NOTES ON SOLOMON MAHLANGU MEMORIAL LECTURE NOTES FOR THE LECTURE DELIVERED BY FLOYD SHIVAMBU AT THE UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG IN APRIL 2010.
· We would like to congratulate the University of Johannesburg Branch of the ANC Youth League for changing the name of the branch to Solomon Mahlangu branch.
· Solomon Mahlangu deserves the honour because he is youth who like this generation of youth was fearless.
· Let’s now talk about Solomon Mahlangu and who he is the struggle for liberation.
· Up until 1976, Solomon Mahlangu was a student, living under the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
· On June 16 the school-children of Soweto, protesting the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in their schools, took to the streets in a massive, peaceful demonstration.
· The violence precipitated a spontaneous uprising led by the students that spread rapidly to all parts of the country. By the end of the year "an official (and doubtless underestimated) figure was given of 575 dead and 2, 389 wounded in the conflict." (Worden, 1994. p.119.) A wave of detentions and bannings were used by the state in an attempt to crush the revolt. 21, 000 people were prosecuted for offenses related to the uprising. (Marx, 1990. p. 68.)
· Thousands left the country in the face of this repression. They left to carry on the struggle from outside the country.
· Nineteen year-old Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu was among them. He left his home in the night, not telling even his mother where he was going or if he would ever return.
· Determined to fight for change, he sought training as a soldier. A year later, he returned home as a cadre of the of the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the Spear of the Nation.
· Solomon returned to South Africa in 1977, on a mission to join student protests commemorating the Soweto massacre. He never made it to the protests. He and his team, Monty Motloung and George "Lucky" Mahlangu were accosted by police in Johannesburg, and in the gunfight that followed, two white civilians were killed.
· George Mahlangu escaped. Solomon and Monty Motloung were captured. Monty was so brutally beaten during the course of his capture that he suffered severe brain damage leaving him unfit to stand trial. Solomon had not fired a shot, but was left to face the murder charges alone. The trial was started without his lawyers' knowledge (SECHABA, 1979), and it was inevitable that he was found guilty of murder.
· On March 2, 1977, Solomon was sentenced to death by hanging. When he heard his sentence, he shouted "Amandla!”.
· For two years the international democratic community campaigned against his execution and called for the recognition of all South African freedom fighters as prisoners of war.
· But, despite international pressure, the Apartheid government was not swayed. On April 6, 1979, 23 year old Solomon Mahlangu faced the gallows, raised his hand in the ANC salute, and met his death at the hands of a racist regime.
His final words are reputed to have been:
"My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom.
Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight."
Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight."
Solomon's people did continue the fight. In honour of his courage and dedication to the cause of freedom, the ANC named a new school after him: The Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO).
WHAT DOES THE STORY OF SOLOMON MAHLANGU RELATE TO THE MILITANCY OF YOUTH TO CHANGE SOCIETY?
· The courage of Solomon Mahlangu to fight and demolish the apartheid regime demonstrates the militancy and radicalism, which have defined and shaped the struggles of young people in South Africa.
· The founding generation of the ANC YL, which included Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Anton Lambede, Mxolisi Majombozi, Robert Resha and others completely redefined methods of struggle and gave the ANC new energy through methods which were at times uncomfortable with the ANC leadership.
· In SA, there was growing militancy of the Trade Union Movement and the Communist Party of South Africa.
· The Youth in the ANC felt the need to form a militant youth league of the ANC.
· The youth thereby chose to take a stance opposite to that of their parent organisation, which they increasingly viewed as pacifist and liberal.
· Lionel Mxolisi Majombozi, a medical student at Wits University, was the first to moot the idea of forming the ANC Youth League arguing that it be presented to the to the ANC old guard as move to recruit young people and thus hiding its real intentions, viz. Of transforming a moribund organisation into a militant agent of political change.
· During the ANC Annual Conference in 1942, the emergence of militancy amongst the African youth groups was noted, and the conference instructed the ANC National Executive Committee to form the Youth League of the ANC.
· The ANC YL former President Patrick Molaoa led a dedicated contingent which fought in the Spolile Campaign in 1968, and lost his life fighting for the emancipation of the people of South Africa.
· The young Chris Hani mobilised young revolutions with intentions to revitalise and giving new energy to liberation fighters in a process which led to the 1969 Morogoro Conference.
· The 1976 generation led a very militant struggle against the nonsensical and brutal apartheid regime in a manner and bravery which remains unparalleled to this day.
· WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THE 1976 UPRISINGS AND DETERMINED ACTION AGAINST APARTHEID IS THE REALISATION THAT STUDENTS CONTAINED WITHIN THEM A REVOLUTIONARY POTENTIAL WHICH COULD DESTABILISE THE APARTHEID REGIME.
· The National Liberation Movement instructed comrades to organize learners into a students’ congress to fight for students’ rights, freedom and the Freedom Charter.
· An instruction was also give to bring the Congress character into the student movement at post secondary level, which included SASO and NUSAS.
· The Congress of South African Students (COSAS) was formed in 1979 as a result of the banning of organisations that realized the uprising of 1976. COSAS’ formation was inspired by the bravery of young learners who raised their fists against apartheid repression.
· The young lions’ generation under the leadership of Peter Mokaba ran South Africa ungovernable and incubated energy to the struggle for liberation thus leaving the apartheid regime with no option but to negotiate.
· During negotiations, the ANC YL and youth in South Africa gave the additional energy and zest to the negotiation process, in a manner which illustrated to the apartheid regime that young people are ready to continue the fight for liberation and total independence of South Africa.
· Post democratic dispensation, the ANC YL has been the only organisation at the forefront of instituting youth development into mainstream work of government, civil society and the private sector. The betterment of South Africa’s youth has and continues to be our primary pre-occupation.
· It is this historical mission which the current generation of the ANC YL has to complete and intensify. We have a responsibility to go out in our numbers to vote for the ANC. The ANC YL at all levels of its existence has been at the forefront of elections work.
· Without shifting the goal posts, it is our strong conviction now that as a generation, our mission is not yet complete.
· Our emphasis however is centred on our strong conviction that all communities should be mobilised to play a developmental role in the communities. We will continue to fight for better education and health, adopt a school campaign, and various programmes which will seek to better the living conditions of our people.
WHAT IS OUR MISSION?
· When we went to the first leg of the ANC YL 23rd National Congress in Mangaung, the theme of the leadership that was ultimately given the mandate to lead the Youth League was GENERATIONAL CHANGE, and like all GENERATIONAL CHANGES, the outcomes of the Youth League Congress in Mangaung and subsequently NASREC was not an easy one.
· It appears from the character of the Youth league politics now that the GENERATIONAL CHANGE we called for in Mangaung was not a mechanical generational change, where we had to merely replace one older generation with another one.
· The political and ideological character of the ANC YL post Mangaung and NASREC is very revolutionary, working class biased and committed to retaining the Left character of the ANC.
· In all our communications and outlook since the Conferences, we have always assumed a revolutionary, working class biased character and re-affirmed the principles of the Freedom Charter. We will never allow space for super-revolutionaries to undermine our struggles and try to associate everything we do with corruption.
· Or mission is total attainment of the Freedom Charter aims and objectives and we will do everything in our power to ensure that such becomes a reality.
· Our approach to workers and community struggles has always been progressive, and dismissed the third force mentality taken by previous generations.
· We have joined into workers’ and community struggles, not through media statements, but through practical action on the ground.
· We have practically revived our political education programme meant at reproducing revolutionary ideas and agitate young people for clearly guided engagement with the current democratic conjecture.
· NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY ADOPTED IN OUR TERM AND GUIDING GOVERNMENT IN ITS RESPONSE TO YOUTH ISSUES.
· NATIONAL YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AGENCY.
· Our call for nationalisation of Mines (has radically reshaped the ideological landscape not only in the ANC YL, but entire liberation movement.
· NATIONALISATION OF MINES WILL HAPPEN and this is because of the current leadership focus and dedication.
2010 Political Programme
- The year 2010 is the 98th Anniversary of the ANC. The ANC’s 98th anniversary coincides with the 55th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, which for the past 55 years has been the beacon of hope for the people of South Africa. In celebrating the 98th, 99th and 100th anniversaries of the ANC, the ANC YL will do everything in its power to ensure that all aims and objectives of the Freedom Charter are realised.
- The ANC YL will, reminiscent of our founding generation such as Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Mxolisi Majombozi, Ashby Mda, Anton Lembede, mobilise and intensively lobby for the realisation and practicalisation of all Freedom Charter objectives.
- The great moments in the history of the African National Congress have always been represented by its ability to take giant leaps and decisive action in a manner that adequately adapted to existent material conditions.
- Our strong conviction as this generation of the ANC Youth League is that the period towards the centenary of the ANC in 2012 should prepare the African National Congress to adopt a radical, progressive and decisive programme which will ensure that the wealth of South Africa is returned to the ownership and benefit of the people as a whole.
- The democratic dispensation has given the ANC sufficient political power to change society for the better, and it is high time that we utilise that power to redress the legacy of apartheid in all spheres of society.
- The ANC should begin to understand that in the process of radical change, not everyone will be happy and not everyone will support the revolution and that mistakes are bound to happen. The ANC YL will in celebrating the years towards the centenary prepare the ANC, the alliance and South African society for the necessary and long overdue change in economic and social transformation.
- In the process of change, the African National Congress should never be hijacked by any of its class components for a narrow programme. The broad-church composition of the ANC and its determination to achieve the Freedom Charter should be defended. We call on all loyal members of the ANC to rise in defence of the AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS.