Youths no noth­ing of Strug­gle

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Sam Dit­shego

SOUTH Africa’s youth know zilch about the his­tory of the Strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion.

Most young­sters pre­tend to know a thing or two about the his­tory of our Strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion but they re­ally don’t know any­thing.

What they know is the false­hood, half-truths, pro­pa­ganda and a steady diet of in­tel­lec­tual pap they are be­ing fed by the main­stream me­dia and the ten­den­tious and ide­o­log­i­cal lit­er­a­ture from most book stores.

A glance at Onkgopotse JJ Ta­bane’s ar­ti­cle, “ANCYL has be­trayed its mis­sion” (The Star, June 12) re­veals many omis­sions and er­rors.

For in­stance, who was An­ton Lem­bede’s deputy who suc­ceeded him af­ter his death in 1947 and also his clos­est friend? The same old man Ta­bane has not men­tioned had sharp an­a­lyt­i­cal skills and also wrote speeches for Nel­son Man­dela.

He and Lem­bede, just like Steve Biko, held Robert Sobukwe in high es­teem. He and Lem­bede were also friends of another sig­nif­i­cant Congress Youth League founder mem­ber not men­tioned, Zepha­nia Mothopeng, who engi­neered the 1976 stu­dent up­ris­ing and was at the fore­front of the fight against the in­tro­duc­tion of Bantu Ed­u­ca­tion in 1951/1952.

Mothopeng in­ter­acted with stu­dents of the South African Stu­dents Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Saso) which he ad­dressed in 1975 on im­pe­ri­al­ist pen­e­tra­tion in uni­ver­si­ties. Saso was formed in 1968 and banned with other Black Con­scious­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions in 1977.

Ta­bane doesn’t even know that the ma­jor­ity of the 1944 Congress Youth League mem­bers he wrote about went on to form the PAC in 1959.

Ta­bane writes that “the de­ter­mi­na­tion to take up arms, for ex­am­ple, was in­spired by that gen­er­a­tion af­ter all peace­ful means to free­dom drew a blank”.

But it wasn’t the ANC that was the first to take up arms, it was Poqo, the fore­run­ners of the Aza­nian Peo­ples Lib­er­a­tion Army (Apla) in Septem­ber 1961, more than a year af­ter the PAC’s anti-pass cama­paign, which cul­mi­nated in the Sharpeville mas­sacre.

MK fol­lowed three months later in De­cem­ber. The PAC was a trail­blazer and the ANC has al­ways been a copy­cat.

In 1959 he (AP Mda) and Mothopeng were founder mem­bers of the Pan African­ist Congress, a vi­brant or­gan­i­sa­tion which at its for­ma­tion Sobukwe de­scribed as the ship of free­dom, al­though ini­tially Ashby Peter Mda was against the African­ists form­ing their own or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Ta­bane can­not af­ford to over­look men like th­ese and talk about Soweto Day and rush to men­tion Man­dela, Oliver Tambo and Wal­ter Sisulu sim­ply be­cause it’s pop­u­lar to men­tion them when their roles didn’t sur­pass that of AP Mda.

Another sig­nif­i­cant Congress Youth League leader Ta­bane failed to men­tion is PAC found­ing Pres­i­dent Sobukwe.

S o b u k we was in­stru­men­tal in draft­ing the ANCYL Pro­gramme of Ac­tion of 1949, which the ANC lead­ers he cred­its aban­doned in favour of the Free­dom Char­ter sin­gle-hand­edly drafted by SACP and COD (South African Congress of Democrats) mem­ber Rusty Bern­stein.

He also didn’t men­tion Dr Wil­liam Fred­er­ick Nkomo who was pro­vi­sional leader of the Congress Youth League and handed over the lead­er­ship to Lem­bede be­cause he was go­ing to con­tinue with his stud­ies. There is a street named af­ter Nkomo in Pre­to­ria.

Ta­bane writes as if the ANC is the only or­gan­i­sa­tion that has youth and was in­stru- men­tal in the 1976 up­ris­ing.

The ANC or ANCYL had noth­ing to do with the Soweto up­ris­ing and a group of us told this to Tambo to his face ac­com­pa­nied by Joe Modise in early 1977 in a packed Univer­sity of Zam­bia lec­ture hall.

Ta­bane has not men­tioned the sig­nif­i­cant role Saso played in our strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion. He hasn’t men­tioned the role played by the Young African Chris­tian Move­ment (YACM) which changed to Young African Re­li­gious Move­ment (Yarm) to ac­com­mo­date youth from other faiths.

When YACM was formed in 1975, by for­mer Robben Is­lan­der and one of the Bethal trea­son tri­al­ists Mr Mike Mat­sobane, Bishop Des­mond Tutu and Rev­erend Mat­lalepule Chabaku at­tended its launch at St Bartholomew Church in Kag­iso, where I re­side.

Ta­bane has also not men­tioned Azanyu and count­less other youth or­gan­i­sa­tions such as SASM and others af­fil­i­ated to the Black Con­scious­ness Move­ment.

He hasn’t men­tioned the sig­nif­i­cant role Onkgopotse Tiro played in or­gan­is­ing high school stu­dents into a for­mi­da­ble ide­o­log­i­cal group and fight­ing force. How can Onkgopotse JJ Ta­bane for­get or ig­nore his name­sake? Kag­iso


COLOUR-BLIND KIDS: Pupils from St Teresa’s School in Rose­bank brave the rain and early morn­ing traf­fic on Jan Smuts Av­enue to take a stand against racism in South Africa.

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