“For a colonised people the most essential value, because it’s the most concrete, is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dignity.” – Frantz Fanon
Twenty years after democracy, black people are still at the bottom of society. We, the black majority, are last instead of being first in our own country. Now we have decided to put black people first. It is only when we as black people are seen and treated as the rightful owners of this country that we will really be liberated and treated with the dignity that we deserve. The first step to black liberation – to achieve dignity and an end to white arrogance and racism – is Land First. It is land that will put blacks first. Without land we are nothing. With land we are everything we want to be and more.
In South Africa right now, there is no revolutionary movement that puts blacks and land first. We lost hope in the Economic Freedom Fighters when, in April, its president Julius Malema sold out on the land principle of “expropriation of [all] land without compensation”.
Malema assured the white agricultural capitalist class in Stellenbosch that as long “as it’s a productive farm, we don’t have to interfere with the production on that piece of land” and opted instead for the antiblack demand of expropriation and occupation of “nonproductive land” only.
He also told the land thieves that when there is a part of the land “which is not used for agriculture purposes, we would have a problem. All we are saying is the land must be used. It must not lie idle”.
He thus gave a guarantee to land thieves that “their” land was secure and that blacks would only occupy unused and unproductive land. What an insult. We don’t want crumbs. We want all our land because it is ours.
Blacks last in their country
Black people are last in all areas of life. First and foremost, we are last when it comes to land ownership. The white settler minority has the land while we blacks are landless. Out of the 54 million people in South Africa 35 000 white families, including white businesses, own more than 80% of the land. Since 1994, the ANC government has bought 8% of the land from whites at the cost of about R50 billion.
The ANC is using our money to buy back the stolen land.
Since 1994 more than 1 million black people have been forcibly removed from farms. Farm workers are slaves in South Africa.
The restitution-claiming communities, who are victims of apartheid land removals, remain landless after 20 years of ANC rule.
In urban areas black people have no housing because they are landless. The housing prices are out of reach for most blacks. In this context, most black professionals cannot afford housing because of landlessness. If we rely on the current land policies of the ANC it will take more than 100 years to buy back only 30% of the land.
Black people are last when it comes to employment
More than 45% of black people are unemployed compared with only 5% of white people. Whites are only 10% of the economically active population but occupy more than 60% of the top management positions.
Black people are last when it comes to income
White families earn six times more than what black families earn. A black family’s annual income is R60 000, whereas a white family earns an annual income of R360 000. On average, a black family comprises six people compared with a white family of three people.
Education and economy
We are last even when it comes to education.
Shockingly only 5% of blacks complete their university or tertiary education. Most black students are excluded from university due to financial constraints.
It is not a secret that black people are also at the bottom of the economy. To this end, blacks only own about 3% of the listed JSE companies.
Enough is enough. We have decided to fight for Black First through ensuring Land First.
All the political parties and social movements in South Africa are currently not for Black First and Land First. The ruling party and the opposition parties do not put black people first. The politicians are apologetic when it comes to the demands of blacks and in particular the resolution of the land question.
We hereby invite all those who believe like we do that it is time to put Black First! Land First! to hold hands with us so as to build a revolutionary movement based on two basic principles:
1. Black First
Black people are the first people on earth. We blacks gave the white world life and civilisation but slavery, colonialism and apartheid have put blacks last. We are now correcting this injustice by calling for Black First. By black we mean all those who are oppressed and dispossessed by colonialism and apartheid. The system of divide and rule has been sustained by creating misunderstandings among the oppressed. In this context the elites from within the black community have further fuelled tribal animosities. Black First seeks to end all divisions and contradictions among the people so as to consolidate them into a united strong block against white racism and dispossession.
Black First follows the liberating truth that “the last shall be first”. We have been overlooked for far too long. Putting Black First means ending suffering, poverty, landlessness and all the other ills of white supremacy that characterise the black condition. Black First is a call for blacks to love themselves, to care for each other and to fight for their liberation and dignity.
2. Land First
Without land there is no freedom or dignity. We want Land First because it is the basis of our freedom, our identity, our spiritual well-being, our economic development and culture. The land of Africans was stolen and this theft has rendered us landless in our own land. We want all the land with all of its endowments on its surface together with all the fortunes underground as well as the sky. All of it belongs to us. We are a people crying for our stolen land. Now we have decided to get it back by any means necessary.
Our philosophy of liberation is black consciousness and Pan-Africanism.
Our guiding philosophical outlook is both the black consciousness of Steve Bantu Biko and the Pan-Africanism of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, which we believe constitute a holistic single philosophy of black liberation.
The above philosophy encompasses “Sankofa” African wisdom as expressed by the symbolism of the Sankofa bird. To this end the Sankofa bird indicates our commitment to learn from the past so as to create the present and a new future. We must be committed to learn from all our past – from antiquity to yesterday – so that we may create a better and improved today.
A Sankarist Leadership ethos
We pledge to build a revolutionary movement that is Sankarist in belief and practice, following and honouring the revolutionary legacy of Thomas Sankara. We believe that for the movement to succeed it needs a servant leadership – an accountable, democratic, responsive leadership that puts black people first.
We invite you to come and build a revolutionary movement with us, to fight for the following ideals:
1. Land First. We will not buy back our stolen land.
2. Black First. The black majority must be centred and prioritised.
3. Mineral rights belong to the people. Let the people own and benefit directly.
4. Employment and a minimum wage. We need quality jobs now. A R12 500 minimum wage is nonnegotiable. We want employment protection, and sickness and vacation rights from the first day of employment. Equal pay must be legally enforced and realised. Labour brokerage must end.
5. We want a basic income for all, now. No one should go to bed on an empty stomach.
6. Housing is a right. All squatter camps must be eradicated in five years.
7. Healthcare is a right. Build hospitals and train nurses and doctors.
8. Antiracism. Declare racism a crime.
9. Antisexism and antihomophobia. Fight to end women oppression and homophobia.
10. Socialism. Only a fair distribution of wealth can bring about real economic freedom.
11. Pro-people industrialisation. Follow ecologically friendly industrialisation.
12. African dignity and unity. Africa is one and her liberation paramount.
13. Mental liberation. The biggest disease killing Africa is ignorance and colonial mindsets.
14. All elected members of Parliament and public servants must use public services.
15. The Thomas Sankara oath and the people’s manifesto are our eyes to guide us to total liberation for real.
16. Youth advancement. The future belongs to the youth.
17. Education for all. Mass quality education responding to societal developmental challenges and building a socialist people-first culture must be extended to all.
Politicians and political parties have shown their hands. They do not believe in what they say. They are too quick to sell out black people. No political party currently believes in Land First but we must not lose hope. We must build a new revolutionary movement that aims to overthrow this antiblack racist, capitalist rule that started in 1652 and was not ended in 1994.
Unorganised, we cannot win the battle for a free Azania. The time for Black First, Land First is now. Let us together turn this dream into reality.
» Andile Mngxitama wrote this piece on behalf of the interim national coordinating committee of the Black First! Land First! Movement.