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What Is holding up the total and final liberation of South Africa

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 27, 2018 former South African president Jacob Zuma stands in the dock of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg during his hearing over 16 corruption charges.<br />A public inquiry opened in South Africa on August 20, 2018, probing alleged corruption under scandal-tainted former president Jacob Zuma, who is accused of overseeing widespread graft during his nine-year reign. The inquiry, which could take two years to deliver its findings, is set to hear evidence of allegations that Zuma let ministries and government agencies be plundered for private gain in a scandal known as “state capture”.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / POOL / Phill MAGAKOE

The struggle for the total liberation of South Africa is still a liberation struggle.

The spearhead of that struggle, the African National Congress, was formed in 1912.

Four South Africans – Albert Luthuli (1961), Desmond Tutu (1984), Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk (1993) – have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the course of the struggle, and, are we counting? Because the struggle is still struggling. Why is this so?

Right now there is an inquiry going on in South Africa under the name of State Capture.

From various reports over the last 36 months or so, the government under former president Jacob Zuma is accused of massive repeat industrial-type corruption through the capture of crucial state organs by a few well-placed persons including one of the sons of the president.

Over the same period, the ruling African National Congress attempted to convince President Zuma that what was happening under his watch is corruption and that he should do something about it.

But, just like the Afrikaner rulers of apartheid South Africa, President Zuma sees nothing wrong with the phenomenon of state capture.

The experience of the South African liberation struggle teaches us that when the struggle is determined to liberate both the oppressed and the oppressor at the same time, total liberation take just a little longer.

The African National Congress has always argued that the liberation struggle in South African was of a special kind because of the domestic nature of part of the oppressing community.

While the British arm of oppression could go back to Britain at independence, the Boer arm that has lived in the country for 350 years has no where to go but South Africa.

How then do you fight an anti-colonial, anti-imperialist and anti-racist war against your not-so next door neighbour who needs, no, who insists on your manual labour if possible for free?

Mindful that you would still need to live with this community in perpetuity, you must convince it of the wrongheadedness of separate development or segregation or apartheid, which would disadvantage you in your own country.

And as long as he refuses to be convinced, so long would the liberation of the country be held back as is the case today.

Fundamental to all organised prejudice are danger and violence. What the Boer set up at the time of the Union of South Africa in 1910, and British agreed, is organised prejudice.

Dangerous laws were made to be defended by state violence. Only the threat of danger and the possibility of a violent opposition to the organised prejudice would solve the problem.

Yet, organised prejudice insists that those opposing it must oppose it by non-violence.

For decades, those who suffered from the apartheid laws of the Union of South Africa followed this non-violent path.

When the notorious Native Land Act was passed in 1913, the newly formed South African Native National Congress, which changed its name to the African National Congress in 1922, protested against the law.

The effect of the law is still a South African political reality today. That law gave 80% of the land to 10% of the population.

And even the 20% left for the black population was the drier, less fertile parts of the country. These became the Bantustans.

Even here the black governments of the Bantustans owned the land only down to six feet into the ground. Thereafter, the rest belonged to the white apartheid government!

How did the ANC try to convince the Afrikaner that apartheid was not a good thing and that sharing would be a better idea?

First of all, the Africans insisted on their humanity and asked the Afrikaner to recognise shared common humanity.

“You say you are Christians, believers in God and His children. We too are God’s children, believers too though darker skinned.”

The Afrikaners replied by passing the Dutch Reformed Church Act in 1911 which barred Africans from being members of their church.

Second of all, the ANC asked the Afrikaner to remember that if the Afrikaner did not stop organised prejudice, a day was coming when Nemesis would catch up with them and the aggrieved would avenge all the wrong that had been visited on him or her or it.

Nemesis is the Greek goddess “usually portrayed as the agent of divine punishment for wrong-doing or presumption.”

This warning is usually ignored in spite of the example of what happened in Haiti in January 1804.

On that date, the leadership of the struggle to liberate the slaves of San Domingue from their French enslavers, murdered all white men, women and children in the country with the injunction that no white person should ever step on Haitian land, on pain of death.

Appeals failed in South Africa. Appeals failed in Britain in 1914 when an ANC deputation took their case to the British King and then, to the British Parliament and finally it failed when they went to the British public opinion.

At home the ANC grew a Youth League that forced a more radical course of action from 1944 onwards including electing a different type of leadership in 1949.

In the meantime organised prejudice now had a government in 1948 when the Afrikaner National Party came to power.

This new ANC, in cooperation with other organisations opposed to apartheid, came together to compose what became known as the FREEDOM CHARTER, a document that forms the basis of the much admired South African constitution of today.

The first sentence of that document says: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, white and black.” That was in 1955.

In 1959, the Pan African Congress of Azania broke away from the ANC because it disagreed with that sentence.

More recently, the Black Consciousness Movement of Steve Biko arose, preaching black liberation by black arms, and unwilling to be part of the ANC.

Then the Congress of the People (COPE) broke away from the ANC. Then Julius Malema, former president of the ANC Youth League, was expelled from the ANC.

He formed the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who has sworn to take land back from whites and give it to Black people without compensation to any so-called prior owners. Is South African liberation finally in view?

bankole.omotoso@elizadeuniversity.edu.ng


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