Youth must think outside the box

2015-10-07 06:00


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AS the Congress of South African Students (Cosas), we raised funds from students for the burial of Papi Makotoko and for the erection of his tombstone in the Mangengenene Cemetery in Mangaung.

The funeral drew provincial and national interest and was attended by Zinzi Mandela, the daughter of our struggle icon, Dr Rolihlahla Mandela. Zinzi delivered the keynote address at the funeral. The funeral was marred with sporadic incidents of stone throwing, targeting passing-by delivery vehicles.

Other sources of financial assistance were the Black Sash and the South African Council of Churches (SACC) at the then Khotso House in Braamfontein under the leadership of Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Lest I forget, we also got assistance from Comrade Winnie Madikizela Mandela, who at times would recommend and donate money for services of the best human rights lawyers in the country. Winnie was like a mother to us and she never for a single moment let us down.

We were always welcome at her house in Brandfort, where she was under house arrest.

We used to hold our regular meetings at the high schools of Sehunelo and Vulamasango. Other venues were churches like St Peters and St Patrick’s and the Baptist Church at Bochabela as well as the Holy Cross Church in Phahameng. Venues also included several community halls around Mangaung. Certain comrades would sacrifice their homes for meetings, such as Comrade Jani Oliver Mohapi at whose home at Phahameng Zinzi Mandela and Comrade MK Malefane were often part of the meetings. They gave the input, guidance and direction of the ANC in exile and sometimes provided smuggled information from ANC leaders at Robben Island. Other venues were at the houses of Comrades Mathata Menzi Letshabo and Diphoko Tshitlo in Bochabela.

As part of Umgabolo, we used to read books like Mayibuye and Nelson Mandela’s No easy walk to freedom, which we got from underground operatives like the late Comrade Steve Bogacu and Comrade Andy Sefotlhelo, who was later detained and sent to Robben Island.

We were also given cassettes to listen to freedom songs and speeches by our leaders in exile. We also listened to the banned Radio Freedom, which was connected by Comrade Tebogo Leshabane. This we did by hiding ourselves in one of the backrooms of his home in Maleleka Street in Bochabela.

Some pamphlets were smuggled from Robben Island and I remember reading one of them at the 16 June Commemoration Service, held at the St Patrick’s Church at Bochabela. It read thus “mobilise, organise, unite, educate and fight on” and it was written by Nelson Mandela.

In 1984, Comrade Cameron Kopane and I were privileged to be part of the night vigil at Huhudi near Vryburg. The vigil was organised to resist the incorporation of Huhudi into the then Bophuthatswana Bantustan.

The vigil was organised by the late Comrade Albertina Sisulu and the Black Sash organisation and we were invited by comrade Darkie Afrika and Comrade Bushi Maape from Batlharos near Kuruman.

The vigil was a monumental success as Huhudi was never incorporated into the then Bophuthatswana Bantustan.

In conclusion, my message to the youth of today is, “Freedom is in your hands.” So please be committed to the cause and strive to protect and preserve our hard-earned freedom at all costs.

Furthermore, our youth need to work very hard towards the achievement of total economic emancipation of our people because without it our freedom will not be complete. My wish is that each and every youth need to belong to the structures of the ANC so that they can be nurtured, educated, trained and engaged to take over the mother body when their turn comes.

This can only be achieved if they are united, disciplined, committed to the cause and working as a collective to build a strong ANC. Experience has taught us that through a concerted effort and unity so much can be achieved.

Lastly, there are a few things I want to advise our youth on, especially youth structures within the ANC.) do not create factionalism within the structures of the movement;) do not promote camps;) do not allow yourselves to be used as tools for dividing the movement;) do not be blind followers;) avoid harmful and abusive use of alcohol and drugs;) do not over-indulge in drinking and partying;) do not be disrespectful to senior members within the movement, but rather engage constructively with those who hold different views;) do not get involved in gangsterism and satanism; ) do not drop out of school.

Our youth must start thinking outside the box. They must access funding and create sustainable jobs for themselves by becoming entrepreneurs.

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

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