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STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

BY

HERBERT W. VILAKAZI

 

(Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture, 2013, Walter Sisulu University, Umthatha, July 18, 2013; www.professorvilakazi.wordpress.com; vilakazi@icon.co.za)

 

 

The title of my address, in honour of our beloved leader and former State President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, is, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Where Do We Go From Here?”

 

Notice that there are two subjects in the topic: First, we must acknowledge that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. We must identify these giants, and indicate in what way they merit the title of “giants”, in relation to us, to our history, and to our society. We are taller in stature, we can see better and farther, because we are standing on the shoulders of these giants.

 

We would like to believe, though, that we are not just talking about physical height. We are talking here about depth of wisdom, depth and breadth of vision, about spiritual richness and nobility. It is the same with physical courage as it is with physical height. Those who worked closely with Nelson Mandela have remarked, as Govan Mbeki did: “Few people have the nerves that Nelson has.” We are, however, not talking merely about the courage to dare death. As Frederick Douglass said in 1871, at the grave of unknown soldiers who died during the US Civil War: “… we are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause” (Frederick Douglass: The Orator, edited by James M. Gregory, 1893).

 

What was the noble cause which elicited Madiba’s remarkable courage? It was the struggle to emancipate millions of Africans in South African society, who were brutally, ceaselessly, and systematically oppressed by White supremacy, and, along with that emancipation, the consequent emancipation of all members of South African society.

 

Even though there were hundreds and thousands of others, overwhelmingly Africans, who were imprisoned like him, Madiba emerged worldwide as the symbol of the oppression and suffering of Africans in South Africa stretching over some centuries. It was Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress who were crowned victorious in 1994, when he became the first State President of an emancipated nation, and the ANC became the new ruling party of the new South Africa.

 

I called your attention to the fact that the title of my address has two subjects. Note again the title: “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Where Do We Go From Here?”

 

Note that we are not talking about one Giant; we are talking about a plurality of Giants. We are talking here about a galaxy of individuals, in past generations, who represented the best tradition in community life and nation-building in our own particular African history.

 

This goes back to the African village, to the African Commune –to the practice of UBUNTU. W. E. B. DuBois wrote almost a century ago, that the uniqueness of African civilization, compared to other civilizations, is that, while in European and other civilizations the breakthrough and entrancing conceptions and philosophies were born in cities, in African civilization the breakthrough and entrancing conceptions and philosophies were born in the African village, in the countryside –the most breakthrough and entrancing conception and philosophy being the conception and philosophy of UBUNTU, with its most profound definition and conception of a Human Being: Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu: a Human Being is a Human Being through other Human Beings.

 

The violation of this profound definition and conception of a Human Being by Europeans, as they were brought to Africa by capitalism and imperialism, became the African’s definition and conception of European civilization. It was Karl Marx, in his 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, who pierced deep down into the Commune, captured and raised as the deepest desire of Humankind the conception and philosophy of UBUNTU. This is what Western philosophers in the 1960s and 70s called “Marx’s Humanism”.

 

African people’s outrage, in their encounter with Europeans, all the wars waged by Africans against Europeans in Southern Africa, were over European civilization’s intention and practice of dispossessing Africans of their land, their freedom and independence, and destruction of UBUNTU.

This was the issue behind the wars between Africans and Europeans in the Cape in the 18th century, in the interior of Southern Africa in the 19th century, this was the issue behind King Cetshwayo’s and King Sekhukhune’s wars, this was the issue behind King Dinuzulu’s imprisonment and exile to St. Helena, the very same place where European Powers kept Napoleon Bonaparte imprisoned and exiled; this was the issue behind Inkosi Bhambatha’s war in 1906, which led to the Boer and English patching up their differences and forming the Union of South Africa in 1910; this was the issue which led to the formation of what became known later as the African National Congress in 1912. In all these wars, right up to the formation of the ANC in 1912, AmaKhosi, the Royal Leaders of Southern Africa, the Kings and Queens of our land and continent, played the leading role.  

 

What was very unique in the struggle of Africans against European civilization was the striving and battle-cry of African leaders for UNITY of African people. “MuZulu, MuXhosa, MuSutho, Hlanganani”! That was the battle-cry, that was the supreme striving, of early African leaders.

 

Those are the GIANTS I am talking about.

 

In valuable essays written by Nelson Mandela inside Robben Island in 1976 and 1978, you can almost hear Madiba screaming loud for UNITY of African people:

“The most urgent problem facing us is that of unity…A united liberation movement that enjoys the solid support of the oppressed people as a whole, which does not have rivalries to divert its attention, and which can devote all its resources to the single objective of crushing the enemy will be a turning point in the history of our country…The unity we are advocating is a unity of existing political organizations in the movement, of those who are already waging the armed struggle, those who are still preparing to do so and even those who have no such plans. It is the type of unity that is imposed from above by that minority of conscious freedom fighters who are aware of the dangers of disunity and of the vlue of concerted action…(Reflections in Prison, edited by Mac Maharaj, Cape Town, Zebra and the Robben Island Museum, 2001)

 

That is a continuation of the cry for the unity of African people under attack from Kings Cetshwayo and Sekhukhune, to Amakhosi who worked for the formation of the ANC in 1912.

 

Those are the GIANTS I am talking about, those are the GIANTS on whose shoulders we are standing.

 

The second part of the title of my address is: “…Where Do We Go From Here?”

 

This second subject of the title of my address challenges us, the present and future generation. The GIANTS did their work, they did their job: these, indeed, were GIANTS, for they did their work amazingly well given the enormous obstacles they faced on their way.

 

This is the heritage the GIANTS left us. The gigantic question now is staring us in the face: standing on the shoulders of these GIANTS, where do we go from here? What direction do we take? WHAT HERITAGE SHALL WE LEAVE BEHIND? WHAT IMPRINT SHALL WE LEAVE ON CURRENT, IMMEDIATE AND FUTURE HISTORY?

The Giants of our past, in particular Nelson Mandela, and Lenin, stressed again and again that we should not fear to admit our mistakes; that the courage and incisive, enriched minds which enable us to identify our mistakes, and to correct them, is our most powerful source of strength.

 

What is our situation today? We must admit that, as citizens of the new country, we are not spiritually at peace; there is a gnawing feeling, deep down in our souls, that there is something wrong. The African community, the foundation of our society, is not spiritually healthy. This ill-health in the soul of the African community reverberates throughout society, and makes the entire society not spiritually healthy.

 

To paraphrase that famous book of the Corinthians, though the people may have all the wealth, and beautiful wives, husbands, children and neighbors, but have no peace in their souls, but have ill-health in their souls, they are nothing. It is moral bonding and love among the masses of people which is the sure cement binding and knitting society and civilization together.

 

Where did we go wrong?  It is crucially important that we see and understand this point clearly.

When European civilization conquered Southern Africa, Europeans in Africa made the African countryside a colony of the White settler-community. They drew an unmistakable and non-erasable line between the White community, on the one hand, and the African countryside, on the other hand. The African countryside was the source of labourers for Whites, whether in towns or White farms. The African countryside became a colony of the White settler-community.

 

I must stress that the African countryside was twice-burdened, twice-exploited, and was actually twice-oppressed. The African countryside was oppressed and exploited by the internal White settler-community; and was also exploited and oppressed by the Metropolitan Power abroad and imperialism. As time went on, a tiny slice of Westernized Africans emerged, who were allowed certain privileges by the Colonial masters not allowed the non-Westernized, countryside Africans.

 

In the USA there emerged the distinction between the “house-nigger” and the “field nigger”, made famous by Malcolm X. In the French colonies, there emerged the layer of Africans called “evolues”; in Portuguese colonies the “assimilados”  In South Africa, we had the layer of Africans called the “exempted”.  

 

When the National Party took over State power in 1948, they twigged the racism of Smuts’ government, and introduced the policy of Apartheid, which was an extension and more vicious version of racism. that expressed the insecurities, fears, and hatreds of poor Afrikaners, the middle farmers, and large Afrikaner farmers.

 

In time they formulated and implemented the policy of Separate Development, according to which each ethnic community within the African population was to be developed and guided by the White State to political independence. The National Party then drew a line, more or less super-imposed upon the old line separating the African countryside from White settler-communities, with a few new enclaves and boundaries dreamed up by the official Afrikaner intellectuals.

 

This was a package within which was the Bantu Education Act entrenching unequal education between Whites, Indians, Coloureds, and Africans. This also came with forced removals of communities of millions of people, the most notable of which were forced removals of African and Coloured people in urban areas. This was a period of extreme, macabre madness in the pursuit of racist policies comparable to German Nazism in the 1930s and early 40s. This was an outburst of psycho-pathology, conceived, supported, and implemented by the State, with few equals in modern history. Racist oppression, torture, massacres -inhumanity of Human being to Human being- exceeded all measure, exceeded all measure of dismay and shock, particularly in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s; it reached, and in many cases, surpassed what can be endured by the human body, by the human mind, and by the human psyche. Thousands upon thousands of people, particularly the oppressed, were imprisoned and detained and exiled.

 

This explosion of society-wide psycho-pathology, this unspeakable torture and inhumanity of Human being to Human being, could not help but have a heavy impact on the liberation movement. In the entire struggle of the oppressed for liberation, the heavy onset and victory of oppression and reaction from oppressors has always sown deep depression and hopelessness among a significant number of oppressed; some fell to alcohol; some to other easy forms of excitation of the senses; some to delirium; some to silent stoicism; some to intense religiosity; some to abandonment of the struggle, internal and external; some to unrealistic dreams; others to deep pessimism; and some to ultra-revolutionism.

 

The most difficult challenge to revolutionary thinkers and leaders during such a period is to maintain calm, realistic revolutionary thought, and not to have one’s thought swayed and shaped by emotions.

 

In South Africa, the biggest challenge to revolutionary theory and practice, to revolutionary leadership, was the deep, inerasable line drawn by the National Party, separating the African countryside from urban South Africa, especially the line separating the new self-government structures created by the White State in the African countryside, on the one hand, and the White oppressive State itself, on the other hand.

 

The African countryside contained millions of oppressed men, women, and children, and the newly created and African staffed self-governing structured created by the White State. The millions of Africans within these structures were at that time not in revolutionary upheaval, nor were they in a revolutionary mindset. The consciousness of thee millions of African people had surrendered to the status quo, and, being traditional people, they were reverential towards the African leadership in the White government-created self-governing structures in the African countryside.

 

The most crucially important question for revolutionary strategy, at the time, with dire consequences for then present politics, and for the fate of our revolution, was: what should be the attitude of the liberation movement towards these self-governing structures in the African countryside, and towards the individuals in leadership positions of these structures?

Should revolutionaries boycott these structures? Should they send some of their people to work inside these structures?

 

Should revolutionaries refuse to cooperate with these structures on specific issues? Should the individuals working within these structures be considered enemies of the struggle for liberation? Should these leaders be attached the same way revolutionaries should attack the White oppressive State? Should the individuals leading these structures be identified as the same with the White oppressors? Should revolutionaries boycott reactionary institutions all the time? Are there time and conditions when revolutionaries shall be obligated to work within reactionary institutions?

The issue of “boycott” of institutions established by oppressors for the oppressed; the issue of the use of legal or illegal weapons of struggle, or of a combination of both; the issue of participation in “bourgeois” or reactionary parliaments; the issue of participation by revolutionaries in reactionary Trade Unions and other reactionary associations –all these issues were thoroughly and effectively discussed by leading revolutionary leaders around the world; and answers to these questions were long-ago incorporated within correct revolutionary theory.

 

In our own South African case, the foremost leader who discussed these issues most clearly and effectively is Nelson Mandela. In “Our Struggle Needs Many Tactics”, published in 1958, Mandela wrote:

“In some cases, therefore, it may be correct to boycott, and in others it may be unwise and dangerous…In its struggle for the attainment of its demands the liberation movement avails itself of various political weapons, one of which might (but not necessarily) be the boycott. It is, therefore, a serious error to regard the boycott as a weapon that must be employed at all times and in all conditions.”

Referring to the White parliament at that time, Mandela wrote:

“The parliamentary forum must be exploited to put forth the case for a democratic and progressive South Africa. Let the democratic movement have a voice both outside and within parliament.” (Mandela, Nelson, The Struggle is My Life, London, 1978, pp. 69-71)

 

However, the revolutionary leader and theorist who wrote the unmatched and exhaustive document on these issues is Lenin (“Left-Wing” Communism –An Infantile Disorder):

“…in 1908-1914 the Bolsheviks could not have preserved …the core of the revolutionary party of the proletariat, had they not upheld, in a most strenuous struggle, the viewpoint that it was obligatory to combine legal and illegal forms of struggle, and that it was obligatory to participate even in a most reactionary parliament and in a number of other institutions hemmed in by reactionary laws…to reject compromises “on principle”, to reject the permissibility of compromises in general, no matter of what kind, is childishness…If you want to help the “masses” and win the sympathy and support of the “masses”,  you should not fear difficulties…but must absolutely work wherever the masses are to be found. You must be capable of any sacrifice, of overcoming the greatest obstacles, in order to carry on agitation and propaganda systematically, perserveringly, persistently and patiently in those institutions, societies and associations –even the most reactionary- in which proletarian or semi-proletarian masses are to be found.” (Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism –An Infantile Disorder”, Collected Works, Volume 31, Moscow, Progress Publishers, pp, 36-53)

 

Unfortunately, both Mandela’s writings, and Lenin’s works, were most likely not available to South African revolutionaries in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Hence the most serious blunders were committed with regard to the White government-created self-governing structures in the African countryside; these blunders have brought about the most serious disaster for the fate of modern South African politics and society. The posture that was taken, particularly by the Black Consciousness Movement, whose influence crossed into the ANC and PAC, as youth got into these movements in droves –the posture of condemning indiscriminately all African officials within White government-created structures in the African countryside and in urban South Africa, calling all these officials `stooges’ of the White oppressors, the posture of refusing to work within these structures, this posture constituted the roots of the conflicts which occurred within the African community; this incorrect revolutionary posture and doctrine destroyed the basis of unity within the African community.

 

This is what we need to realize and to correct.

 

Mandela stressed that we must not fear to admit our mistakes. The greatest revolutionary of them all, Lenin, stressed again and again that we must never fear to go back a hundred times to what has been done, to correct what we did wrongly, to improve what we did imperfectly, to complete the work we left half-done, to do what we failed to do.

 

The Black Consciousness Movement emerged in the early 1970s, and pronounced, and insisted, and taught, that all Self-governing structures, all Homelands, were reactionary institutions, since they were “government-created” as part of Apartheid and White Supremacy. They taught and insisted that the leaders of such institutions must resign and join the liberation struggle; BCM insisted that the only legitimate participation in the struggle for freedom was outside of, and in conflict with, government-created political institutions such as self-governing structures and Homeland governments.

 

Mandela wrote an essay on the Black Consciousness Movement in 1978, which was smuggled out of Robben Island. He stresses the need to combine legal and illegal forms of struggle:

“…the ANC has not ignored the legal forms of struggle, and, through legal organizations, we ae constantly striving for mass activity on a large scale, trying to mobilize all anti-apartheid forces, even those outside the liberation movement, in spite of the fact that their fighting methods may fall short of ours. We will use dummy institutions once we are convinced that to do so will strengthen the struggle and hasten the enemy’s downfall.” (Reflections in Prison, edited by Mac Maharaj, p. 54)

Walter Sisule also did not mince his words on this issue:

“We cannot abandon our people in the Bantustans to the dictates of the white racists and to those who choose to kowtow to them in the Bantustans…Cutting ourselves off from the people in the Bantustans would amount to playing right into the hands of the enemy. We have an alternative to offer to the people in these areas. We shall be able to offer it if we accept the reality of the political `independence’ of those Bantustans and set out to utilize every means available to expose the contradictions that make their `independence’ unreal and show them that their future lies not in co-operation and friendship with the white racists but in supporting and assisting the liberation movement, whose real target remains the white racist regime of South Africa…One of our greatest mistakes is to see in every man and woman who works within these apartheid institutions an enemy of the revolution.” (Sisulu, Walter, “We Shall Overcome”, Reflections in Prison, edited by Mac Maharaj, p. 89)  

A remarkable document on these issues in revolutionary history is the article, “Against Boycott”, written by Lenin in June 1907. This document is about tactics and principles in revolutionary struggle. There are two paths that the revolutionary can take: the 1) revolutionary path, and 2) the zig-zag path.

 

The revolutionary path is the straight one, when masses of oppressed people are in revolutionary upheaval against the prevailing oppressive structures, when they are up in arms fighting for the overthrow of existing oppressive conditions. It is during these rare periods in history, when it is not permissible for revolutionary leaders for opt for “compromises” with oppressors, when the tactic of “boycott” of reactionary institutions is correct: this is when the masses of people, by their hundreds of thousands and millions, are in the actual, practical process of constructing their own revolutionary institutions.

 

To opt for “compromises” during such revolutionary times, to opt to enter “reactionary” institutions during such a time, is actually giving the oppressors a life-line for survival as oppressors. This is inadmissible.

 

However, revolutionary days come and pass away, the revolutionary energy of the actual masses ebbs away; the revolutionary will ebbs, and masses of people settle down to institutions not of their own choosing, not constructed by their own revolutionary action. This is the period when the masses of people have been defeated, and the oppressors have triumphantly erected their own institutions for containing the masses of people.

 

The revolutionary leader, according to Lenin, does not close shop and abandon the revolutionary struggle. The revolutionary leader is obligated to enter those reactionary institutions erected by the oppressors for containing the millions of oppressed people. This is what Lenin calls the “Zig-zag” path of revolutionary struggle.

 

The path is not straight. As a revolutionary, you are obligated to preserve the revolutionary aims, to navigate and maneuver inside those institutions established by the oppressed. Your charge, your duty, as a revolutionary, is not to separate yourself even by an inch from the masses of oppressed people. Even if the masse of oppressed people are in a “pigsty”, as Lenin stressed you must, as a leader, be willing and able to enter that same “pigsty”, to educate and empower the masses of people so that they, themselves, may be able to tear down the walls of that same “pigsty” and liberate themselves.

 

During the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, even 90s, there was no mass revolutionary upheaval in this country. Therefore, it was incumbent for revolutionaries to learn to work inside institutions established by the White oppressive State, for the furtherance of the revolutionary struggle. That is why, for example, some of us came to work in the Transkei, why we worked at this University, then called the University of Transkei.

 

We did amazing work, furthering the aims of the revolution, right here in this university. I used to say, quoting Lenin, “you must be a wolf in sheep skin”. We did that work quietly, without antagonizing the powers of the time, without boasting out loud; we transformed and developed this University, which, in turn, contributed mightily to the political development and transformation of the Transkei. We did this work, of course, until the South African security forces, and Van der Merwe, discovered our deep aims, and we were arrested and shipped out of the Transkei. That is another story I can tell on another occasion.

 

That is the pattern of revolutionary activity which should have been followed in the entire country.

 

However, in line with the incorrect doctrine of the “boycott” of reactionary, government-created institutions and Homelands governments, of attaching individuals working in these institutions, of calling them “sellouts” and “stooges”, and “enemies” of the revolutionary struggle, poisonous tension, a poisonous spirit, accumulated within the African community.

 

This ultra-revolutionary posture and doctrine of students caused serious harm, in fact, disaster, to the development of the South African revolution, bringing about poisonous divisions, hatred, bitterness, and conflicts within the African community. Lenin struggled with great determination and wisdom against ultra-revolutionaries, in 1918, over the issue of whether the new Soviet Government should sign a “wretched” “despicable” peace treaty with Germany, which was to result in Soviet Russia surrendering land with mineral resources to Germany.

 

Lenin argued that Soviet Russia must sign this “wretched” “despicable’ treaty with imperialist Germany, for the sake of preserving the Russian Revolution and enabling it to develop. Ultra-revolutionaries within the ruling party argued that this was a betrayal of revolutionary interests, that such a compromise with imperialist Germany was absolutely unacceptable. The controversy got so heated that Lenin threatened to resign from government if the ultra-revolutionaries won the day. His words are so important on correct revolutionary tactics during concrete historical moments of the direct revolutionary path, on the one hand, and during concrete historical moments of the round-about, “zig-zag” path, on the other hand, that they should be quoted:

“When I said at a Party meeting that the revolutionary phrase about a revolutionary war might ruin our revolution, I was reproached for the sharpness of my polemics. There are, however, moments, when a question must be raised sharply and things given their proper names, the danger being that otherwise irreparable harm may be done to the Party and the revolution. Revolutionary phrase-making, more often than not, is a disease from which revolutionary parties suffer at times when they constitute, directly or indirectly, a combination, alliance or intermingling of proletarian and petty-bourgeois [studends, intellectuals –HWV] elements, and when the course of revolutionary events is marked by big, rapid zigzags. By revolutionary phrase-making we mean the repetition of revolutionary slogans irrespective of objective circumstances at a given turn in events…The slogans are superb, alluring, intoxicating, but there are no grounds for them; such is the revolutionary phrase.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 27, p. 19)

“Historical experience teaches us that always, in all revolutions, at a time when a revolution takes an abrupt turn from swift victory to severe defeats, there comes a period of pseudo-revolutionary phrase-making that invariably causes the greatest damage to the development of the revolution.” (Ibid., p. 177)

In the history of the South African revolution, the triumph of “pseudo-revolutionary phrase-making”, during the darkest period of the liberation struggle, after Sharpeville, when millions of oppressed people in the African countryside were enclosed within government-created reactionary structures –the triumph of pseudo-revolutionary phrase-making during these decades, when objective circumstances called for the adoption of revolutionary tactics appropriate during the “zigzag” phase of the revolution, destroyed the basis of UNITY within the African community, thereby crippling the revolutionary potential of the masses of African people. There emerged so much poisonous tension within the African community that so-called “black-on-black” violence emerged within the country.

 

This situation was, of course, taken advantage of by the enemies of the liberation struggle, by those who wanted to defeat African Nationalism. This poisonous tension and poisonous spirit inside the African community was taken advantage of by the White State, to trigger political violence within the African community.

 

I tried many times during those years to warn our people about these dangers. In the early 1970s, wrote a thick document, “South Africa: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, familiarizing South African revolutionaries with the writings of the world’s leading revolutionaries on correct revolutionary strategy and tactics. I sent that document to offices of the ANC, PAC, Unity Movement, Inkatha, and to the SACP, I met in Durban with Steve Biko, Barney Pityana, Ben Khoapa, and other BCM leaders, discussed and warned about the dangers of their position towards Homelands and towards the leader of Inkatha, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. I did receive a warm, appreciative letter from the Zambian office of the ANC, signed by Thabo Mbeki, which I still have in my possession, as well as an appreciative response from Prince Buthelezi.

 

I wrote many articles in our media warning about this wrong strategy and tactic towards government-created political structures. For example, in the Star of July 27 1995, I wrote:

“As a result of the infiltration of security agents, healthy debate and competition between ideologies within the African community was turned into a war of factions, which, from the 1970s on, turned the UDF, Azapo, PAC, Inkatha, the ANC, homelands politicians, and urban councilors into deadly enemies. These groups, within the African community, became divided by rivers of blood, spite, and hatred. The charge is often made that the apartheid state used Inkatha to destabilize the ANC. This is not the exact truth. What we should say, backed by evidence available now, is that, through infiltration, the ANC, IFP, PAC, AZAPO, UDF, black councilors and other homelands politicians were used, through war among themselves, as weapons in the struggle against the triumph of African unity in politics…This is the essence of the Goldstone Commission reports.” (Star, Johannesburg, July 27, 1995, p. 18)  

 

It is not surprising that the biggest rivers of blood that flowed during those years were in KwaZulu/Natal: Zulus are the largest ethnic group in the country, more people speak Zulu than any other language in the nation, and the people of KwaZulu played a very prominent role in the founding and establishment of the ANC.

 

It is inevitable that on this matter we have to talk about Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. He grew up, politically, as an ANC member, mentored by Albert Luthuli, and influenced also by his uncle Dr. Seme, the brain behind the founding of the ANC. Mangosuthu Buthelezi was requested by the ANC, principally Chief Albert Luthuli and Walter Sisulu, to go back to Mahlabathini and run for the position of leader of the Self-governing structure that the White government was planning to establish.

He performed  that work as an ANC leader, until the quarrel occurred between the ANC and Inkatha. The quarrel between the ANC and Inkatha was, in my view, the work of the agents within the organizations who were instructed by the White State to disrupt and prevent unity among African people.

 

In an article published in 1995, I wrote the following:

“The full truth about the relation between Dr. Buthelezi and the old ANC leadership before 1976 still has to be told. This reminds me of the falsification of history which occurred in Stalin’s Russia, which necessitated, during `The Thaw’ after Stalin’s death, the `rehabilitation’ of certain figures in the history of Bolshevism who had been expunged from that history by Stalin…I am almost certain that we shall yet live to see the ANC in the future `rehabilitating’ Dr. Buthelezi as a hero of the ANC, once the truth is fully known…” (Vilakazi, Herbert, “South Africa and Civil Society”, Civil Society Afte Apartheid, edited by Richard Humphries and Maxine Reitzes, Johannesburg, Centre for Policy Studies, 1995, p. 80)    

 

The tactics of Nelson Mandela, and of Walter Sisulu, aimed at building and maintaining unity among African people, were not implemented in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

 

The rivers of blood, and the poisonous spirit and tension, within the African community, particularly in KwaZulu/Natal, polluted and inflicted deep injury to the soul of the African community, to the souls of ordinary men, women, and children in the country.

 

I repeat: moral bonding and love are the delicate cement which knit and bind society and civilization together. There should be peace and love among Africans of this country, upon which should be cultivated peace and love among all South Africans.

 

I remind you of Abraham Lincoln’s words in his Second Inaugural Speech in 1865, as the Civil War was ending. “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…”

 

I am saying, Let us bind up the wounds of our nation, first and foremost, let us bind up the wounds of the African community. I am talking here about spiritual wounds, wounds in the soul of the nation.

 

As Mandela said many times: let us not fea to admit our mistakes. As Lenin said again and again, let us go back to do better what we have done badly; let us go back to do what we failed to do; let us go back to improve what we did imperfectly.

 

To close and cure the wound in our souls, to close and cue the wounds in the soul of the African community, we need urgently to embark on reconciliation within the African community. If our leaders could go to Orania, to Portchefstroom, to Afrrikaner communities to effect reconciliation between the Black government and the White community, why can we not reconcile with our own kith and kin? Why can we not go to Mafekeng to reconcile with Mangope? Why can we not go to Mahlabathini to reconcile with Buthelezi? Why can we not go to Giyani, to Sekhukhune, to Bisho, to Qwaqwa? to Umthatha, to KwaMhlanga, to Polokwane, to Thohoyandou, for ceremonies of reconciliation with African people?

      

I am proposing that as a nation, we embark on a project of reconciliation within the African community. I am talking here about reconciliation according to African culture, to close and heal the wounds that opened in the African soul during the conflict between leaders of White government-created institutions in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, on one hand, and the leaders of the liberation struggle. Those leaders were not standing alone. I have already said that our people in the African countryside are traditional people, raised by tradition to be bound by respect to community leaders.

 

Hurting those communities inflicted wounds on the souls of those ordinary people in the African community. The injury in the souls of the African countryside, which extends to the African community in the towns and cities –that injury still remains open. We must close that wound.

 

I am talking here about a huge public event, attended by all the living leaders of the time, by President Zuma, Former President Mbeki, Winnie Mandela Madikizela, Premiers and Mayors, the Kings and Queens of the African community, AmaKhosi, Religious leaders, Traditional Healers, Artists, Youth, Women, and Invited leaders and Royalty from neighbouring countries.

 

The procedure should be, first and foremost, the process of effecting reconciliation in traditional African culture; then followed by Prayers and Traditional Sacred songs and dancing.

 

Sithi Mayibuye iAfrika yangempela, lapho UmAfrika, UMlungu, UmNdiya, UmColoured bayo khula babe ama Afrika angempela.

 

Ngithi, Masiphakamise izingalo, njengo Makhulu no Tat’Omkhulu base ndulo, sithi, Mayibuye iAfrika Yangempela!

 

 

  

 

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About Professor Herbert W. Vilakazi

Professor Herbert Vilakazi was born at Nongoma, KwaZulu/Natal, South Africa. He received his tertiary education at Columbia University, and at the New School For Social Research, both in New York City, USA. He has taught sociology and other social sciences at various tertiary institutions in and around New York City (City College of City University, Essex County College in Newark, Livingstone College, and State University of New York). He has also taught at the University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University), University of the Witwatersrand, University of Cape Town, and University of Zululand. He served as Deputy-Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission from 1998 to 2004. He has also served as Special Advisor to the Premier of KwaZulu/Natal (2005-2007). He is Chairperson of Vilakazi Development Strategies.
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