The road that liberation took
De Waal Drive renamed Phillip Ngosana Drive, the PAC activist who led historic march from Langa to Cape Town
SOUTH Africa’s current leaders should avoid resorting to bully tactics that were the legacy of apartheid.
This was the warning by Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane yesterday.
He was speaking at a function to rename De Waal Drive to Philip Kgosana Drive in honour of the late Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) stalwart.
The event followed a decision by Cape Town city council to honour the PAC leader who died early this year in Pretoria after a short illness.
Ndungane recalled the event just over 57 years ago when between 30000 to 50 000 people protesters from Langa to the then police headquarters at Caledon Square, which saw the emergence of Kgosana as an influential antiapartheid activist and leader.
He said event was set squarely within the stirring movement brought into being by Robert Sobukwe, the leader of the Pan Africanist Congress, an event that was critical to the campaign against “the vicious pass laws”.
“This was a seminal moment in the history of our land and our continent.
“It is in the context of commemorating this Africanist movement that this event, of renaming a highway, is of great significance since it gives everyone an opportunity to recall the courage, vision and determination of the mass of people who embarked on the pilgrimage march from Langa.” The march had taken place in a peaceful, orderly and disciplined fashion, there had been no stoning or violence by those who participated in it. It was an age in which human rights were not only trampled on, but the right to disagree peacefully was firmly rejected by the apartheid government, Ndungane said.
“This was epitomised on that day by the arrest of Kgosana after he had been duped into asking us all to disperse peacefully. “Such was the cynicism, the chicanery and bullying tactics of the government of the time.”
Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille, who also attended the ceremony yesterday, said it was an honour for all South Africans to celebrate Kgosana whom she described as a gentle giant and who would have celebrated his 81 birthday yesterday.Kgosana spent some of his youth days in Langa and, as a student at the University of Cape Town, he rose to prominence in politics in Cape Town as the regional secretary of the PanAfricanist Congress. For these reasons, “he was a son of Cape Town”.
“He was a humble man, a servant of this country, who sacrificed a lot in his life for what he believed in, the liberation of the people of South Africa from the oppressive apartheid regime.
“Kgosana was more than just a freedom fighter. He was a human rights activist and after being forced into exile he continued his studies.
“He went on to work for the UN Children’s Fund and worked with refugees where he earned international commendation for his two decades of dedicated service.
“This is a man who at the tender age of 23 led 30000, many of them older than him, on a march against the unjust apartheid government’s pass laws.
“That march from Langa to the Cape Town central police station passed through this road we’re standing on at the moment. This was a turning point in the history of our country.”
De Lille said it was therefore fitting that they were honouring his great sacrifice for the liberation of this country by renaming De Waal Drive after him.
“On that fateful day in March 1960, Kgosana showed his mantle as a young man and steadfast leader when he chose peaceful engagement in the face of a tense situation.”
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NEW BEGINNING: Prominent Capetonians at a function to rename De Waal Drive, Philip Kgosana Drive.