The ANC has deliberately rewritten South Africa’s rich and diverse history to suit them, in order paint the organisation and its leaders as the only liberators of South Africa and her people. They do this while erasing the contribution made by other movements and leaders, who did not wear gold, green and black. We see this when public holidays of political significance are monopolised without any acknowledgement of people outside of the ANC for their contribution to the struggle for a democratic South Africa.
For example, Human Rights Day, which falls on 21 March, is a commemoration of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre where 69 people were gunned down and 180 people were wounded. This was in protest against the humiliating and racist Pass Law. The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of the great Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe was at the forefront of this campaign. Yet “PAC” or “Robert Sobukwe” never leave the lips of the ANC and the National Government during commemorations across the country.
In 2012, the ANC Government made a decision to move the annual official commemoration to Soweto, thus undermining the history of the day. They moved the commemoration to Soweto as at the time they were facing growing dissatisfaction in the area. This move further angered Sharpeville residents who protested by burning tyres in the streets.
Is this the ANC trying to claim the past, well knowing that they are fast losing legitimacy in democratic South Africa, where their future role diminishes with each passing election? It’s difficult to dictate the now, but it is easy to overplay the role you played in the past.
The commemoration of the 16 June 1976 protest action, now known as Youth Day, is no different. Given how the day is marked by the ANC Government one would be led to believe that it was the ANC that was at the forefront of this mass action. The opposite is true, this was a youth-led and organised moment of history. It was a clear example communities and citizens taking their futures in their own hands, without “celebrity leaders” of other organisations.
On this day, the black youth of South Africa, in the main the youth of Soweto, protested against being taught in Afrikaans and being subjected to inferior levels of education. Many Soweto children lost their lives during this protest. Many people are not even aware, and it has never been commemorated by the ANC, that on 17 June of the same year, more young people lost their lives because they chose to protest in solidarity with the youth of Soweto who had lost their lives in the battle for dignity.
National Women’s Day celebrates the contribution of women to the struggle, specifically the 20,000 women from all walks of life who marched, on 9 August 1956, to the seat of the Apartheid regime, the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the Pass Laws. This was not an ANC initiative, it was a people’s initiative. The ANC would like South Africans to believe otherwise. While the high-profile names associated with the march can be affiliated to the ANC, the march itself was not of the ANC’s making.
These are but a few examples of the ANC capturing the country’s history and the commemoration thereof. We must never forget the role that the Progress Federal Party, PAC, APC, Azapo and others played in getting us to where we are today as a democracy. There are many who fought in the war for democracy but will never be remembered because they did not do it under an ANC banner, nor did they do it for fame. We must always remember the silent heroes and heroines of the struggle for democracy.
The ANC cannot be trusted with retelling history accurately nor can it be trusted with a prosperous future for South Africa. DM