Revolutionary Speaking – President’s Weekly Column – Volume 1 Issue 3

Vol 1: Issue 3
21 October 2022
The year 2022 marks the 45th anniversary of the banning of 19 organisations that included 14 Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) organisations, 2 organisations of civil society, 2 newspapers and a Christian publication.  The settler-colonial regime had done the same to the ANC and the PAC 17 years earlier.  However, what the BCM would not do was to yield to the diabolical actions of the settler-colonial regime.  The BCM was not going to relocate its political base and operate from exile.  Nor was the BCM going to spend its energy and resources campaigning for the unbanning of the BCM organisations.
The BCM militants moved with speed and regrouped 5 days later at the Lutheran Church in Chiawelo after the banning of the BCM organisations on 19 October 1977.  While others refer to the day as “Black Wednesday”, AZAPO consciously referred to the day as the “Black Solidarity Day”.  Considering today’s political context, it is interesting to know that some of the Comrades in that historic meeting included Jacky Selebi, Zwelakhe Sisulu, Juby Mayet, Seth Mazibuko and Thami Mazwai.  In the typical Black-Conscious defiance mode, the meeting formed the Soweto Action Committee (SAC) that was to ensure that the banning created no political doldrums.  Of cardinal importance is that a subcommittee of SAC was formed at this meeting.  It was mandated to travel throughout Azania and interface with the Comrades that were not arrested on the way forward in the wake of the banning. 
The national consultation resulted in the convening of a meeting at St Ansgar’s Institution at Roodepoort where the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO) was formed as the political heir of the banned BCM organisations.  This was only 6 months after the banning! Though there was a new name at face value, AZAPO was in fact the embodiment of the regrouping and reconstituting of the banned BCM organisations.  In this regard, AZAPO was the defiant continuation of the banned BCM organisations beyond the banning by the enemy.  There was no way the BCM was going to be silenced by an anti-black system that did not form it.  What was connived to be the death of the BCM, ended up being its rebirth at a higher and more dynamic level.
Granted this background, AZAPO is the Black People’s Convention (BPC) beyond the banning.  It is the South African Students Organisation (SASO) beyond the banning.  That is why we sometimes technically regard AZAPO as a political organisation that was formed in 1968, even though its reincarnation was concluded in 1978.  Consistent with the state of AZAPO being the institutional reconstitution of the banned BCM organisations, it (AZAPO) wasted no time and made sure that it memorialised Steve Biko right from the first anniversary of his death till today.  It is therefore no coincidence that AZAPO is generally regarded as the leading and flagbearer organisation of the BCM; and the custodian of Black Consciousness and Biko.
You should be asking yourself what led the settler-colonial regime to be as frightened as to ban the BCM.  Historians are agreed that the banning of the ANC and PAC was followed by a political lull that crippled the liberation struggle.  It took the gallant initiative of teenagers like Biko, Barney Pityana, Ranwedzi Nengwekhulu, Strini Moodley, Nchaupe Mokoape and others to reignite the people’s passion to fight for the reconquest of the land and their liberation.  Organisations were soon formed across the sectors of society.  As early as 1972, the Black Allied Workers’ Union (BAWU) organised a general strike that added to the crippling of the settler-colonial economy.  The VIVA Frelimo rallies were next in 1974 and followed by the June 16 Uprising in 1976.
There was no talking in forked tongues during the heydays of the BCM.  The principal demand of the liberation struggle was the return of the land, upon which our humanity and dignity were anchored.  The struggle was about the repossession of the land and all the instruments of creating wealth.  The Azanian Manifesto stated in no unclear terms that the liberation struggle is “directed against the historically evolved systems of racism and capitalism”.
Land repossession is such a mammoth task that it cannot be realised by one revolutionary force to the exclusion of others.  Black Solidarity means that the political forces of the Left must solidify their ranks in a united front under a Minimum Political Programme.  Biko goes beyond the unity of the organisations of the people and talk about “the totality of involvement of Black people”.  Of course, citizen activism would make more political sense if it is guided by a vanguard political movement inspired by a revolutionary ideology.