Robert Sobukwe’s movingly life is fast becoming the epitome of change politics these days. Be it on falliest radical status messages or Memorial lectures to counter the overly celebrated ruling party’s struggle leaders. Last year, the icon appeared as the point of reference for the #FeesMustFall movement.
However, Sobukwe is not just another struggle icon. He’s the founding president of the Pan Africanist Congress (of Azania), responsible for the March 21st, 1960 nationwide protest against the Pass Law. It’s been a long episode to the deserved acclaim for the late political dissident from the small Eastern Cape Town, Graaff-Reinet, who started his political journey as a member of the African National Congress Youth League.
In 1959, Sobukwe and Africanists identifying ANC members broke away from the party in objection to the Freedom Charter and the inclusion of the Communist Party of South Africa in the political formation. The break away was to bring to fruition, Sobukwe’s Ideological Africanist outlook that seeked to address prevailing material conditions for Africans by a formal systematized Apartheid regime.
The history of his political career thereafter till his death in 1978, is a remarkable one, it includes a “Sobukwe Clause”, Robben Island imprisonment, internal exile and the Sharpeville Massacre. A great story to follow up.
What intrigues me it his dedication to a Pan Africanist dream. Which is the action of rebirth of Africa through African dictation, without western intervention. The dream also a platform in which former South African President Thabo Mbeki built his version of an African Renaissance. The link being an attempt to mobilize Africans in unity against the consequences of colonialism by adopting an African (own) identity and liberation, independent of western and colonial influence.
To say I am a fan of the militancy of the then Sobukwe led PAC politics would be a lie but I cannot ignore the aims and the dream he had for South Africa, especially to the fact that his ideology speaks of a self-empowering Africa, an agency needed to ensure a favorable discourse, literature, economic emancipation, lasting peace and stability in the whole of Africa.
A lot has been said about Sobukwe and his politics. But one thing remains, South Africa and Africa lost a leader who would’ve led the decolonization project for the continent to begin to show its full potential. Does he deserve the amount of attention he is finally getting? Yes.