Fezekile Futhwa 

Revolutionary Relay - Write What You Like

BIOGRAPHY - POLITICS

It all began in 1990 when I was doing standard seven. Thahameso senior secondary school. I must say that until that point, I was relatively oblivious to the political ramblings in my country. Yes, I have had to run away many times from security police. I have seen black power and protests, but these did not hold much meaning to me. Until that point of my life. I was about 14 years old.

First there was Congress of South African Students with its ill discipline. Then there was the dying Azanian Student Congress. Then the SRC led by Moeketsi Lebesa, the now president of Dikwankwetla Party. Politics of these three organisations were really fools politics. No body really knew what was happening. We all became aware of the gross injustice of apartheid, well our lives were a living proof of that. But Cosas would usually act on some basis I could never understand. Its leaders were people who ran away from Gauteng and Kroonstad, away from the security police. So I figured they still kept tabs wherever they come from, and this must be the factor in the majority of matches and stay aways.

Umrabuliso wam came in the name of Tane Mofokeng, my best friend then. A very good chap at maths and the number one student in our class. He too was initiated in the pan afrikan ideologies of the Pan Afrikanist Congress of Azania. I say he too because it seems everyone around me was an umAfrika. My two brothers were, their friends and now this my friend. I now knew about the PAC, ANC and Azapo. I knew more than their existence, I actually knew their manifestos and had read a few banned books then. Nelson Mandela's No Easy Walk to Freedom was my first. My eldest brother owned a collection of these underground readings, and umAfrika he was.

Let me point out at the outset that my gripe with young politics at that time was really about morals. Young activists seemingly were encouraged or taught militant tactics that for me were counter productive. Recklessness, violence, alcohol abuse and rudeness were the trademarks of these young activists. These went against everything I hold dear. OomAfrika bona, PAC young gungs, were popular for smoking matekwane. It seems politics made sense to them after smoking the green herb. So for me I believed my path had to be different, and I chose amaqabane ami carefully.

And so here was Tane Mofokeng, a best maths student who did not smoke or drink, who wanted ukundirabulisa on the ideology of amaAfrika. So I listened with great interest. The brother was hooked and we became better friends now with politics a burning part of our discussions. And so I was formally introduced to the PAC and its local structures, albeit oomtsubane. I knew and was aware of MK and Apla recruitment efforts for training camps in Lesotho and Zambia.

My journey into political consciousness began. I read so many underground books which I still don't know where my brother got them. I am glad though that he had them. Strangely enough for me, it seemed we had more oomAfrika than we did ANC cadres in my village. And whether we liked it or not, politics just happened to touch our lives as students at various points. Poor school facilities, lack of teachers, lack of books, crappy books chosen for us to read, being chased by police for some unknown reason; it all just happened.

I have never held a membership to a political party, even though I tried. It seemed easier for me getting hold of their materials and teachings than it was to join. Ntate Mofokeng, chairman of the PAC in Qwaqwa can attest to this. I also realised that joining a party was a risky proposition as positions were vigorously contested in these parties. It seemed people were more concerned with positions than responsibilities that come with those positions. So I became a friend of political parties. At one point I actually even delivered membership cards for the PAC!

I must mention though that my political inclination coincided with the unbanning of political parties in 1991. So mine was an easy learning as one no longer had to hide stuff about politics. Plus I was no activist, I was more of a political student than anything else. I am immensely grateful to the PAC for its teachings to me. I noted with sadness their ability to teach politics versus their inability to rally and garner support for their movement.

I greatly enjoyed the works of Professor Themba Sono on the Black Consciousness ideology and the Black Consciousness Movement.

There is a book I read while in high school about the political history of Africa, which I unfortunately have forgotten its title and author. It is one of the best books I have ever read on the political rallying and organisation of all countries on the continent. Back then, it covered right up to Namibia's independe of 1990! I highly recommend that you get your hands on this unkown book, which I promise to locate again soon. It covers african nationalism, pan africanism and black consciousness as political ideas. It also looks at the relationship between Africa and the Africans in the diaspora, specifically their influence on local politics.

Pitty that the PAC, Azapo and BCM have since lost their appeal and relevance to the majority of this country. Their teachings and ideologies will forever be appreciated long after these organisations cease to exist. Their contribution to the emancipation of this country will hopefully be remembered, considering the coated history our school teaches today. But for me what must always be remembered is their contribution towards political education, especially their focus on black consciousness and black pride.

The PAC and Black Consciousness Movement of today are out of touch with the realities of South Afrika. The PAC manifesto remains the same one drafted in 1959 when the PAC was formed. The founding leaders had determined land to be the core in the emancipation of the people. Sadly, the PAC of 2009 has never been able to move past the land question. The BCM and Azapo remain intellectual organisations led by intellectuals. Their politics are academic and appeal only to the educated. They offer no practical solutions to the realities of our country, however deeply rooted their ideologies might be on black consciousness.

As hard as this believe might be, I believe the PAC and all its offsprings must cease to exist. I guess that Azapo will continue to stimulate the intellectual mind, however impractical in reality this is. The breakup in the ANC is good and to be expected. The second and last split will follow sometime between the next two elections. Then Mzantsi will have proper political parties past the liberation struggle.

From what I have been taught, I have been made believe that pan africanism is an off-shoot of african nationalism. And black consciousness an off-shoot of pan africanism. The latter appeals more to me than any other political ideology I have read about. Whatever political party you support, I would urge people to read the PAC manifesto of prior to 1994, it is a wealth of knowledge.

I must admit that I haven't read much about communism due to its relative wilderness in Africa, although Africans are communists by nature. It is for this reason that I am not familiar with the South African Communist Party. I have a rough memory of its origins. I realise and admit that one can never, should never, negotiate/debate from a position of lack of knowledge. As much as I dislike the present leaders of SACP, I realise the importance of learning more about the SACP.

I personally believe that every black person MUST know about our history, for it is in this history where lies great clues to our present state of affairs. As politically bankrupt as some organisations might be, I also maintain that parties like the IFP, Dikwankwetla and ACDP(whatever Lucas Mangope's party was during his Bophuthatswana days) must be looked into for their historic significance. Former apartheid homelands were led by black leaders, from whom I believe there are lessons to be learned. Especially by the ruling ANC.