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A speech delivered at the Pan Africanist Women Organisation meeting, Soshanguve, South Africa, 1 October 2017
Mary Alexander

Despite many efforts to falsify the history of the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania, the heroes of Black liberation have sealed that history with their blood, sacrifice and noble service. But the fundamental struggle of the PAC continues, captured in the political slogan: Izwe Lethu! The Land is Ours! Freedom without repossession of land by colonially dispossessed Africans is a gigantic colonial fraud.

Programme Director, Distinguished Guests, Sons and Daughters of Africa:

I want to greet you with an important African proverb. It says, “Until the lions and the lionesses tell their own history, the history of the hunt will glorify the hunters and not the hunted.”

I thank the Pan Africanist Women’s Organisation, PAWO, for organising this historic event to honour our Pan Africanist heroes in this country.Your boldness, bravery, patriotism and admirable action remind me of those unstoppable African women who played a heroic role during the darkest days of this Continent and this country.

This timely event compels me to say, whatever the falsifiers of the history of the Azanian revolution may do to distort it, the forces of the Pan Africanist Congress and its component structures, dead or alive, have already sealed this history with their blood, sacrifice, suffering and noble service.

No mutilators of this history can destroy it permanently. The blood that was spilled in the anti-colonial battles of Mbashe, Ntlonze, Paarl, Villaperi etc. have already decorated that history. No lies written with computers can erase it.

Sharpeville Uprising, Langa, Soweto, Robben Island etc. are reflected in the revolutionary mirror of these heroic sons and daughters of Africa for authentic liberation.

It is Frantz Fanon, author of The wretched of the earth, who wrote:

“The seventeen days that shook South Africa and, indeed, the entire world from March 21 this year[1960] have an irrevocable turn in the history of the country. The Pan Africanist Congress and the urban proletariat intervened in their affairs and ushered in a period rich in historical perspective and pregnant with political possibilities for the democratic movement…Sharpeville has become a symbol. It is through that, that men and women in the world became acquainted with the problem of apartheid in South Africa.”

Affirming the revolutionary significance of this historic uprising, Bernard Leeman, an English professor of history, has recorded that, “Whites flocked to the Canadian and Australian High Commissions in Pretoria. They enquired about emigration. Many Whites bought guns. The helmeted troops patrolled the streets. In a single day the Pan Africanist Congress had changed South Africa forever.”

The PAC was only eleven months old when it delivered this staggering blow to the shattered and fear-gripped apartheid colonialist regime and its imperialist masters.

Which liberation movement in the history of the world and of this country ever expelled a colonial regime from the United Nations General Assembly? Let Tom Lodge, a university professor, tell or remind you if you have forgotten. He has written:

“In November 1974,the PAC succeeded in obtaining the expulsion of South Africa from the United Nations General Assembly, and in July 1975, the OAU Meeting in Uganda adopted as official policy a long document prepared by the Pan Africanist Congress arguing the case for the illegality of South Africa’s status [in international law].”

Indeed, as a result of this PAC startling performance, South Africa was expelled from the United Nations. Its colonial seat was given to the PAC in 1982.

Tom Lodge has spilled other beans. This is about POQO,the original name of the Azanian Peoples’ Liberation Army (APLA). Let me use his own words from his book, Resistance and ideology in settler Societies –Southern Africa Studies Volume 4:

“The military wing of the PAC –POQO - not only inspired activities in South Africa, but PAC insurgents were very much more numerous than Umkhonto[of the ANC]…in terms of geographical extensiveness, the numbers involved and its time span.The POQO conspiracies represent the largest and most sustained insurrection in South Africa in modern times….”

Tom Lodge draws attention to the political and scientific fact that “The persistence of the movement over a relative long time span and over a large geographical area qualify POQO to lay claim to being the most sustained insurrection by Blacks in [South Africa] in modern times.”

It must also be noted that the first military wing of a liberation movement in South Africa was formed by the PAC. That was on the 11 September 1961. Others followed later, finding POQO/APLA long registered its military prowess in the trenches.

Between 1962 and 1964 alone, 202 POQO fighters were sentenced to death for their activities to overthrow the apartheid colonialist regime. The bones of the 43 of these African heroes were exhumed in September 2017, a month ago.

The first political survey ever made in South Africa was after the formation of the Pan Africanist Congress on 6 April 1959.This survey was done by The South African Institute of Race Relations and released in 1964. It wanted to find out what support various parties had in this country. Their survey revealed that PAC had 57% support and the ANC 39%.

 The Pan Africanist Congress was declared illegal when it was only one year, one day old on 8 April 1960. This is the movement that made the unprecedented revolutionary performance underground for 30 years until when the 1994 elections were rigged in South Africa with President Bill Clinton of America, involved not only with dollars, but with his two agents Stanley B. Greenberg, his personal pollster and Frank Geer his image maker respectively, enthusiastically helping the ANC.

Greenberg has written a book on the 1994 South African elections. In his book, Dispatches from the war room, he says, “The Pan Africanist Congress was the only other Party with standing in the anti-apartheid movement – thus the majority of Africans favoured it….” But America did not favour the Pan Africanist Congress. Why? Greenberg has answered this question. “It[PAC] advocated expropriation of white land without compensation.”

This was, of course, false. It is the European colonialists who colonised Azania and renamed it South Africa through their Union of South Africa Act 1909, a British Parliament legislation. And through the Native Land Act of 1913 and Native Trust Land Act 1936 the colonialists allocated themselves 87% of African land and its mineral sources and left the crumbs of 13% to the African indigenous owners.

Anyway, when those who had declared in 1955 that the African country belonged equally to those who had taken it from Africans with their guns, lost the elections; something had to happen with the 1994 elections.

On 23 March 2009, Adrian Haland reviewed Greenberg’s book in the Cape Argus in Cape Town. He reminded: “In retrospect, we know that the election result [in South Africa] was contrived, consensual than literal.” All these three words mean that the elections were rigged.

According to Geddes & Grosset English Dictionary of 100,000 clear words and accurate definitions the word contrived has the following meanings or synonyms: “to scheme, devise, achieve by some ploy, design, skilful but overdone, to plan ingeniously, not spontaneous, not natural or not flowing.”

It was never the intention of the apartheid colonialist regime and its imperialist supporters to negotiate in good faith in Azania (South Africa). Let me give only two examples to illustrate this point.

As early as 1986, The Star newspaper in Johannesburg published an article written by Allister Sparks. It read: “To the left of the ANC is the Pan Africanist Congress, a bunch too radical for reasonable conversation….Unless the government talks to the ANC soon, and reaches an accommodation, the time will come when it would wish it had the ANC to talk to instead of the more radical organisations. Better by far to talk to the Mandelas, Tambos and Makatinis, conservative men all of them.”(STAR 18 June 1986)

The apartheid colonialist regime did not hesitate to accept this advice. Supported by Western countries with few exceptions, Dr. Gert Viljoen, the minister of constitutional affairs under F.W. de Klerk, in 1990 made his government’s position very clear about who the South African regime would negotiate with.

“We want to change our approach”, he said. “But we would be negotiating even the name [of the country]. Many blacks call it Azania. I think there is no likelihood of coming to an agreement with them. They are the extreme Pan Africanist Congress [PAC]. The name Azania sounds a warning note of break in history. In our thinking, a complete break in history would be unacceptable. We will have to provide some continuation of the past.” 

Indeed, that “continuation of the past” has continued unabated under the ANC regime for over 20 years. Whites who are only 8.9% still colonially own 87% of the land to 13% allocated to the African owners of the country, who make a good 79.2% of the population.

This land dispossession of the African people and its mineral resources and others is entrenched in section 25 of the “New South Africa” constitution falsely portrayed as “the most democratic constitution in the world.”

Much more can be said. PAWO has organised a historic event. We are not here for peanuts. We are not here for propaganda.We are here to celebrate a true history that must be preserved because it has been watered with much sacrifice, suffering and indisputably patriotic service to the people of this country.

Let me ask this question: Did Judge Curlewis of the Supreme Court of South Africa know more about the Pan Africanist Congress than some of its members? In his 5,200-page-long judgement which he delivered in July 1979, for four days amounting to 21 hours, he said:

“You, Mothopeng, acted to sow seeds of revolution. The riots you organised and predicted eventually took place in Soweto on 16 June and at Kagiso the next day…..”

He sentenced the organisers of the Soweto Uprising to 162 years in prison, giving “Uncle Zeph” Mothopeng his share of 30 years at 66 years of age.

I repeat: Did Judge Curlewis know more about the PAC than some members of the PAC?

He concluded his judgement by saying, “And then the last thing that I would like to mention…is [that] Pan Africanism is the goal of the Pan Africanist Congress…they propagate and promote the concept. This is also prominent throughout the existence of the Pan Africanist Congress…from the beginning of the organisation,they were radical in the sense that they strove for a fundamental change.”

Robben Island Prison, too, has registered the presence of PAC Freedom Fighters from 12 October 1962.They were the first to be imprisoned on Robben Island since the brave Makana in 1819, Maqoma in 1859 and Langalibalele in 1874 were imprisoned there. One of these PAC Freedom Fighters, Jafta Masemola, is the longest life serving prisoner in Robben Island in this country. By the way, there were no political prisoners for 88 years in Robben Island until PAC freedom fighters were imprisoned there in modern times.

Why were these PAC members in Robben Island? Prince Maqoma“uJongumsobovu” was imprisoned on Robben Island in 1859. He died there in 1873. He has answered this question. I quote him:

“We[Africans], are to repossess our land again. It was bequeathed to us by our ancestors, to hold, nurture and make it productive for their progeny (children). You [colonialists] came out of the sea to our land. Like a serpent you emerged out of the sea ….We waited to know why you had come. Instead we heard you are settling and taking more possession of our land. But this is our land.You made us vanish; not exist. We are our land. We cannot give up. We cannot rest. Without land, we cannot be.”

That is why the most meaningful political slogan in this country today is: IZWE LETHU! The Land Is Ours! Because no nation shall ever have Amandla (power) without land. Economic resources are in the land. Freedom without repossession of land by colonially dispossessed Africans is a gigantic colonial fraud. 

IzweLethu! Lefatshe la Rona!Shango Lashu! Tiko ra Hina! THE LAND IS OURS!

* DR MOTSOKO PHEKO is a historian, freedom fighter and former member of the South African parliament.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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