Honour all those who liberated us

2015-09-16 06:00
DIPHOKO SENOKOANE

DIPHOKO SENOKOANE

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FIRST and foremost, I wish to take this opportunity to salute and pay my respect to our fallen heroes, heroines and youth of our generation who contributed so immensely to our liberation struggle.

They fought so bravely, brilliantly and with resilience until the end. Those are the sons and daughters of the soil and I regard some as unsung heroes and heroines. They fought with everything they had, from sacrificing their lives, families, jobs, education, careers and even their professions.

Some were brutally assassinated by the security police of the then apartheid regime. I do not want to single them out as the sole freedom fighters or liberators as people across the spectrum contributed in their own ways.

Some were killed, some were forced into exile and some were detained in solitary confinement under the notorious and diabolic security laws. All this happened at the hands of the notorious security police.

I was born and bred in the dusty streets of Mangaung during the hard times of apartheid when freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom of association were restricted.

This era was the height of separate development, whereby people of South Africa were divided in residential areas based on the colour of their skin.

Apartheid was even entrenched in the workplace and business outlets where one shop would be divided into two, one side reserved for “Whites only” or “Blankes alleenlik” and the other for “Non-whites” or “Nie-blankes”.

At many social amenities, these signs were very conspicuous. All of the abovementioned government policies in the preceding paragraph, prompted me to take a keen interest in the civic politics and politics in general.

As a history student in high school, I started to tell myself that what was happening to the black people in South Africa could not be left unchallenged and something needed to be done to change the situation.

As it was not easy to get banned literature and other information which made us aware of the struggles for freedom around the globe; we depended on the material we received through smuggling from neighbouring countries and abroad, which we shared amomgst ourselves.

As a high school history learner, I was introduced to the French Revolution, the USSR, Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte and philosophers such as Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Socrates and Martin Luther King jnr.

I found these people very inspirational and I felt that for us to dismantle apartheid we needed to follow in their footsteps. I also became interested in reading the books of African writers, such as No longer at ease and Things fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Weep Not, Child by Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Maru by Bessie Head.

I was further inspired and impressed by Long walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Higher than Hope by Fatima Meer, I write what I like by Steve Biko and The Man by Irving Wallace.

My comrades and I also used to listen to Radio Freedom which was broadcast from Tanzania.

This is my own initiative, not because I am an author, writer, columnist or even an intellectual. The reader should please note that I am just a groundlevel activist who happens to volunteer to amass information about the happenings of the past in Mangaung during South Africa’s unfortunate past.

The rationale behind the whole exercise is to eventually develop a document of some sort and, if needs be, a book to reflect on the revolution in Mangaung since 1977 to 1981.

I am an active member of the ANC and former secretary of Kopano branch in ward 21. I relocated to Thomas Mtobi Mapikela branch in ward 18.

What surprised me was that the Soweto uprisings were well captured in 1976. Soweto is where it all started, but other townships from other parts of South Africa followed suit, that is why even Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) comprised cadres from across the country.

Some people, through opportunism and populism, shot to prominence and fame at the expense of the activists of the time even though they were not even activists at the time.

The other unfortunate aspect is that comrades of the time were never given due recognition. Perhaps this article will remind people who the true activists of that era were.

So many things happened in Mangaung from 1977 and the subsequent years. Maybe it is time that someone go back to consult, research and even interview relevant people of that era.

It can only be in the best interest of the greater Mangaung to have that history documented.

This serves to suggest that a clarion call be made to all those who have what it takes to start taking note of the historic happenings around their area.

)This is part one of a four-part series about the role of youth in the struggle for freedom in Mangaung between 1977 and 1981.

) Part two will be published next week

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