the struggle for Land Repossession, Total Liberation and Socialism.
Ordinarily AZAPO Voice should be castigating the government for failing to ensure that the SABC television and radio services are able to broadcast Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches. But why should we? This government has consistently displayed its contempt for the poor. While it rules over the poor, it is, in fact, a government for the rich.
If the government is unable, or unwilling or both, to provide a basic necessity such as water to millions of the rural poor, why should we be surprised that it is allowing soccer to be watched only by the rich and those who are able to afford DSTV? If the government is unable to build classrooms in poor areas and thousands of learners are still being taught under trees, why should we be shocked that soccer, the most popular sport among Black people will be privatised and only accessible to the rich? If, according to the ombudsman appointed by the government, health services in the public sector have collapsed, why should we expect politicians to give a hoot about access to soccer?
The blackout of soccer on the screens of the public broadcaster is further evidence that the government pays little attention to the interests of the poor. The only time that politicians take an active interest, nay, pretend to be interested in the plight of the poor is during elections. Otherwise they really could not care less for the poor. It is not by accident that South Africa has become the most unequal society in the world. It is as a result of the policies that essentially prioritise the interests of the rich and not of the poor.
But what is the real story behind the soccer blackout on SABC television? The SABC is in a financial crisis which has been caused by poor management and blatant looting by some cronies to further nests of politically connected business people including the Gupta family. Its poor financial state has forced the public broadcaster to have to cut programs that are not financially viable.
A few years ago, PSL reached a licencing agreement with pay channel SuperSport. The deal generated hundreds of millions for the PSL and the private pay channel had the right to sell soccer to a third party. Over the years, the SABC has been buying the rights from SuperSport. According to the SABC, SuperSport wants the SABC to pay R280 million a year for the rights to broadcast PSL matches. However, this is not financially viable for the SABC as the public broadcaster only generates about R9.8 million in revenues for broadcasting the soccer matches. And because of this, there is a deadlock.
In its wisdom, the PSL decided a few years ago to sell the soccer rights to the highest bidder, SuperSport. For SuperSport, this was a worthwhile investment. However, the full value of this investment can only be realised if the clause of exclusivity was applied. In other words, if SuperSport refused to sell PSL soccer rights to the SABC, the pay TV channel would be in an ideal position to increase its subscriber base and therefore make more money. Like any other private company in a capitalist mode of production, SuperSport is driven by the profit motive and not by the altruistic intention of ensuring that people, regardless of their social or economic status, have access to the game of billions in the country.
True to form, SuperSport drew a line in the sand and insisted that unless it was paid what the PSL rights were worth, there was no deal. A no deal is a good deal for SuperSport. Many people who do not have DSTV will be forced to subscribe to the pay channel in order to watch their favourite sport.
On the other end, the PSL decided to sell their soccer rights to the highest bidder because they too wanted money to invest in the game. The more people watch soccer from the comfort of their lounges, the fewer people would go to the stadiums. Empty stadiums mean less revenues for the PSL. To mitigate the loss of revenue from gate-takings, the PSL did what was in the interest of their association by selling the rights to the highest bidder.
It is no secret that poor funding is in part responsible for the migration of talent from the developing world in South America and Africa to Europe, mainly to Britain, Spain, France and Italy. And because the best in the world play in these leagues, soccer bodies in these countries generate billions through selling TV rights globally. In the process, poorer countries contribute to poor development of soccer in their countries while subsidising the rich European countries. It is a form of cultural imperialism. And cultural imperialism is an important pillar of neo-colonialism.
We can expect strategic politicians to call on the SABC to carry out its “public mandate”. They will say the SABC should address this matter and ensure that all South Africans have access to PSL games. But these will only be words. The SABC can only deliver on its public mandate if that mandate is publicly funded. Currently this is not the situation. The SABC is expected to generate its own revenue to fund its operations.
But because the biggest losers of the no-deal between the SABC and SuperSport are the poor, little will be done. In the eyes of the politicians, the poor are only useful during an election. What a pity!
AZANIA REMEMBERS MAPETLA MOHAPI
43 years ago, one of the foremost political ancestors of the Black Consciousness Movement was killed in racist police custody. That Son of the Soil was Mapetla Mohapi.
Mohapi was born in Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape on 2 September 1947. He studied at the University of the North (Turfloop), where he adopted the philosophy of Black Consciousness, believing that it was the best way to defeat oppression. He became an activist of the South African Students Organisation (SASO), which was the pioneer organisation of the BCM.
He was among thousands of Black students who walked out of Turfloop in solidarity with the late Cde Tiro who had been expelled. Nevertheless, he managed to graduate with a degree in Social Work.
Mohapi gave selflessly with his heart and soul to the upliftment of social conditions of Black people and their collective dignity through community development programmes and projects. He worked tirelessly for the Zimele Trust, a trust that took care of ex-political prisoners and their families, as its administrator. Mohapi was identified for his efforts and commitment and elected the Permanent Organiser for SASO in 1974.
He was instrumental in organising the pro-Frelimo Rallies in October 1974 by students at several Black universities to celebrate the independence of Mozambique. This led to his detention, together with several other leaders of SASO and the Black People’s Convention. He was released in April 1975 without being charged but soon banned under the Suppression of Communism Act. He was confined to the areas of Qonce (King William’s Town). A month after the start of the June 16 Uprisings, in a swoop of BC activists, he was again detained without being charged on 16 July.
20 days later, on 5 August 1976, Mohapi was murdered by the Special Branch while he was in custody at the Kei Road Police Station.
Upon his death, police produced a fake suicide note claiming he had committed suicide in his cell by hanging himself with his jeans. The note was confirmed as a forgery. A bogus inquest was held by the white settler-minority regime. Predictably, it refused to find anyone responsible for Mohapi‘s death.
Mohapi gave his life in the struggle against oppression of his people. His untimely death at the hands of the Apartheid regime robbed Azania and AZAPO of a great leader and hero. We salute our fallen hero. His harassment and persecution by the Bureau of State Security (BOSS) and the Special Branch continued up to his untimely and yet premeditated killing in detention. Close to a century – a life-time, has passed and yet his killers, like those of another gallant hero of our struggle – Steve Biko – have not been brought to account. A mother lost a son, a wife lost a husband and daughters lost a father, and yet perpetrators of this murderous deed got honoured through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and pardoned.
In honour of his work and commitment to the Azanian Revolution and Black Power, we should never lower our guards in waging the struggle of Land Repossession and Total Liberation.
To print and read the pdf version, please click here ⇒ AZAPO Voice Volume 2 Issue Number 29
ONE AZANIA ! ONE NATION!