“Remember Africa – remember Sobukwe” – February 2011

In the dawning hours of the 21st of March 1960, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe left his home in Mofolo, Soweto and began the 5km walk to the Orlando Police Station.

In so doing, he was personally putting into action his nation-wide call for a decisive non-violent campaign against the “pass laws”.

As President of the Pan Africanist Congress, Sobukwe had called on all Black South Africans on this day, to leave their pass books at home, walk to the nearest police station & demand arrest.

Heeding Sobukwe’s call, Black South Africans presented themselves for arrest – at police stations countrywide – in their thousands.

For Robert Sobukwe, the 21st March 1960, began like any other day.

By nightfall, his actions had determined the course of history in South Africa.

Sixty-nine people died in the hail of police gunfire at Sharpeville that day.

The shooting reverberated around the world and emblazoned indelibly the profile of apartheid oppression on the consciousness of the international community.

Caught off guard, the regime was now fully aware of Sobukwe’s enormous influence and power.

He was imprisoned for three years.

Determined to neutralise his influence, on the eve of his release three years later, the regime passed a bill through parliament – the so-called “Sobukwe Clause” – which would enable his indefinite incarceration – as they put it – “this side of eternity”.

Throughout his life, Sobukwe held the unshakable belief that, in his lifetime, South Africa would be part of a liberated united Africa.

On the 27th February 1978, Robert Sobukwe – at the age of 53 – died of lung cancer.

Sadly he did not live to witness his oft-stated dream of South Africa’s youth walking tall in a country they call their own.

Potentially one of South Africa’s greatest leaders, Sobukwe once wrote:
“True leadership demands complete subjugation of self, absolute honesty, integrity and uprightness of character – courage and fearlessness – and above all, a consuming love for one’s people.”

Tragically, South Africa has been denied the contribution of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.

Nevertheless, his legacy lives on!

Remember Africa… remember Sobukwe!

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