Remembering South Africa's "resistance to Apartheid"

2012-12-16 08:21

The centenary celebration by African National Congress (ANC) provides an appropriate chance to remember all those brave souls who fought to liberate South Africa from the oppressive rule of the Nationalist Party, white supremacy and the struggle for freedom and equality in South Africa.

Christopher Merrett in his article Complex History has aptly described the liberation struggle: “The political history of this country is highly complex. It was liberated not by the ANC, but by South Africans. And that in a year of potential ANC triumphalism is something that should not be forgotten. Liberation was made possible by South Africans who represented a wide swathe of political belief — Black Consciousness, liberalism, Marxism, Africanism and trade unionism as well as Charterism. And, as Desmond Tutu reminded us so eloquently when the Dalai Lama was refused his visa again last year, the churches and mosques, the temples and synagogues played their significant part too”.

Many organisations, individuals, institutions, people with diverse political beliefs and different religious groups also contributed to the liberation of South Africa and helped shape our constitution. Each one of them needs to be acknowledged, commended and remembered. We should never forget how much our freedom fighters and the different liberation movements had struggled to give us our different freedoms, which we so much enjoy to-day.

In saying this I do not imply that the ANC did not play a significant and major role in the liberation struggle. They most definitely did and especially their founding members and stalwarts need to be acknowledged and remembered for their bravery, vision and struggles.

We need to use the centenary to heal from our racists and atrocious past, stereotypes, socialisation and other harmful lived realities. We need to further ingrain and promote the vision of the real struggle heroes. We need to establish the true character of Ubuntu, co-existence, nation building and human values and morality.

In this regard I would like to introduce NEWS24 readers to a very significant book in which the author replays the story of resistance to apartheid and the struggle for a democratic South Africa.

The book,Foot Soldier for Freedom: A Life in South Africa’s Liberation Movement, is a life story of an ordinary and very humble woman, Rica Hodgson, who fought against fascism and unjust laws.

If there was ever any uncertainty that other communities, individuals or organisations like the Black Sash, Unity Movement (UM), Natal Indian Congress, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and international allies, just to name a few, did not play a meaningful role in the struggle against apartheid, this book will dispel that doubt. It must be remembered and correctly recorded and preserved that other racial and religious groups also played their part in liberating South Africa.

To quote Zwelinzima Vavi, Cosatu general secretary:  “If the international community had not supported South Africa in its struggle for freedom, we would still be under the apartheid rule”.

Foot Soldier for Freedom recounts the life of a tireless anti-apartheid campaigner. Amongst other interesting narratives and lived realities, Rica Hodgson, recollects how she and Maulvi Cachalia, who was a leader of the Transvaal Indian Congress, drove to Cape Town to collect funds for the Treason trial and how the Indian community as a whole made generous donations.

Rica also very passionately describes how she and her friend Amina Cachalia, was asked by Nelson Mandela to welcome and play host at his reconciliation luncheon to the wives of former apartheid presidents.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is keenly interested in furthering their knowledge about South Africa’s “long walk to freedom”.

The South African struggle against human degradation and for a life of dignity and equality reminds us that ordinary people on the ground can move mountains even when confronted by oppressive and brutal regimes.


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