Friday, 15 June 2012


It would serve the interests of agents of falsification to have students in South Afrika turn a blind eye to the attacks launched against the South African Students Congress (SASCO), particularly in this volatile period of our politics where coherent ideological discourse has been replaced with opportunism, careerism and patronage. It would serve agents of indoctrination to have students believing that SASCO is working against us and settling vendettas against the ANC-led government which some continue to claim is always representing the interests of the working-class majority of this country. It would serve the interests of factions born outside the student movement to have a youth that does not question anything; for fear that we’ll question the glaringly lugubrious contributions of those who claim to be genuine representatives of our plight. But beyond that, it would serve this country that finds itself engulfed in a state of defeatism to have young people volunteering themselves to abattoirs of tyranny, where lies are claimed and easy victories are won. But young people do not serve the interests of agents of falsification, indoctrination and induced soporification and thus, revolt against the expectations imposed by these people. We revolt against this for no other reason than that in everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the sun. And this is the season and the time for young people to cut the umbilical cord that binds us to the tyranny of our elders. This is a season and a time when we declare without fear or favour that education is a site of struggle that cannot be diluted with politics of men and women who start wars in parliaments and send us out to fight and die in them.


Three days ago, on the 12th of June 2012, the president of the Republic of South Afrika, the Honourable Jacob Gidleyihlekisa Zuma, announced a cabinet reshuffle that saw Mr Mduduzi Manana, a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC Youth League and youngest Member of Parliament since 1994, being appointed as the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, a position previously held by Ms Hlengiwe B Mkhize, who was shifted to the parallel economic development portfolio. Mr Manana’s appointment sparked a lot of debate in the country, with some sections of the populace declaring it a progressive move and some strongly opposed to it. Those in the former category include the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA), led by Buti Manamela, which, in a statement released on the 14th of June 2012, declared:

The YCL would also like to extend our congratulations to the newly
appointed Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Cde Comfort
Mduduzi Manana, a distinguished youth activist and leader of our ally, the
ANCYL and a former chairperson of a YCL branch in the Gert Sibande District
in the Mpumalanga Province. All progressive youth formations should join
hands in welcoming this appointment by the state president

This celebration was, of course, not shared by student formations. The South African Democratic Student Movement (SADESMO), in a statement released n the 13th of June 2012, had this to say:

While SADESMO is totally disappointed by the appointment of Mduduzi Manana as the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training we are certainly not surprised…SADESMO believes that Manana lacks the experience required for the grueling task of transforming the higher education sector, which we view as vital if we want to make education and training a top priority in South Africa…

However, the harshest criticism came from SASCO, the largest student movement in the country, which did not attempt to mince its views in a statement released the day before. SASCO, in a statement that informed the writing of this article, had this to say about Manana’s appointment:

Given our location in education and higher education in particular we feel obliged to express our discomfort with the appointment of Mduduzi Manana as deputy minister of Higher Education and Training. SASCO is utterly dismayed, taken aback, angry, flabbergasted, disappointed and annoyed at the appointment of Mr Mdu Manana (who happens to be our colleague in the PYA as a leader of the ANCYL) as the deputy minister of higher education and training. We do not have any reason to believe that Mr Manana is up to the task of being a deputy minister of such a complex and strategic department…” [Emphasis mine]

The statement by SASCO, and in particular the quoted paragraph, was received with mixed feelings, particularly on the social network platform where +/- 7.1 million South Africans converge daily (SA Digital Statistics, 2012). Criticism also came from other student movements (even those who in principle shared the views of SASCO but for reasons difficult to comprehend, felt it necessary to join in on the scathing attacks), who too claimed that SASCO was being reactionary and emotional in its response to Mr Manana’s appointment.


As indicated, according to those who have been spewing venom at the statement released by SASCO, the organisation is settling scores with the ANC that is allegedly marginalising it. Some have gone as far as to claim that SASCO is in solidarity with the faction within the ANCYL that has been at war with the president of the Republic and is using its influence within the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) to humiliate the president and the entire ANC. How such conclusions can be drawn from the statement is yet another mystery incomprehensible to some of us who believe that the statement is posing questions that beg for critical analysis.

SASCO, in its statement, attempts to explain the basis for its dissatisfaction about Manana’s appointment:

How on earth can our ANC led government appoint such a person with no track record on issues related to education, let alone higher education and further training in particular? We do not believe that Mr Manana will help us in dealing with the plethora of challenges in the higher education and further training sector. With all due respect to the erroneously appointed deputy minister, we are not convinced that Mr Manana has the capacity to diligently deliver in this department…

At the risk of inviting further attacks on SASCO, this statement shall be qualified. Manana, who obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN), reportedly has a long history of academic exclusions from various institutions, which he alleges were informed by “ideological differences”. While this in itself is a matter that need not be viewed in isolation from Manana’s contributions in the student struggle (having started at 14 when he joined the Congress of South African Students), it is a matter that begs for engagement. Indeed, academic qualifications alone cannot be used as a determinant of a person’s capacity to lead and deliver. However, in a ministry that already finds itself faced with a “plethora of challengesand in a country that is in urgent need of the over-hauling of the education system in its entirety, there is an vital need for qualified people with a clear vision to formulate strategies on educational transformation. It stands to reason, thus, that the most experienced and most qualified of people are the ones who ought to be placed in the driving seat of this ministry. The education system in South Afrika needs more than just political will and commitment from the government and all stakeholders. It needs people who have experience dealing with the on-going challenge of addressing the injustices of the past in the higher education and training sector. Unfortunately, an undergraduate qualification does not qualify as an indication of having dealt with this challenge at a highest level and thus, inspires no confidence in young people who are at the receiving end of the decay.


It is very easy to dismiss SASCO’s concerns as reactionary and emotional when one employs a microscopic view to the underlying issues that are facing the country and indeed, the entire Afrikan continent. However, when the retina is returned to our eyes and we thoroughly dissect the implications of a higher education and training sector in tatters, we will begin to understand how fatal a flaw it is to appoint persons with questionable abilities to the education department.

South Afrika is home to more than 58 mineral reserves in the world. 70% of them are in the platinum group metals, 40% is gold and 70% is manganese (Department of Mineral Resources 2009/2010 booklet). Historically, the economy of the country has been rooted in the primary sector. This is the sector that has the industries engaged in production or extraction of natural resources such as crops and ores and because of South Afrika’s mineral wealth, this sector has been the main driver of our economy. However, since the mid-1990s, economic growth has been driven mainly by the tertiary sector - which includes wholesale and retail trade, tourism and communications. As a result of this development, South Afrika is moving away from being an industry-based to being a knowledge-based economy, an economy which is directly based on the production, distribution and use of knowledge and information. For this reason, higher education and training is the most important sector in our country, for it is in it that producers of knowledge and information are manufactured.

South Afrika’s progress as a country and whatever policies and programmes we adopt, must at all times be in line with the objective of addressing the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and unequal distribution of wealth, all which are the chromatin network of a nucleus of historical colonial oppression and the heinous legacy of apartheid. As such, it is vital that the first sector that must have all energies employed into is the sector wherein the country’s future generations is located, for it determines whether we become beneficiaries of the apartheid legacy or agents of its annihilation. Such a herculean task dare not be left in the hands of anyone but a dedicated, committed and capacitated leader.


Having understood the context in which SASCO is raising its views, a context of Afrikan development, it becomes opportunistic and fallacious to want to claim that the organisation has any interests outside those of the future of the youth in this country. It becomes dangerous even, to want to dismiss its views as reactionary and emotional. We dare not allow agents of falsification, soporification and indoctrination to convince us otherwise, lest we flirt with our generation’s own demise.

It cannot be debated that there is a need for South Afrika to engage honest introspection that will lead to the removal of societal constructs that continue to hold us hostage, one of them being blind loyalism and the other being philistinism. These chains create limitations to our growth as a society, particularly for us young people who stand to inherit this country. Our loyalty shall never be to anything else but the ideal of a South Afrika in which those who are sent to tertiary institutions emerge as critical thinkers as opposed to functional illiterates as is the reality today. It should be to nothing else but the ideal of a country wherein education is taken seriously by the government, wherein WE are taken seriously by the government. So when debate is open, as it was with SASCO’s statement, we must not only engage it critically, we must engage it with honesty and an intention to gear it towards an Afrikan developmental agenda. Failure to do so will spell the beginning of the end and the end of what could be the beginning of a much needed mental revolution.


Malaika Wa Azania (Daughter of the soil)

Minister of Land Affairs 2033

**The author is not a member of SASCO. She is a concerned first year student at a reactionary university somewhere in the Eastern Cape. She writes in her own capacity.


Cellphone number: 076 538 1557

Friday, 8 June 2012


Today, occupied Azania is sitting on the threshold of Youth Month, a month in which young people are commemorated for their contribution in the struggle for the liberation of South Afrika. June is a month with colossal significance in the country, for in this month, we pay ode to the most courageous revolutionaries of our time. But unlike other days when we commemorate individual heroes, such as the 27th of February when we remember the founding president of the Pan Afrikanist Congress of Azania (PAC), Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, or the 6th of April when we remember the former General Secretary of the South Afrikan Communist Party, Chris Hani, in the month of June we remember a collective. We remember all the unknown heroes and heroines, the sons and daughters of the soil who perished in the quest for a better life for our generation. It is for this reason that Youth Month is a significant month in South Afrika. For one month in our calendar, we remember ordinary people who did extra-ordinary things, as opposed to extra-ordinary individuals who achieved extra-ordinary feats.
Occupied Azania, reactionarily known as South Afrika, is a country that has a history written in blood. It is a history spanning over many centuries, a history that narrates centuries of harmony and also, centuries of turmoil. The misconception that the history of this country began in 1652 must be annihilated, for it is a construct of the White world that seeks to measure the journey of Afrikans using a White ruler. Our history began before our colonisation. It began at a time when our people were one with the earth, when no human-being was subjected to the brutality of starvation, destitution and poverty. It began when families were the very heartbeat of society, moving around in search for food and grazing fields for the cattle. It began when men hunted animals to feed their families, when feeding human-beings meant more to society than feeding off them as is in the current world that is defined by a quid pro quo existence. But we would be economising with the truth if we claimed for a second that Afrikan life before the arrival of settlers was all tranquility and no strife. Indeed, occupied Azania knew struggling before it knew the struggle. It knew of societies divided along class lines. It knew of societies divided along gender lines, for in primitive Afrika, the subjugation of the woman, subliminal though it was, could be witnessed. The domestication of women began before the settler arrived. It began with declaring her incapable of performing certain tasks. It began with relegating her role to that of a subtle serf. It began with her dismemberment, for in seeing her only as a vessel that would bring life, the woman was stripped of her potential to be more than just a mother and a wife. She was defined under the confines of both constructs. But this was Azania, and although the subliminal class and gender divides were present, there was a level of tranquility that would be disturbed by the arrival of settlers in 1652.
The Azanian narrative begins to take a different shape in the seventeenth century. It is this chapter that is often told, though I am of the view that even its narrative is somewhat flawed. The arrival of the settlers on Azanian soil deepened what had been very subliminal class and gender divides. It pitted Blacks against one another and Blacks against a system designed to create of them slaves. And thus began the history of a struggle as of yet not won: a struggle for the repossession of native land, native economy and above all, native mind that was systematically corrupted with ideas of its supposed inferiority. This is the struggle that birthed the greatest revolutionaries of our time. This is the struggle that saw millions of Black people at one point or another, taking to the streets, hurling themselves in jail cells and even bravely walking like lamb to the slaughter, into abattoirs wherein their last breathes would be taken. Bantu Steve Biko, Lillian Ngoyi, Khotso Seahlolo, Tsietsi Mashinini, Alfred Nzo, Solomon Mahlangu and many others, became products and casualties of this struggle. But beyond that, they, with millions of others, became its stars.
We have witnessed in occupied Azania, a sickening obsession with arrogating struggle victories to political formations at best and individuals at worst. The Pan Afrikanist Congress of Azania (PAC) has invested more resources and time in the fight to claim the Sharpeville/Langa Massacre as its own victory than it has in conscietising the toiling masses of our people using the very powerful tool of pan Afrikanism that it claims to be guardians of.  The Sharpeville/Langa Massacre, which occurred on the 21st of March 1960, marked a turning point in the struggle for liberation.  After a day of protests against pass laws by Black people in various townships across the country, apartheid police, outnumbered but with sufficient ammunition, fired at unarmed crowds, killing 69 Black women, children and men in Sharpeville alone and many others in Langa township (Cape Town), Vanderbijlpark and other parts of the country. This event gave birth to the armed struggle, which was fought hard by military wings of various National Liberation Movements. But the massacre itself was NOT a convergence of comrades. It was a convergence of ordinary men and women who had been organized into a coherent force of resistance. Sadly, when the PAC narrates this story, it conveniently forgets to mention that those who perished were not card-carrying members of the party. They were not schooled in its literary history and they may or may not have even known of the existence of the organization prior to the day of their mobilization. They were simply ordinary people who could no longer sit idle as their dehumanization deepened. But with the characteristic dominant in political organizations, the PAC wants to pretend as if it alone took part and thus, it alone must be celebrated, congratulated and paid ode.
 The Afrikan National Congress (ANC) has equally spent even more resources and time convincing the world that it alone is the vehicle that transported the country to the democratic dispensation that it enjoys today. The story of the ANC is even more brutal, for it has filtered into textbooks that are supposed to be keys that unlock our generation’s doors to prosperity. Had I not decided to explore alternative information, I’d have been under the false impression that the struggle for liberation began in 1912 with the formation of the South Afrikan Native National Congress, which would later be renamed the ANC. This is the impression very conveniently created by the ruling party; an impression that until its formation, Black people were not already engaging in battles against their oppressors. From the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879 to the Bambatha Rebellion in 1906, our forefathers were already fighting against White domination. Unfortunately, to know this, one must first dig into ancient archives, for current ones designed by the ANC only narrate the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale and all others in which it played a significant role.
It does not only end here. Student movements in the country have also fallen victim to this sickening reality of claiming to be champions of certain victories. The South Afrikan Students Congress (SASCO) continues to project the false view that it alone fought for the introduction of student funding from government. It refuses to acknowledge and recognize that other student formations, including the Pan Afrikanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) and the Azanian Students Convention (AZASCO) were very instrumental in the fight for Tertiary Education Fund of South Afrika (TEFSA) which was established in 1991 and would, in 2000, be renamed the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). NSFAS “seeks to impact on South Africa`s historically skewed student, diplomate and graduate populations by providing a sustainable financial aid system that enables academically deserving and financially needy students to meet their own and South Africa`s development needs”. But collectively, these student formations too continue in the footsteps of their mother-bodies, undermining the vital role played by the ordinary sons and daughters of the Azanian soil, who too were confronted with police brutality when protesting, who too sacrificed their time, resources and ideas for the realization of free quality education. It has become normalised to treat the non-partisan like ornaments that decorate protests as opposed to fuel that drives them.
The obsession exhibited by political organizations with arrogating struggle victories to themselves is not where the death of our society ends. It continues further with these political formations using individuals as sole epitomes of revolutionary excellence.
In 2011 I was invited as a guest to address a hall full to capacity in Pretoria. The occasion was the Annual Robert Sobukwe Day Memorial Lecture, hosted by the Pretoria region of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA). The instruction on what to focus on was rather ambiguous. All that I was instructed to do was to give a lecture on the founding president of the PAC. But I felt that re-telling stories about Sobukwe that are already known would serve no purpose. Every year at the Sobukwe Memorial Lecture, the story of the man is told and ret-told by many people using different words and quoting different literature. But it remains the same story: a story of Sobukwe who led the PAC after Afrikanist left an ANC that had taken an off-ramp on the philosophy of pan Afrikanism. This great man that is Sobukwe led the PAC and masterminded the anti-pass campaign and was arrested in 1960. In 1963 when he was supposed to be released, the Sobukwe Clause was passed and this man was kept in solitary confinement on Robben Island prison, where he endured extreme torture in the hands of White policemen. He was released nine years later and confined to Kimberley, where he became a lawyer and helped the toiling masses of our people. In 1978 he died of induced cancer and Azania lost a true gem.
This is the summary of the repeat presentations and although true, the story of Sobukwe has become more like a church hymn than an inspiration that is yet to be actualized. So I opted to make an impromptu presentation, which I titled “Sobukwe Must Rest In Peace for the PAC to Awaken”. My argument, in summary, was that the PAC died with the death of Sobukwe in 1978 and all that remains of what the PAC once was, are memories stored in the minds of APLA veterans. I went on to argue that if the PAC is to claim relevance in the current discourse, it must first let go of Sobukwe as a person and build onto his very progressive ideas, which continue to be relevant in the current dispensation. This was not too well received by the old men and women who have spent their entire lives kneeling before Sobukwe’s grave and praying to him for answers. However, it remains an argument that I hold.
Steve Biko too has become another idol with followers ready to defend his name. It is almost impossible to disagree with Biko’s ideas, particularly in the current Black Consciousness Movement and the pan Afrikanist bloc.  I have experienced the wrath of “Biko scholars” on very many occasions; people who simply refuse to listen to any critique of the man. In their eyes, everything Biko said is correct. Everything Biko wrote is relevant and the man himself is a God. If you want to experience the wrath of BC comrades, who don’t hold back when condemning President Jacob Zuma for polygamy, mention the fact that Biko himself had a wife (maNtsiki) but also fathered three other children with two different women, including revered activist, Dr Mamphele Ramphela. Mention this and it is the end of you. But beyond questioning the morals of Biko, critiquing certain ideas that he held is not encouraged.
And yet I want to argue that both Biko and Sobukwe must be allowed to rest in peace. Their ideas must never die, but the sentimentalism around them needs to end. The philosophy of Black Consciousness existed long before Steve Biko formed the South Afrikan Students Organization (SASO). Before he could internalize the ideas, they had already been rooted in other parts of Afrika and in the diaspora. The same is true of pan Afrikanism. Before it could be defined and made relevant to the Azanian question, it had been made a reality in Tanzania, in Ghana, in Kenya, in Haiti and in many other parts of the world where Afrikans were asserting their place in the human race. What exactly does this mean?
It means that Biko and Sobukwe learned from those who came before them, but went further to strengthen the ideas. They learned from the mistakes of Ujamaa Socialism as committed by Julius Nyerere and the errors of Afrocentricism as initially committed by Dr Kwame Nkrumah. They studied how best they can make these revolutionary ideas applicable to the situation in Azania, as opposed to taking them as gospel.
Today, however, we are not building onto what Biko and Sobukwe left behind but rather, are taking what they said as gospel and thus, commit the errors that they committed as opposed to rectifying them. We continue to define Black Consciousness according to Biko and pan Afrikanism according to Sobukwe, as if the ideology is no different to the men, as if the men are themselves the ideology.
Nelson Mandela must die. Not Mandela as a human-being, but Mandela as an idea. He must die because he is an albatross tied around the necks of Black South Afrikans, who are held captive by his problematic legacy.
Before he even became the president of South Afrika in 1994, Mandela had already become a drug. His name had been elevated above the revolution itself, such that the struggle had its own meaning but assumed a subordinate place next to Mandela’s. The South Afrikan struggle for liberation was a struggle by the people AND Mandela against the system. It was not a struggle by the people against the system. No. Mandela had to be included, but not as one with the people, because he was a collective on his own. The cry for the release of political prisoners was a cry to “Free Mandela and other prisoners!!” and in Robben Island there was “Mandela and other prisoners”. But when he became the president of the Republic of South Afrika in 1994, the Mandela became more pronounced, more massified and ultimately, more problematic to the progress Black humanity.
Today, as young people, we continue to find ourselves entrapped by Mandela’s legacy. In our institutions of higher learning, where we are subjected to racism and being patronized by White students, it is a herculean task to raise certain views, because they offend some people, who are under the impression that Mandela’s declaration of reconciliation was endorsed by all citizens of South Afrika. This reconciliation, which is projected by him as a complete erasure of our painful past, through speeches aimed at forgiving rather than going to the core of the problem, is not the one that we want. It is not the one that we have defined. But fear to offend the old man has resulted in a situation where all we say must be filtered, so that it sounds reconciliatory and neutral in the ears of the White world as opposed to being as brutal as the Black reality.
The ANC has also capitalized on Mandela. It uses the old man to entrap the masses of our people, who are still suffering the raw bruises of apartheid. When at first this was subtle, the recent election campaign proved just how ruthlessly the ruling party is using him. “Do it for Mandela”, read the print on t-shirts of ANC membership and leadership during the campaign. This is an ANC that has in the last four years had many of its leaders, including its president, embroiled in corruption allegations. This is an ANC under whom research has proven that R30 billion is lost annually as a result of corruption. This is an ANC that has subjected our people to open toilets, under-funded hospitals, learning under trees, e-tolling, a World Cup tournament that sucked the last drop of life from the coffers of the country. This is an ANC under whom old men and women feel nostalgic for the apartheid regime. But this ANC cannot be held hostage by those it is meant to serve, though for it to take us seriously, this is what needs to transpire. But we cannot hold it hostage because we are expected to show our gratitude to Mandela, the individual who on his own, without the aid of the common man and woman brought us democracy.
The only way that South Afrika, which is still very volatile in terms of race antagonisms, can move forward, is to address the race question as honestly as possible. This will not be done with the Mandela idea still so pronounced. The idea must die! And when that idea has died, we must use Black Consciousness to take us forward. Bu this Black Consciousness philosophy needs to be relevant and practical to the current issues. To do that, we must strengthen what Biko left us with, not simply regurgitate everything he said. And when we are Black Conscious, we shall engage the possibility of a united Afrika, not in the construct of Sobukwe designed in 1960, but in our own definition and narrative.
Our generation must produce its own revolutionaries…We need new heroes!

Malaika Wa Azania



On the 23rd of May 2012, I eagerly left my freezing residence at Rhodes University in the tranquil Eastern Cape and headed to the Gauteng province with an immeasurable level of excitement. The foundation of my excitement lay in my primary reason for coming to Johannesburg: to honour an invitation that I had received a few weeks before from the Chief Executive Officer of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, an invitation to attend the Annual Thabo Mbeki Afrika Day Lecture. I was excited about the nature of engagements that I expected would take place, engagements that I assumed would give some kind of direction to the Afrikan narrative that continues to be defined within the constructs of neo-liberalism. The following day, as I made my way to the ZK Matthews Great Hall at UNISA Muckleuneuk Campus in Pretoria, I could hardly contain my excitement.
Let me make it clear that at no point was I under any illusions about the ideological orientation of the former president. Mr Mbeki has never been a pan Afrikanist, despite being defined so by people who are not well-schooled in the ideology that gave the Afrikan continent giants the likes of former president of Burkina Faso, Thomas Isidore Sankara, former leader of FRELIMO, Samora Machel and former leader of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere. I have always understood Mbeki to be a Black Consciousness scholar whose full categorisation into the said philosophy is prevented only by his questionable free market fundamentalism. Nonetheless, I have always respected the man for his endless capacity to dissect questions that beg for critical analysis in the Afrikan discourse, questions not frequently asked in a continent that is defined by dishonest politicians, apologetic statesmen and a people who remain trapped in a perpetual state of defeatism. In a society that has normalised and legitimised philistinism, Mbeki has emerged as one of a few intellectuals, but whether the intellectualism is geared towards a progressive direction in the long-run is a debate for another day.
The 2012 Annual Thabo Mbeki Afrika Day Lecture, entitled “Afrika in the New World Order: Challenges and Opportunities”, began at 18h00 on the 24th of May inside a hall full to capacity. The theme of the lecture was a pellucid reflection of where Afrika currently finds itself. Decades into what is regarded as an era of independence, the continent continues to be trapped in chains of neo-colonial rule, battling to assert its sovereignty that is under the attack from Western and Eastern powers. Despite the fact that it is the richest continent in the world in terms of natural resources, Afrika finds itself in economic bondage, a result of centuries of colonisation and manifestations of scientific racism, which in South Afrika, gave birth to the apartheid ideology, a nefarious system that resulted in the dispossession of land, economy and humanness of the Black majority. It is for this reason that the theme was an important subject that had the potential of becoming a national debate long after the lecture had passed. But failure by the former president and his guests to capitalise on this potential resulted in a lecture that is going to go down the books of history as yet another talk-shop of the intellectual elite that produced no solutions for the Afrikan problem.
It would be futile to reflect on the 2012 Annual Thabo Mbeki Afrika Day Lecture without first dissecting the basis of such discussions. Now more than ever before, there is a need for the Afrikan continent to engage in meaningful debates as a method of introspection for a continent that finds itself theoretically liberated but still on a quest for absolute liberty. For many centuries, the Afrikan continent has been under the domination of Europe and the East (while its role is downplayed, it’s no secret that the first colonisers of the Afrikan continent were, in fact, Arabs, as early as the eleventh century). The West and the East have both arrogated themselves the right to dominate the continent and reduce its natives to their subordinates. In a quest for the strengthening of their economies, the United States of AmeriKKKa and Europe began the trans-Atlantic slave trade, wherein Afrikan people were forcefully wretched from the orbit of their existence and sent to toil in the cotton fields of the AmeriKKKas. The fruit of their labour became the backbone of the superpower’s grand economy.
Over and above Afrikan labour being utilised to give life to the global capitalist economy, raw materials from Afrika were appropriated by forces of imperialism. It is for this reason that we say that Afrikans were dispossessed not only of their economy and land, but also of their humanness. The making of an Afrikan slave was the relegation of Afrikans from human-beings into something that is only important for the labour that it can provide and the domination that it can endure. It was the relegation of Afrikans from the human race, a relegation which we have spent centuries fighting against. And yet, despite Afrikan countries re-claiming their “independence” from their former colonial masters, the continent remains trapped in a dark abyss. The current political situation is proof of this. We have in Afrika countries that are still under severe oppression, the likes of Western Sahara, a country forgotten by all. We have in Afrika countries that are still reeling from the effects of atrocities that happened in the not-so-distant past, the likes of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have in Afrika monarchs whose existence survives on the oppression of the people, the likes of Swaziland. And we have in Afrika countries that can only feed their people through foreign aid. But above all, we have in Afrika leaders who refuse to rise against forces of their oppression, leaders who sit idle as global powers make of the continent a prostitute. This pitiful state of fragmentation has destroyed gains that were made by yesterday’s revolutionaries and has taken an Afrika that had progressed a step forward two steps backwards. This volatile political situation is what informs and necessitates Afrikan dialogue. It is important that we have discussions around such serious questions, so that we can find solutions to what former president of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah termed “the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty and scarcity in the midst of abundance” (I Speak of Freedom, 1961).
The Afrikan problem, as briefly explained, is a labyrinth of centuries of colonial domination, of current lack of political will and of an uncertain future. But while it is important for us to re-visit this past so as to gain an understanding into the nucleus of today’s problematic chromatin network defined by poverty, landlessness, unemployment, cultural disorientation and liberalism, it is equally important that we begin to shape our own destiny. We must collect the scattered ashes of our painful past and re-create an Afrika that will be fit for human habitat.
It is improbable to imagine a progressive Afrika under the current system. In fact, it is impossible to imagine a world fit for human habitat in a free market economy. In a free market economy, where wealth and power are in the hands of an elite minority, it is not possible to create a society where the value of human life is placed above the value of powerful currencies. Afrika and her people thus need to centralise dialogue around the exploration of a system that will annihilate the constructs responsible for its state of destruction and that system can only be Socialism. This must not be understood to imply that Afrika’s are going to be obliterated by this system, for even in that society there will exist new challenges that will require the commitment of Afrikan people to overcome. But it is vital that Afrikan people cease to attempt to locate solutions within the matrix of Capitalism and shift the dialogue to Socialism, for “socialism in Afrika introduces a new social synthesis in which modern technology is reconciled with human values, in which the advanced technical society is realised without the staggering social malefactions and deep schisms of capitalist industrial society. For true economic social development cannot be promoted without the real socialisation of productive and distributive processes”, (Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Afrikan Socialism Revisited, 1967). It is for this reason that the 2012 Annual Thabo Mbeki Lecture was most disappointing. None of the panelists attempted to address the real issue: the system that is keeping Afrika and her children in chains. And without addressing this fundamental cause of the challenges facing Afrika, there is little progress that will come out of any engagement.
Professor Barney Pityana, who gave the introductory statement, presented one of the few important arguments that were made on the night. His intentions were clearly to take a swipe at certain people in corridors of power rather than to educate the audience about what I deem a vital matter, but such is the norm in South Afrikan debates, a norm that has been legitimised by even the most intellectually astute of persons. The professor raised the question of philistinism, what he so aptly termed “a phobia of intellectuals and intellectualism”, a problem that has indeed engulfed a country that once birthed the minds of Onkgopotse Tiro, Oliver Tambo, Robert Sobukwe, Khotso Seatlholo, Bantu Steve Biko, Albertina Sisulu and Chris Hani, some of the best thinkers known to history. Indeed, in Polokwane we did witness the beginning of the end of a society that encouraged and nurtured thinking, replaced by one where misuse was not limited to state resources, but to brains as well.
Professor Pityana’s concerns must be taken to heart by all of us, but student leaders in particular, for theirs is an important task: to groom the leaders of tomorrow, who are heirs to the throne of a crumbling South Afrika. It is not debatable that seeds of corruption, careerism and populism are growing at an alarming rate in student movements in South Afrika. The degeneration of student movements in the country must not be neglected, for “if not tackled with contempt, it shall take student movements straight into the dustbin of history” (Vusi Oldman Mahlangu, 15 Years of the Student Movement’s Revolutionary Struggle: Marking PASMA’s One and a Half Decade of Mobilisation, 2012). South Afrika needs a revolution of a special type, a mental revolution. This revolution needs to destroy the elements of the current epoch where the phobia of intellectual discourse has found firm rooting.
I would be economising with the truth if I fail to express a view I hold, that Professor Pityana, His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, His Excellency Pires, His Excellency Chissano and Professor Landsberg themselves showed an advanced detachment of philistinism. Theirs was rooted more in failure to provide pragmatic solutions to Afrikan challenges in the new world order and even to correctly dissect the nucleus of these challenges. The four gentlemen spoke nothing that sounded like real politics, focusing instead on non-issues that are too far divorced from the realities of the toiling Afrikan masses. Theirs was a convergence of former presidents afflicted with nostalgia. The panel discussion possessed characteristics of an Oprah Winfrey show, with the exception that Ms Winfrey’s audiences at least leave the show with a gift, be it a car or a shopping voucher, whereas Mbeki’s audience left with nothing but the satisfaction of having seen Mbeki physically.
The struggle for meaningful debates must continue. In every platform accorded to us and that which we create, we must continue to ask questions that matter and provide solutions wherever we can. The responsibility of re-writing the Afrikan narrative rests with us, young and old. It rests with all those whose ideas and resources are geared towards an Afrikan developmental agenda. I have no doubt that even with his Afrocentric views, Mr Mbeki falls under this category. But next year’s lecture needs to offer us more than what this one did if we are to use him as a think-tank for Afrika’s revolutionary vision. It is not enough to quote and reference great scholars of yesterday if they are not going to help create solutions for the struggles of Afrika today.

Malaika Wa Azania
Minister of Land Affairs 2033

Critique of "15 Years Of The Student Movement's Revolutionary Struggle: Marking PASMA's One And A Half Decade of Mobilisation"


Comrade Vusi “Oldman” Mahlangu’s document titled “15 YEARS OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENT’S REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE: MARKING PASMA’S ONE AND A HALF DECADE OF MOBILIZATION”, which he delivered at the 15th anniversary celebration of the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA), co-hosted with the Free State provincial congress in April 2012, is undeniably one of the most important contributions to the on-going national dialogue on the struggles for education in post-apartheid South Africa. It is especially poignant for the critical questions that it raises in the second decade of a democratic dispensation that has brought about a decline in struggles geared towards the improvement of the provision of free quality education for the working-class majority in South Africa.
Eighteen years into a dispensation revered for its democratic principles, the working-class majority of South Africa continues to be on the receiving end of the brutality of the legacy of apartheid, an ideology whose roots are located in colonialism and scientific racism. Children of working-class parents, in particular those of the Black race, continue to be victims of this heinous legacy. When they are not having the doors of learning shut in their faces as a result of their inability to mobilise resources needed to access an education that has been commoditised, they are frustrated by subliminal institutionalised racism which is designed to create colossal barriers to their academic excellence. It is for these reasons stated above, and many others that I have not mentioned, that student activism is as necessary today as it was during the apartheid regime. And it is this necessity that dictates the importance of young people, the motive force of a revolutionary dictatorship, engaging in constructive dialogue aimed at the annihilation of constructs designed to retard their human progress and potential to change the working-class narrative that is defined by systematic soporification and structural subjugation. While as comrade Vusi correctly puts it, “Students on account of social disposition do not constitute a class...merely learning strata in a transitory period of their life”, there exists a direct link between student struggles and the struggles of our broader society, for it is in institutions of learning that societal constructs are reflected and in fact, in institutions of learning that the ruling class ideology that is the nucleus of working-class oppression finds its agents and legitimacy.
However, comrade Vusi stands charged for his failure to critically dissect certain questions whose necessity in any dialogue on student struggles is pivotal, among them, the role of student movements in the struggle for gender equality. In a country defined by heteropatriarchal racist foundations, where the subjugation of women has been systematically legitimised and naturalised within most cultural, economic, social and religious spaces, there is an urgent need for student leaders to re-write the gender narrative. After all, these agencies play a significant role in the normalisation and reinforcement of particular ideas about gender and sexuality. As a result, the messages that they manufacture are a direct illustration of the colonialist liberal ideology, the nucleus of all societal ills that the African continent and the world in its entirety is engulfed by.
 What is also lacking in the comrade’s paper is a coherent interpretation of the cause rather than the factors, of philistinism, which is necessary to dissect if we hope to create a significant paradigm shift in the education discourse. As Edouard Bilong, a Cameroonian scholar and current president of Vision Africa Changers so aptly put it:
You can have all solutions in the world but if you do not know what your problem is, you are simply wasting your time. Knowledge comes through information. If you are not informed, you are deformed. However, if you are informed you become reformed. Again, knowledge brings discovery. If you do not discover, you will never recover. Africa has lost so much in so many ways; but if we do not discover the cause of our problems, we will never recover” (2008:14)
PASO era: Genesis of PASMA
The falsification of the history of student struggles and the history of South Africa in its entirety has birthed a disturbing culture of struggle privatisation, where student organisations and political parties wrestle one another for the title of struggle champion. The struggle has ceased to be a reflection of a war waged by the oppressed majority of our people, instead becoming an event that one political party or student movement claims as its own creation.
Comrade Vusi is thus correct in his assertion that “NSFAS is a product of fierce struggle fought by revolutionary student movements in the country”. There is, however, an element of malicious spitefulness in the comrade’s assertion that “It was PASO and organisations like AZASCO and others who advanced the struggle that gave birth to TEFSA that was to be later called NSFAS”. This spitefulness is not only part of a chromatin network whose nucleus is an attempt to isolate ordinary non-partisan students from the historic struggle for free and quality education, but it tethers on the brink of economising with the truth. By 1987, two years before the formation of the Pan Africanist Student Organisation (PASO) and four years before the formation of the Azanian Student Convention (AZASCO), students were already waging a war against the capitalist machinery throughout the country. At the University of Bophuthatswana, for example, learning was brought to a halt for three months between April and July when students protested against the administration. A month later, at the University of Natal in Durban, students boycotted classes in protest against the institutionalised racial streaming that saw White students receive better resourced facilities and privileges which Black students were not afforded. These are two of many examples that illustrate the role that was played by ordinary students, aligned to no political organisation, in the pursuit for the de-commoditisation of education. They informed the formation of the National Education Crisis Committee (NECC), formed in 1986 with the objective of coordinating education struggles. The NECC launched a campaign in January 1987 to force institutions of higher learning to take in deserving Black students who did not have the financial resources to afford tertiary education.
 In a quest to emphasise the role played by PASO in the fight for free education, comrade Vusi commits the same error that “rival student organisations” commit, that of claiming the victories of the struggle without the inclusion or even the mere mention of ordinary people, whose contribution is just as significant as the student organisations’. This fatal flaw must not be neglected, lest PASMA assimilates into struggle privatisation.
Degeneration of the student movement in the country
Comrade Vusi’s request that “We should reflect on the emergence of uncharacteristic populism and co-option into inherent corruption” is corroboration to my assertion that there is a need for African student movements to engage in honest introspection that will lead to the removal of systematic imposed myths and limitations that are the building-block of the soporification of students from working-class backgrounds. PASMA and indeed all student movements in the country cannot afford to remain imprisoned by notions that undermine their revolutionary potential in the driving of the country towards a destination of a non-racial, non-sexist and classless society.
To achieve fruitful introspection that will produce critical solutions to the problem of the degeneration of the student movement in the country, it is vital that there is less lamentation and more employment of mental and physical energies in the implementation of coherent revolutionary programmes that will amalgamate the struggles of students with those of the broader society to which they belong.
Comrade Vusi once again raises important questions around the participation of students in structures of institutional governance, which as he correctly puts, “is not an offence on its own and if used correctly can play a revolutionary role for the advancement of our cause”. Over the years, we have witnessed the exponentially increasing cunningness of the system in the neutralisation of students through the dangling of privilege in their faces. Many attempts have been made by university managements to “bribe student leaders into accepting the co-option into institutional forums and thus being part of the reaction and counter-revolution that are dominant in our institutions and represents deceptive mechanisms by which the dominant forces of bourgeoisie academia and bureaucracy, whose ideological and institutionalised political hegemony is unquestionable, attracted to the ranks of the student movement elements of populism, opportunism and pure careerism that are not motivated by passion to serve interests of the destitute masses of our students from the exploited working-class backgrounds”. Institutions of higher learning, having decided to apply a definition synonymous to that utilised by the corporate world in the definition of itself, have become no different in operation to mega corporations that survive on the exploitation of the proletariat.
We have seen the introduction of Student Representative Council (SRC) benefits by tertiary institutions’ management. Theoretically, these benefits are supposed to ease the burden of financial constraints on student leaders in their revolutionary ventures of fighting on behalf of the student population. But in reality, these benefits serve as a tool for the creation of a buffer between management and students. Student leaders who sit in SRCs can no longer drive the vehicle of student struggles as a result of the fear of losing resources that many of them, because of their own material conditions, need desperately. Their vulnerability is used by management to neutralise them and in that way, capital’s objective of demobilising ostracised students from working-class backgrounds is achieved.
Comrade Vusi’s call for the boycott of SRC benefits and the intensification of campaigns for their abolishing is indeed the most revolutionary, albeit controversial, call that I have heard expressed by anyone from the rank of the student movement. This progressive call will accomplish two important things: exposing the ugly face of capitalism and arming students with tools that will help them in the fight for the survival of their own civilisation.
Part of the dominant view of students and youth today presents them as helpless, disorientated and a “lost generation”. For those who sit in the corridors of power, this is a convenient view which achieves the strategic aim of reinforcing passivity in the face of enormous social problems facing students and youth. But if student leaders can boycott SRC benefits, they will be strategically exposing the fallacies that are cemented by capital, which operate on a false premise that young people do not possess a sense of how their specific concerns are part of the concerns of the new social movements that exist in the country today. They will be forced to create linkages with these social movements that are involved in a myriad of local struggles and organisations. This move is guaranteed to create and accelerate a domino effect of societal change that is not only needed, but is long over-due.
Relations with the PAC and sister component structures: A call for one youth movement
There is a tragic irony in the reality that the pan Africanist bloc in South Africa, in the African continent and in the Diaspora is the most divided of all existing political blocs. One of the fundamental pillars of the philosophy of pan Africanism is unity among Africans. But over the years, we have regrettably witnessed the decay within this bloc. The pan Africanist bloc’s division is a result of both internal and external factors, among them the emergence of a culture of careerism and opportunism that has found a home in elders who were once drivers of the revolutionary vehicle of Socialism. This has resulted in the crisis state that many pan Africanist organisations, including the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) find themselves in. The battle against neo-colonialism, as though it is not herculean on its own, has been amalgamated with the one against a dictatorship of the comprador bourgeois elite that calls the pan Africanist bloc its political home.
Frantz Fanon haunts us with his words, which are most apt in the discourse about the future of the pan Africanist bloc in South Africa, which is undeniably left in the hands of the giant student movement that is PASMA. He says:
 “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it in relative opacity”.
It becomes necessary that the membership and leadership of PASMA engages in crucial organisational introspection. Two solutions are immediately available: either PASMA drives a massive campaign to have generational mix that is inclusive of young people from the ranks of the student movement or it explores the question of autonomy from the PAC. The former will achieve the vital aim of allowing new ideas to filter into an organisation that finds itself in the hands of a leadership still afflicted with pre-1994 factional nostalgia while the latter will make allowance for PASMA to define itself outside the confines of what could become a Titanic whose sinking is inevitable unless urgent and drastic intervention is made.
 The current generation of PASMA must decide which solutions is best suited to be employed in the quest for the salvation of the soul of pan Africanism, a philosophy that us students in the Environmental Science discipline would undoubtedly declare an endangered species. But this is a discussion for PASMA and indeed, all components of the PAC.

Malaika Wa Azania
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