Free­dom Char­ter no dream de­ferred – it’s a ‘night­mare’

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Te­bogo Brown

ONKGOPOTSE JJ Ta­bane’s ar­ti­cle pub­lished un­der the head­line, “Free­dom Char­ter is a dream de­ferred”, in The Star of June 26 refers.

If the Free­dom Char­ter (FC) was one of the most im­por­tant doc­u­ments in our his­tory, there wouldn’t be the PAC and its var­i­ous for­ma­tions such as Poqo, the fore­run­ners of Apla.

What is sem­i­nal in the con­tents of the Free­dom Char­ter? Is it be­cause it was writ­ten by a white man? It is not a rev­o­lu­tion­ary doc­u­ment that can be used as a guide to ac­tion by a colo­nially op­pressed indige­nous peo­ple. It didn’t distin­guish be­tween the op­pressed and the op­pres­sor, dis­pos­sessed and the dis­pos­ses­sor.

More­over, it di­vided the op­pressed peo­ple into two move­ments, the African­ists and the Char­ter­ists. They are still di­vided to this day. How is this a sem­i­nal doc­u­ment? Ta­bane is wont to us­ing words too loosely.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing a di­vi­sive doc­u­ment, it was also con­tro­ver­sial in that ANC pres­i­dent Chief Al­bert Luthuli and his deputy Dr Win­ston Conco didn’t know about the FC.

The ANC pres­i­dent who pre­ceded Dr James Moroka, Dr AB Xuma, de­cried the ac­tions of the Char­ter­ists in 1958 and said they came un­der the in­flu­ence of white peo­ple. He asks how we can safely say that the peo­ple are gov­ern­ing with­out land. Which land is Ta­bane com­plain­ing about since South Africa be­longs to all who live in it? If SA be­longs to all who live in it, then ev­ery­body must be hav­ing land be­cause it be­longs to ev­ery­body who lives in it? How has the govern­ment failed to re­solve the land ques­tion when the land be­longs to all who live in it? He writes that the spirit of the FC is gone in re­al­ity and that the spirit of the FC was still­born.

African heads of state did not want to have any­thing to do with the FC – they em­braced the PAC with its 1949 Pro­gramme of Ac­tion. He chose to cite two clauses in the FC – the peo­ple shall gov­ern and the doors of learn­ing shall be open to all – de­lib­er­ately leav­ing out its con­tro­ver­sial pre­am­ble which says South Africa be­longs to all who live in it, black and white.

South Africa does not be­long to all who live in it, it be­longs to the African peo­ple. Aza­nia can­not be­long to the op­pres­sor and the op­pressed and when the FC says the land shall be­long to those who till it, whose land is it re­fer­ring to?

Worse still are rev­e­la­tions that or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the EFF are fight­ing for the cus­to­di­an­ship of an empty doc­u­ment such as the Free­dom Char­ter. Ac­cord­ing to my scant knowl­edge of pol­i­tics, I don’t re­mem­ber any con­fer­ence where the EFF of­fi­cially adopted the FC as its guid­ing doc­u­ment. Ta­bane seems to be the only one who knows about this.

Ta­bane writes that the Free­dom Char­ter is a mantra of lib­er­a­tion forces march­ing to free­dom; which lib­er­a­tion forces is he talk­ing about since the PAC, and later the Black Con­scious­ness Movement, out­rightly re­jected the Free­dom Char­ter?

Fi­nally, the FC is not a dream de­ferred; it’s a night­mare.

South Africa does not be­long to all who live in it…


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