Kenny Motsamai's return to politics

2017-01-13 19:50

Kenny Motsamai, one of the principal commanders of the once feared and most violent liberation movement army in South Africa, the Azanian People's Liberation Army (Apla) was released from prison this week after he was locked up for 28 years.

The first thing Kenny Motsamai did coming out of prison was to kneel down and kiss the ground. In 1988 when the Pope came to South Africa he refused to kiss the ground because of the violence and tremendous quantities of blood that was shed by the apartheid government.

To others, Apla soldiers were chaotic and disorganized. But the very fact that they were loose made their fight against Apartheid telling. It was Apla not the ANC's Umkhonto we Sizwe that struck fear and terror in the hearts of Apartheid leaders. Umkhonto we Sizwe was more like a bureaucracy with central command

Today it was perfectly appropriate to kiss the South African ground as it is now the land of peace and healing. Particularly this being done by an Apla commander.

With that kiss on the ground Kenny Motsamai, was saying; I have traveled the journey from being a freedom fighter. There was a time for assuming the struggle with whatever means necessary, to slay the monster of apartheid with its violent nature. But now that we have democracy, it is time to heal, to reconcile, to rebuild. My experience taught me that it is beneficial for us to forgive those who in the past harmed us; that experience also teaches me that society should work to make evil people less evil.

It was not only the PAC that was tinted with anger, bitterness and the desire to get back at the White man. The entire 60s, 70s, and 80s PAC and ANC pushed in unison. The history of the two organisations cannot be separated from each other entirely, they affected each other directly and indirectly.

It was because of Apla, that the ANC gained much, it was Apla forthrightness with its less peaceful means that harassed, and struck fear and terror  in the hearts of apartheid leaders. Apla’s violent approach was a menace to the apartheid state. It was not Umkhonto we Sizwe that was a problem, (Umkhonto we Sizwe was a bureaucracy with dark spots of cronyism already emerging. It was easy for the apartheid state to plan around it, but not so with Apla).  Apla's nimble and agile attacks meant that its moves could not be predicted easily, it could not be pinned down. The Apla soldiers did not have to wait for an order from a central commander to act. Each cadre was free to strike anywhere any time at the moment's notice.

So much has been written about non violence methods of the struggle against oppression. That is worth saying it. But the reality on the ground is that non violence was always juxtaposed with armed struggle.

Dr Martin Luther King is known to have waged the American civil rights struggle through peaceful means. That he was a man of peace and love.

But what is not generally known or said is that Dr Martin Luther King had a very large army of gun toting supporters ready to defend him against the Whites.

Dr Martin Luther King's residence was full of guns everywhere. William Worthy, a journalist who covered Martin Luther King, reported that once, during a visit to King's house, he went to sit down on an armchair in the living room and, to his surprise, almost sat on a loaded machine gun.

Glenn Smiley, an adviser to King, described Dr King's home as "an arsenal of weapons." Martin Luther King believed in nonviolent struggle, but still recognized the armed struggle as perfectly valid.

Mahatma Ghandi, is also known as the paragon of non-violence. He preached that if people oppresses and attacks you, you must take it lying down. When people attacks you, don't counter attack them. But the reality on the ground is that Mahatma Ghandi sanctioned armed struggle for those unable to master pure nonviolence against evils.

It is like Malcolm X saying: "I don't mean go out and get violent; but at the same time you should never be nonviolent unless you run into some nonviolence. I'm nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me. But when you drop that violence on me, then you've made me go insane, and I'm not responsible for what I do. But I don't say form battalions and go out looking for white folks".

The last part of the quote is what the theory or thesis of the armed struggle rested. Do not go on attacking people, but when you are threatened or your people are threatened then sometimes you just have to be violent. In legalities it is called self defense.

Nelson Mandela fought great internal battles within the ANC, one of those being on the issue of the discontinuing armed struggle and banning Umkhonto we Sizwe. I don’t think that Nelson Mandela would have gone very far with the project of reconciliation without the help of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a fairly able pastor who had a huge platform across the country, had the weight to cool down heads. He had a raw talent of breaking the most hardened attitudes. His moral force in the hearts of people was that not many people went against him.

I am reviewing the history of the struggle against oppression, and in it we find the issue of violence. Violence against the oppressed people and violence against the oppressors as a form of counter attacks. This is the context on which Kenny Motsamai including other Apla cadres were operating on. And if ever this country is based on forgiveness, healing, reconciliation and love, then those principles should be extended to them.

We had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where the most violent deadly murders and evils were forgiven without any reservations. Why should the country be seen as one sided in its forgiveness? Why it seems some are more equal than others when deciding whom to forgive? Those are the questions people are asking.

How come was Kenny Motsamai was not forgiven and was left locked up in prison while others who did great acts of evil were forgiven? Why the double standards?

What will be the role of Kenny Motsamai in this dispensation? For a moment he is based at the EFF Head Office.

Kenny Motsamai in black with EFF Leadership

He will clearly have a huge role within the EFF. That means he will become part of our national politics, and will profoundly add a coloring to the development of our young democracy. His public appearances will reminds us of where we come from.

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