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My name is Masilo Lepuru. I am an African-centred researcher and a Pan-African thinker. I am interested in African philosophy, history and literature. My writings are influenced by Garveyism and its pursuit of a race-first Pan-African revolution to create a new African world order. I am also interested in the study of South African history and political thought such as the Black Consciousness of Biko and Pan-Africanism of the likes of Sobukwe. However by biggest interest lies in the political philosophy of Anton Lembede. Lembede's Africanism is my passionate philosophical interest at the moment.v

The Sharpeville Massacre and the myth of “Human Rights Day”

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In 1983 a book entitled “The rise of Azania: The fall of South Africa” by David Dube of the Pan-Africanist Congress, a call for the liberation and defence of  Azania was unapologetically made by the Azanian tradition. The Charterist tradition under the African National Congress defended the white settler’s colonial name of “South Africa”. This dubious defence was informed by the historically misguided claim that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white” in the so-called Freedom Charter or the “Freedom Cheater” as Motsoko Pheko calls it. It is through this Kliptown Charter that the Indigenous people were cheated on their sovereign claim over a territory they occupied since time immemorial. The former president of the “new South Africa” Thabo Mbeki has recently reaffirmed the historically dishonest claim of the Charterists by stating that according to the ANC “our people” in relation to the land questions is inclusive of everyone in South Africa. Mbeki’s problematic reaffirmation echoes his dubious notion of an African which includes white settlers, some of  whom are attempting to “indigenise” themselves through the identity Afrikaners. To his credit, Mbeki unlike other opportunistic politicians and thinkers is consistent about his loyalty to the ANC’s historically misguided position on the land question.

It is this Charterist position which resulted in the split within the ANC and the fortunate birth of the PAC in 1959. This split which was spearheaded by the Africanists such as Robert Sobukwe cemented the antagonism between the Azanian school and the South African school with regard to the struggle for national liberation in South Africa. To the chagrin of the South African school, the Azanian school confronted white settler colonialism under the banner of Izwe Lethu on the 21st of March 1960. The South African school which is in government in the so-called post-Apartheid South Africa has declared this date as “Human rights day”. True to its tendency for historical revisionism in the interest of white settler colonialism, the South African school has distorted the history of the contribution of the Azanian school to the liberation of conquered Azania. When the Azanian school launched the positive action campaign on the 21st of March 1960, it was not fighting for “human rights” but was on the quest for the restoration of Azania to the Indigenous people as the rightful owners. The Azanian school under Sobukwe was influenced by the spirit of Pan-Africanism. Sobukwe was inspired by Nkrumah’s pursuit of independence in Ghana. 1963 was the important date for the Azanian school as it marked the deadline for the restoration of the land thus, a post-conquest Azania as opposed to the current “post-Apartheid South Africa”.

It is in this sense that the rejection of pass laws was just a preliminary phase to instil confidence in the African majority to reclaim their territorial sovereignty. For the Azanian school which was informed by the spirit of African nationalism of the Youth League’s Programme of Action of 1949, the African majority to whom the land belongs had to exercise their collective self-determination and win independence on their own. But because white supremacy as a form of “intellectual warfare” instils inferiority complex in the African majority, the Azanian school wanted to use the burning of the passes as a strategy to restore confidence. The rejection and burning of the passes was not just about the illegitimate laws of the Apartheid regime. These illegitimate laws were not the fundamental problem for the Azanian school as was the case with the South African school. For the Azanian school the fundamental problem in “South Africa” is not the Apartheid regime and its illegitimate legal framework but conquest in the form of land dispossession since 1652 in wars of colonisation by European conquerors. The latter and their descendants are not African and the land does not belong to them. The South African school on the other hand foregrounded the Apartheid regime’s segregationist legal framework as the fundamental problem.

The pieces of legislation which the Apartheid regime passed  were regarded as violating the liberal democratic rights of “our people” in South Africa. Jan Smuts as one of the racist founding fathers of “South Africa” was dismissive of the rights of the African majority despite his promotion of human rights abroad. A B Xuma and others within the South African school found this problematic and called for the “Africans’ Claims and Bill of Rights”. This is how the South African school fetishized the flaws of the Apartheid regime and embarked on the so-called anti-apartheid movement. For the members of the South African school, South Africa is not a problem but the Apartheid regime and its segregationist laws. The Azanian school confronted white settler colonialism at its core which is the land question, thus Izwe Lethu. The Apartheid regime was regarded as a mere virulent phase of white settler colonialism and white supremacy since 1652.

South Africa which was created on the land dispossessed from the African majority was the main problem as opposed to the ruling regime of Apartheid under the Nationalist Party since 1948. This is how the Azanian school embarked on the positive action campaign on the 21st of March 1960 to inaugurate the quest for “the rise of Azania and the fall of South Africa”. Sobukwe as the prominent leader of this historic quest made it clear that the ANC was no longer part of the liberation movement after ceding intellectual responsibility to white settlers. The ANC under the South African school fought for freedom and was willing to take “the long walk” to a “new South Africa”. The PAC under the Azanian school pursued the struggle for national liberation to restore a post-conquest Azania. It is in this sense that the 21st of March 1960 is not “human rights day” but symbolises the outstanding issue of the liberation of Azania from South Africa.

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