In 1975 December the 16th, comrade Hlako Kenny Rachidi, was elected as the Black People’s Convention (BPC) third president, a position he held up until now. Therefore, he remains BPC’s last president and the president who buried Steve Biko (BPC honorary president). As we mourn this gallant revolutionary we do so without any sense of romanticism because comrade Rachidi presidency does not conjure the romanticism that comes with nostalgia but is in fact a great period of the history of the Black Consciousness Movement. When the philosophy of black consciousness organically emerged in the country and captured the imagination of the Azanian masses through the collective effort of Steve Biko and his comrades, its early stages and formative years saw it being a philosophy operating within a student movement. Though there is enough indication that the totaling effect of this philosophy seemed bigger than the South African Student Organisation (SASO). In fact, SASO had argued that we are black before we are students, thus validating that SASO was a launching pad of this great philosophy to have ever come out of the Black World in a very long time.
Between late 1971 to 1972 the Black People’s Convention was formed with one of the bravest revolutionaries as its first president, namely, comrade MamWinnie Kgware. BPC is very important in the history of the Black Consciousness Movement because it is in fact the first political organisation of the Black Consciousness Movement. BPC was a vehicle to foster black solidarity and direct confrontation with the apartheid regime. Certainly, the unanimous election of comrade Rachidi as president now and then espouses those intentions, which are critical in advancing the Azanian revolution. Comrade Rachidi already came into the Black Consciousness Movement already with struggle credentials as he had been expelled twice from two schools for political reasons. In 1966, he was suspended for a year at Fort Hare University and subsequently expelled from Fort Hare in 1968 before his graduation. Comrade Rachidi is indigenous to BPC as he was there from its inception and it is poetic that he rests as its last president. After his election as BPC president in 1975, comrade Rachidi expressed the significance of holding a congress in a township by asserting that we do this “to get to the grass roots of Black people and make them aware of the situation under which they live as well as to compound the philosophy of Black Consciousness”. The atmosphere at the start of the Fourth General Congress of BPC with shouts and salutes of Black Power reached its climax with the election of comrade Rachidi who after articulating the rejection of Bantustan politics, the link of grass roots and Black Consciousness led the Azanian masses with a Black Power salute to the streets of the township singing salute songs. This is the president who led BPC till its banning, this is the president who carried the coffin of Steve Biko on his shoulders and constantly raised his Black Power fist to express the determination of BC and its unwavering courage despite significant loss. This is the president who though hurt by the death of his own comrades and the deplorable and exploitative conditions of his people continued engaged in the Azanian struggle post the banning’s, his jailing in 1977 to 1978 and the subsequent regrouping of the Black Consciousness Movement in 1978. Even in the regrouping of the Black Consciousness Movement in 1984 he was elected the deputy president of Transvaal. He remained within the Black Consciousness Movement from its inception till now because he loves black people.
The Black Consciousness Movement-United (BCM-U) has no doubt that comrade Kenny Rachidi deserves to be honoured by all of us for his braveness, steadfastness and selflessness. The loss of this gallant revolutionary affects those immediate to him, his family and children. But it is also a great loss to us the Azanian people who belong to he and Steve Biko’s movement. But we are sure of one thing that his life is one that was well lived or as Mahalia Jackson used to say “I sing the life that I live”. Indeed, comrade Rachidi sang, lived and rests remaining who he was then and who he is now. Ossie Davis is correct when he says: “Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man—but a seed—which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us.”
REST IN POWER OUR BLACK PRESIDENT
ONE AZANIA ONE NATION
PREPARED BY: Cde Dr. Hlulani Mabasa (BCM-U National President)
ISSUED BY: Cde Zolani Mabusela (BCM-U Publicist Secretary)
Address: Renaissance Centre Gandhi Square 6 Floor Johannesburg 2000