So over the past weekend I went on a road trip with three mates of mine. We drove down to Mpumalanga for a “boys weekend” away and over the course of the trip we talked a lot about pertinent issues such as race relations in South Africa, the lack of economic progress of the majority of black South Africans in a new, democratic South Africa and other such issues. As is typical in South Africa the issue of race cropped up in almost every discussion we had (of course this was amplified by the openly racist treatment we received from Blue Bull rugby fans, who are mostly Afrikaners, at Mbombela Stadium on Friday evening whilst we were watching the Bulls play the Mpumalanga Pumas.)What intrigued me was that we were a group of four young South Africans who all went to integrated schools, have had access to quality education and opportunities and yet in the midst of all of that we still found race and the unequal distribution of wealth along racial lines in South Africa, as a big generational challenge. This reminded me again of the importance of embracing the ideals, values and principles that Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe stood for and provides the perfect platform for this week’s column on the meaning and the message of the life of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe to contemporary South Africa.
- “Politically we stand for government of the Africans for the Africans by the Africans with everybody who owes his only loyalty to Africa and accepts the democratic rule of an African majority, being regarded as an African. We guarantee no minority rights because we are fighting precisely that group-exclusiveness which those who plead for minority rights would like to perpetuate. It is our view that if we have guaranteed individual liberties we have given the highest guarantee necessary and possible. I have said before, and I will still say so now, that I see no reason why, in a free, democratic Africa, a predominantly black electorate should not return a white man to parliament, for colour will count for nothing in a free Africa.”
- “I know I have been accused of being anti-white, not only by the government but also by others. But there is not one who can quote any statement of mine that bears that out. When I say ‘Africa for Africans’ I have always made clear that by African I mean those, of any colour, who accept Africa as their home. Colour does not mean anything to me.”
- “My instructions, therefore, are that our people must be taught now and continuously that in this campaign we are going to observe absolute non-violence.” (From a letter distributed by the PAC, written by Sobukwe advocating a non-violent resistance to the Pass laws, prior to the Sharpeville massacre.)
- “The old order is changing, ushering in a new order. The great revolution has started and Africa is the field of operation… We have made our choice and we have chosen African Nationalism because of its deep human significance; because of its inevitability and necessity to world progress. World civilization will not be complete until the African has made his full contribution. Even as the dying so-called Roman civilization received new life from the barbarians, so also will the decaying so-called western civilization found a new and purer life from Africa.”