OPINION: Langa tragedy should not be political football

2017-03-16 06:03
opinionVusi Mandindi

opinionVusi Mandindi

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The 21st of March in 1960, is a day when Africans stood out and decided to do away with “Dompass”, as part of the National Liberation struggle.

This day is one of the most talked about incidents in the fight against the apartheid system.

To date, I have witnessed rallies in remembrance of this day. I have read and listened to stories told by teachers, writers, historians and politicians.

I have noted that in all narratives everyone give salute to specific leaders and organizations. The story is told mainly from a political version and the political leaders are given the status of “heroes” of the day.

I therefore, believe that “real heroes” are the people that died on that day.

Little is said about the victims, and I don’t even know a single name or family details of the victims.

It seems such details are known by a select few. Why? I therefore give 80% respect to those that died, and 20% to the leaders.

Originally, this day was referred to as “Langa/Sharpeville Day”. Credit was given to a community effort. I bow my head for the 1960 generation, not because people died but for what they died for. They were killed for refusing to carry a “dompass”.

Ikhwelo elinje ngo 21 March 1960 kwa-Langa lafikelela kubantu ababe manyene, beyimbumba.

Lento ibonisa ukuba bekukho indlela ephucukileyo yokusebenzisana kuluntu lwethu.

Xa ndisiva, ngela xesha ebengekho umntu othi akazanga ukuzolungisa uLanga yena, ntonje uzosebenza yena eKapa.

Abantu baye bayakudibanela kulendawo namhlanje siyibiza “Sobukhwe Memorial”.

Kuthiwa babephumile abantu beyinkungu nelanga. Kwaye kukho nabavele ngee festile zase Old Flats. Bafika ke belindelwe ngamajoni.

Abantu ke babelindele impendulo evela kurhulumente wela xesha, malunga nomba we “dompass”.

Yaba ngumnqa kubo into yokuba impendulo kukudutyulwa ngembumbulu.

Kwaye kwathi sa, izidumbu zathi sa, kuzingxwelerha abanye besitsho izikhalo.

Emva koko uLanga wambeswa lilifu elimnyama.

I’m not happy at all that this remarkable and sad day is remembered only in political terms. It is honoured in the fashion of a talk-show, celebration or campaign.

For what I know, people celebrate victories or achievements. What victory do we celebrate when people died on the day? What victory do we celebrate when the majority of Africans are still poor and suffering? Political organizations are claiming glory and scoring points over this day. How can you score points and campaign over dead people? Were the people who died card-carrying members of a certain political organization? Does this day belong to a political organization?

Politicians must know that this day (21 March) cost lives and damaged our community, and they must stop using it as a political football. This has become a habit with politicians.

For instance, politicians today speak of a “minimum wage” when people wish for a “living wage”.

A friend recently asked what I thought Langa should do to honour this day.

I said: The manner in which we honour this day does not reflect nor give a true meaning of the tragedy that unfolded on the day of the massacre. We need to research more stories and names of the victims. We need to know their families.

We can also use their names instead of the alphabetical system used to identify the blocks that make up Old Flats.

I emphasized that this day should be treated as part of our heritage as a community. Therefore, we cannot allow that history to be washed away.

The Langa community must ensure that today’s generation is given the actual sense and feel of what really took place. All businesses, including taverns, must be closed on the day or for a few hours on the day. People should gather on King Langalibalele Street, in front of the Old Flats to observe a moment of silence in memory of the lives lost.

Even a 21 gun salute would suffice, as r our people died as heroes. I believe this would finally give succour to their souls.

I’m sharing this opinion in the belief that there is a lot more other community versions than being indoctrinated by political versions as if nothing else is out there. In conclusion, we need a radical shift in the manner we reflect and interpret our struggle history.

The struggle I know and that I fight for is the people’s struggle and not the leaders’ struggle. We are not oppressed as political organizations but as communities. This article is dedicated to all those that died in 21 March 1960, giving the most high regard to Professor Mangaliso Sobukhwe.

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