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Raising up Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe 

/old_site_images/2007-04/sobukwe-month/sobukwe2.jpg alt=""/> Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, founding president of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and hero of the International African Revolution

AZANIA — Letlapa Mphahlele, President of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania, announced upon taking the reigns of the party in September 2006, that February 2007 was to be dedicated to PAC Founding President Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.

It was part of a general thrust of Africa History Month to raise the profile of African personalities who have contributed into shaping history. The month was to be called Sobukwe Month to give expression to the vision, mandate, values and immense contribution he made to the struggle of African people.

An Africa History Month should be unexpected in a free, self-determining Africa. This is an expression of the level of African people’s crisis as African history is still a sideshow depending on events, rather than being the informer of all social consciousness.

It is understandable to hold an Africa History Month in America or Europe as the indigenous people of those continents should learn about their history. It may be logical to expect to have a European history week or American history week on the African continent.

However, in the current situation, African children are bombarded in schools with European history and curtailed African history from a European perspective. These are things that should raise African national consciousness about our lack of liberation, freedom and self-determination.

Sobukwe Month met with excitement

/old_site_images/2007-04/sobukwe-month/LetlapaMphahlele.jpg alt=""/> Letlapa Mphahlele, current president of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania and veteran of the Azanian front of the African Revolution.

Mphahlele set out on the second national tour of Azania on Sobukwe Month. The first tour was to share his vision for the party to its members in their own provinces, and the Sobukwe month tour was to share with African people in general the vision of the party from its inception through the life Sobukwe.

Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe’s life did not contradict his words. He was a man who loved Africa and dedicated himself to Africa completely. Sobukwe consciously chose to abandon the privilege of being in the sanctuary of academia in the University of Witwatersrand to serve Africa and her children.

The Sobukwe Month Programme targeted various social sectors namely students, youth, workers and African communities in general.

The month-long campaign was publicly launched in style at the Kgalishiwe Township in Kimberly. It was launched in the house where Sobukwe was banished to and was restricted from meeting more than one person at a time.

The tour went to 28 schools where African students met it with excitement. The students were thrilled to be exposed to this information that the exploitative system hides from them.

University campuses were at centre of the campaign with massive student rallies in two University of Free State campuses, the University of Pretoria, the University of Limpopo, Tshwane University of Technology, the University of Western Cape and Walter Sisulu University.

Workshops and community meetings were held in areas like the Khutsong, Qwaqwa, East London and George raising the question of what would be Sobukwe’s response to the conditions of African communities.

The month was closed out on a high note with a rally of at least 20,000 people in Graaf-Reinet on February 24.

The media response was phenomenal as many editors took various positive angles on the life of Sobukwe including examining his thought, ideology and his contribution to humanity. There were no less that 50 articles written in relation to Sobukwe month, excluding coverage of the various Sobukwe month events.

The message that was carried out in the month was the call to build an African sovereign nation led by the African working class for the benefit of Africa and her children scattered all over the world. The sound of the drum loudly proclaimed a vision of Africa, free of all forms of domination including neocolonialism.

Sobukwe Month was about creating the hungry for total liberation from global white supremacy, raising awareness of the neocolonial modus operands of the imperialists and firmly inspiring in Africans the responsibility to free ourselves.

The rise of PAC in midst of ANC’s betrayal

/old_site_images/2007-04/sobukwe-month/200px-Paclogo.jpg alt=""/> PAC Logo

It is important to understand Robert Sobukwe in order to understand his politics and to understand what has made him such an excellent vehicle for African Liberation.

Sobukwe was born to poor farm worker parents in Graaff-Reinet in the Cape in 1924. The signs of brilliance he displayed as student earned him a scholarship to the Methodist School in Healdtown, in the Eastern Cape.

His active involvement in national politics began in 1948 when he joined the Congress Youth League, ANC’s youth organization, as a student in Fort Hare University. He was elected president of the Students’ Representative Council in 1949.

It was then that he first displayed his talent as an orator and the ideological clarity in his analysis of the connected elements that manifest themselves as a degrading and exploitive circumstance around African people.

He became a teacher at Standerton. However, revolutionary consciousness demanded the he defy the artificial professional ethics of being a teacher in the apartheid education system by speaking out in favour of the Defiance Campaign in 1952.

This resulted in him temporarily loosing the teaching post in Standerton. Sobukwe’s career was going well as in 1954 he started lecturing in African studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.

It was through The Africanist, a journal that he edited, that he expressed contempt of the African National Congress (ANC) for allowing itself to be dominated by what he termed “liberal left, multi-racialists” and rejected the idea of African struggle being controlled and directed by the European Diaspora. “The Prof”, as his friends called him, was instrumental in initiating a breakaway of the Africanists from the ANC that has become a tool for everyone except African people.

The dangerous document that the ANC called the “Freedom Charter” had replaced the revolutionary vision as documented in the Nation Building Programme of Action developed by Congress Youth League in 1949. The Freedom Charter gave the land to all who live in it thus systematically making it no longer the property of African people.

The fact that the land was the people’s source of conflict with the regime and the settler communities in general meant that Africanists could not be associated with such documents and an organization that embraces such a level of naivety or betrayal of fundamental principles.

Sobukwe: the most dangerous man to the apartheid regime

Sobukwe was elected the first president of the PAC at its inaugural congress in 1959. The PAC then launched the Anti-Pass Campaign on March 21, 1960. The system had used the control of movement for Africans to assure itself cheap labour and massive poverty stricken labour reservoirs. Its tool was the pass, which Africans were forced to carry with them or face terror.

In protest, Sobukwe led a march to the Orlando police station in Soweto to present himself for arrest for not having a pass, and he was joined by small groups of men from Phefeni, Dube and Orlando West on the way to the police station. Most of the marchers, including Sobukwe, were arrested.

There were marches in various parts of Azania with massacres reported in Langa, Cape Town and Sharpeville that brought the eyes of the world to the wicked system of apartheid, making it difficult for its allies across the world to justify its existence.

After Sobukwe’s arrest, he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. At the end of his sentence, parliament enacted the General Law Amendment Act, also called the “Sobukwe clause.” This law empowered the minister of justice to prolong the detention of political prisoners indefinitely.

Sobukwe was moved to Robben Island, where he remained for six more years. The State’s justification was that Sobukwe was the most dangerous man to the apartheid system. It was for the same reason that he was isolated from other political prisoners in Robben Island and even for the creation of Robben Island. The State feared that he would contaminate “common criminals” in a normal prison with his teaching of a Free United Africa.

The regime believed that his presence will transform meek political figures from reformist political parties like the ANC into serious threats, inspired to seek fundament change of relation between the European Diaspora and Africans.

Sobukwe used his time in permanent solitary confinement preparing to govern by pursuing his studies. He obtained an honors degree in economics from the University of London.

In 1969, the already poisoned Sobukwe was put under house arrest in Kimberley. He started a law degree, which he completed in 1975, when he started his own law practice. He had built his firm to continue the mission of serving his people through free legal service for many before he met his death in February 1978.

Robert Sobukwe stood for the establishment of an African Socialist Democracy that would serve his people from Cape in the South to Cairo in the North and from Morocco in the West to Madagascar in the East. It was to be run by African people for the African people.

This African Socialist Democracy was to be based on the African values of sharing and cooperative working ensuring that the wealth was to be distributed equitably among Africa’s children. Decisions were to be informed by desire and aspirations of African people scattered all over the world. Sobukwe condemned the neocolonial governance in these little microstates on the continent.

Though Sobukwe is no longer here, his spirit lives on in the struggle for Africa’s freedom, and his vision of a united and liberated Africa will be forged with our own hands. Long live Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe!

Long Live Comrade Ifetayo Folashade! 

/old_site_images/2007-03/ifetayo/Art_and_Soul_2006_026.jpg alt=""/>

OAKLAND, CA — On Tuesday, February 13, 2007, the heartrending news of the tragic passing of Sister Ifetayo Folashade spread swiftly throughout the Uhuru Movement. Sister Ifetayo, who joined the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) in 2001, had apparently died in her sleep.

Ifetayo was one of InPDUM’s Oakland branch’s most trusted and reliable members. She was elected to and held the position of treasurer until shortly before her untimely death.

Ifetayo was born on October 13, 1963 in Oakland, California as Gwen Carol Gibson. She grew up in the projects of West Oakland known as 24 Village or Campbell Village. Like most African families in 24 Village and throughout Oakland, her family was forced to survive on meager resources.

The lack of resources that she experienced during her early years in the 1960’s still plague the same African community in Oakland today.

The Uhuru Movement explains these conditions as being a result of colonialism — where African people are held under foreign domination by U.S. and European imperialism for the purpose of social, political and economic advantage. This explanation resonated with Sister Ifetayo, and she united with the Uhuru Movement’s demand for self-determination for African people.

Her first political work outside of Oakland, California was at the Millions for Reparation mobilization in Washington, D.C. She was impressed with the impact that InPDUM had made on the mass mobilization.

The more involved she became in the day-to-day work of the Uhuru Movement, the more her consciousness grew. She took on the African name Ifetayo Folashade that means “love brings happiness” and “ honor confers a crown”.

The following is a statement she wrote for Oakland’s membership Branch brochure:

“Why I joined InPDUM: The idea of an organization devoted to the freedom of the African community appeals to me in a big way. InPDUM answers the question, ‘Who’s going to take on the struggles of our people?’ We are — myself included.

InPDUM organizes against our daily suffering in the form of police brutality, the poor quality of education for our children, unaffordable housing and just plain old inequality. These are the reasons you should become a member. I know that the injustices facing the black community have touched each and every one of us at some point. When will enough be enough?

Becoming a member is your first step to a solution. Initiate change. Become a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement today!

Gwen Easterling, Oakland InPDUM Member”

Ifetayo always made sure she renewed her annual membership fee of $15 before prompting from the membership committee. Ifetayo — mother of two daughters, Shenelle and Sharyce —involved her family members in campaigns, fundraisers, and mobilizations sponsored by the Uhuru Movement.

After she attended a Party school held by the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) in St. Petersburg, Florida, she joined the Party. Ifetayo never lost sight of the reasons she participated in the tireless work of the Uhuru Movement.

“She was a valuable asset to the local organization and to myself personally,” stated Oakland InPDUM Branch President Bakari Olatunji. “Seldom was a movement mobilization without her presence during her nearly six years of participation. Death is about the only thing that would keep Ifetayo from doing movement work.”

Ifetayo had a moving funeral on Friday, February 23, where people came to pay their last respects, and spoke to the qualities that all came to know her for — her big infectious smile, her unique laugh, her gentle and loving spirit, her dependability, her love of comedy, television, and family.

Comrades, family, friends and co-workers spoke of this loving sister with praise and appreciation. Family and friends spoke of the person they knew as Gwen. The movement spoke of the person we knew as Ifetayo.

The home going celebration organized by the Uhuru movement and held at the Uhuru House was equally as touching as the funeral itself, rich in culture and spiritually uplifting. In addition, family and friends caught a glimpse of Ifetayo Folashade, the revolutionary.

Ifetayo’s involvement with the Uhuru Movement was her demonstration of her unity to forward the progress of African people fighting to be free. Long live the spirit of Sister Ifetayo Folashade!

Uhuru!