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Opinion - The word hidden in Freedom is Apartheid era

While we were still struggling for FREEDOM we celebrated 26 June as FREEDOM DAY with very good reason as it focused on what FREEDOM really means. After 1994 we unfortunately scrapped FREEDOM DAY with a day so named on 27 April which effectively celebrated VOTERS DAY as though voting was the equivalent of FREEDOM. This was one of the first symbolic acts of neo-colonialism and triumph of liberal democracy over liberationist democratic socialism with African characteristics.

The real FREEDOM DAY celebrated the first Parliament of the People and the adoption of the FREEDOM CHARTER still the most historic comprehensive outline of the wishes of the people of South Africa.... a bottom-up expression of what kind of future was expected.... a defining statement on LIBERATION. It was this document that defined the difference between a narrow ethno-nationalist movement and a national liberationist movement.... something from which the body politic and the political estate led by the ANC has moved away.

The Congress of the People defined what the LIBERATION MOVEMENT should have been and therein lay the protection of the ideals, aims and objectives of liberation, but instead just one component and narrow nationalist interests consolidated power and domination over time, and because of this there was a betrayal of the national liberation struggle in favor of a narrow nationalist politics not very different to the National Party and also pandering to ethno-nationalism. This started when a faction calling themselves the ANC - African Nationalist caused havoc within the ANC in exile between 1965 and 1975 and this required a compromise deviation from the COP Liberationist Framework. The compromise was necessary to save the unity and coherence of an exiled movement but it came with a huge price. The Kabwe Conference in 1985 tried to repair this compromised deviation but alas it was too little, too late and the compromise culture still tilted towards the African Nationalists. Once the original and most damaging split in the ANC, thosefrom the ANC who had collaborated in the Bantustan System, were welcomed back into the fold the narrow Nationalists and that political culture got a new lease of life and became a dominant culture finishing off the legacy of the FREEDIM DAY LIBERATIONIST CULTURE. The war for the left should of the ANC was lost.... and then the hollowness out of the ANC and government began.

The Freedom Charter born of FREEDOM DAY and the Congress of the People was the statement of core principles of the South African Congress Alliance, which consisted of the African National Congress, the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Democrats, South African Coloured People's Congress and the South African Congress of Trades Unions.

The opening words of the FREEDOM CHARTER was "The People Shall Govern" and from this was born the slogan Forward to PEOPLE POWER (NOTE: NOT PARTY POWER) Another slogan was the strong anti-colonialism slogan which also was not a nationalist ideal... rather a Pan-African ideal - MAYIBUYE I AFRIKA. It is unfortunate that the negotiations process of the early 1990s embrace many foundation stones of neo-colonialism and ditch the basic principle of People Power and Let Africa Return. These things together with the full FREEDOM Charter statement defined the liberation movement as a democratic broad socialist people's movement with African characteristics committed to uniting South Africans across ethnic and so-called 'race' divides. We have moved far away from FREEDOM DAY and it's deep meaning. The average ANC member and even much of its leadership cannot tell the difference between NATIONALISM and NATIONAL LIBERATION IDEALS.

We forget that the FREEDOM CHARTER and FREEDOM DAY (which we dramatically tossed aside in the negotiations and 1994 euphoria) was the product of 3 years of multi-faceted resistance to white minority ethno-nationalist rule by the neo-Nazi National Party - the Defiance Campaign of 1952.

In 1955, the CONGRESS ALLIANCE sent out 50,000 volunteers into townships and the countryside to collect from the people of South Africa what they believed Freedom meant.

FREEDOM DEMANDS rolled in such as "Land to be given to all landless people", "Living wages and shorter hours of work", "Free and compulsory education, irrespective of colour, race or nationality", and so on... and these socialist orientated demands of the people were collated and organised into a coherent single document endorsed by over 3000 delegates from across the country. These people represented all communities across the National Party's ethnic and race nationalist divisions.

The Charter was officially adopted on Sunday 26 June 1955 at a gathering of about 3,000 people. This gathering was known as the Congress of the People, held at Kliptown.

The crowd shouted its approval as each section of the Freedom Charter was read....with cries of "Afrika!" and "Mayibuye!

The FREEDOM CHARTER was not a civil rights Charter of a civil rights movement. It was also not a Charter for one set of ethnicities or for one race. It further was not a NATIONALIST Charter... not even an AFRICAN NATIONALIST charter, no matter how much trick-cycling is done by revisionist historians. It was neither a COMMUNIST CHARTER nor a CAPITALUST CHARTER.

THE FREEDOM CHARTER cleay encapsulated democratic socialist ideals with African characteristics calling for fundamental restructuring of all aspects of South African society as it then existed. It represented an antithesis of white nationalism and bantustan nationalism. The latter two elements were to skillfully creep into every aspect of the negotiated settlement of the 1990s in a form of intellectual insurgency through "think-tanks" that replaced the bottom-up FREEDOM CHARTER process.

The FREEDOM CHARTER pioneered what came to be called NON-RACIALISM rooted in anti-racism, setting aside race-theories and divisions, and the ideal of uniting South Africans .....forced by colonialism and Apartheid under four race-silos..... to become ONE PEOPLE in a unitary South African state, United in.our diversity.

In the new South Africa the ANC has lost its way in implementing this core FREEDOM PRINCIPLE, even though some gains have been accomplished. After the unbending of the ANC in 1990 while much of the membership of the liberation movement with still restricted to MK camps, exile, imprisonment or still in underground structures for three years, the nature of how the ANC did business and who was leading the ANC dramatically changed.... as did its membership. Apartheid collaborators and those in the Bantustans, security forces and civil service flooded into hastily established ANC branches. The NATIONAL LIBERATIONISTS quickly became a minority as Narrow Nationalists ethno-Nationalists, Civil Rights activists, and Liberal Democrats change the nature of ANC politics. The Alliance politics of the Congress of the People which always struggled to survive in exile was gradually whittled away. ANCism replaced LIBERATION ALLIANCE politics as the Alliance was drastically weekend by the 3-year long demobilsation and integration.of the Liberation Movement and its culture and this new post-1990 culture.

In the mid-1980s the UDF had successfully rekindled the FREEDOM CHARTER focus but the progressives were subjected to huge repression while a struggle for control of the UDF ensued as a deliberate counter-insurgency strategy of the Apartheid Regime and its Corporate and foreign western government allies. From the beginning of the 1980s Western European governments, the verligtes in the NP and the Corporates using the guise of philanthropy worked to build a broader alternative negotiations voice within the struggle arena and marginalize the NATIONAL LIBERATIONISTS. They strove to redefine the struggle in SA as CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE with a leaning towards LIBERAL DEMOCRACY or at worst case scenario SOCIAL DEMOCRACY. The idea was to bring together less radical elements in the ANC together with a new layer of ambitious youthful UDF leaders. To do this the conter-insurgencystrategy moved away from fighting over radical words and focused on building relationships regardless of revolutionary language. This together with physically eliminating or physically distancing leadership from those considered radical as well as changing the make-up of the ANC branches membership became the game changer. 1990 was also a means to give away the cloak of who had won the battle, to the ANC, while the oppressor imperial alliance quietly won the war.

When we remember FREEDOM.DAY as we should it must be remembered as a defining moment for the struggle between.... an alliance of Liberalism & Nationalism in both its fascist pole and its liberal Democrat pole..... and on the other side LIBERATIONISM, DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM WITH AFRICAN CHARACTERISTICS & INTERNATIONALIST ANTI-IMPERIAL & ANTI-COLONIAL struggle.

The Colonial Apartheid regime understood the importance of FREEDOM DAY and the FREEDOM CHARTER as the line in the sand. It quickly moved into repression mode and declared the entire event as TREASON. THE national Party government arrested 156 activists, including Nelson Mandela and leaders of the Alliance partner organisations, who were put on trial in the 1956 Treason Trial, in which all were acquitted. There had only been one larger TREASON TRIAL in SA history..... that of the 346 rebels in the Jij Rebellion of slaves led by Louis van Mauritius and Abraham van der Kaap in 1808. The trial was held at the Castle of Good Hope in December followed by brutal executions of five leaders and many imprisonment on Robben Island. Notably this treason the one in 1956 included accused of many ethnicities from all over Southern Africa including local Khoe indigenes and two Europeans, one of whom was executed. This FREEDOM EVENT resonated with the 1955/1956 FREEDOM EVENTS.

We should have retained 26 June as FREEDOM DAY because this defined what FREEDOM really means and not VOTERS DAY which just has not delivered the Liberation that we fought and sacrificed for.


A vision for a democratic socialist future with African characteristics envisaged as LIBERATION and PEOPLE POWER.

We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people; that our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality; that our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities; that only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief; And therefore, we, the people of South Africa, black and white together - equals, countrymen and brothers - adopt this Freedom Charter. And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.

The People Shall Govern! Edit

Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as a candidate for all bodies which make laws;

All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country;

The rights of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex;

All bodies of minority rule, advisory boards, councils and authorities shall be replaced by democratic organs of self-government.

All National Groups Shall Have Equal Rights! Edit

There shall be equal status in the bodies of state, in the courts and in the schools for all national groups and races;

All people shall have equal right to use their own languages, and to develop their own folk culture and customs;

All national groups shall be protected by law against insults to their race and national pride;

The preaching and practice of national, race or colour discrimination and contempt shall be a punishable crime;

All apartheid laws and practices shall be set aside.

The People Shall Share in the Country's Wealth! Edit

The national wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be restored to the people;

The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;

All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people;

All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions.

The Land Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It! Edit

Restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land redivided amongst those who work it, to banish famine and land hunger;

The state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers;

Freedom of movement shall be guaranteed to all who work on the land;

All shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose;

People shall not be robbed of their cattle, and forced labour and farm prisons shall be abolished.

All Shall Be Equal Before The Law! Edit

No one shall be imprisoned, deported or restricted without a fair trial;

No one shall be condemned by the order of any Government official;

The courts shall be representative of all the people;

Imprisonment shall be only for serious crimes against the people, and shall aim at re-education, not vengeance;

The police force and army shall be open to all on an equal basis and shall be the helpers and protectors of the people;

All laws which discriminate on grounds of race, colour or belief shall be repealed.

All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights! Edit

The law shall guarantee to all their right to speak, to organise, to meet together, to publish, to preach, to worship and to educate their children;

The privacy of the house from police raids shall be protected by law;

All shall be free to travel without restriction from countryside to town, from province to province, and from South Africa abroad;

Pass Laws, permits and all other laws restricting these freedoms shall be abolished.

There Shall Be Work And Security! Edit

All who work shall be free to form trade unions, to elect their officers and to make wage agreements with their employers;

The state shall recognise the right and duty of all to work, and to draw full unemployment benefits;

Men and women of all races shall receive equal pay for equal work;

There shall be a forty-hour working week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers;

Miners, domestic workers, farm workers and civil servants shall have the same rights as all others who work;

Child labour, compound labour, the tot system and contract labour shall be abolished.

The Doors of Learning And of Culture Shall Be Opened! Edit

The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life;

All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free exchange of books, ideas and contact with other lands;

The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace;

Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children;

Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit;

Adult illiteracy shall be ended by a mass state education plan;

Teachers shall have all the rights of other citizens;

The colour bar in cultural life, in sport and in education shall be abolished.

There Shall Be Houses, Security And Comfort! Edit

All people shall have the right to live where they choose, to be decently housed, and to bring up their families in comfort and security;

Unused housing space to be made available to the people;

Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no one shall go hungry;

A preventive health scheme shall be run by the state;

Free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for all, with special care for mothers and young children;

Slums shall be demolished, and new suburbs built where all have transport, roads, lighting, playing fields, creches and social centres;

The aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be cared for by the state;

Rest, leisure and recreation shall be the right of all;

Fenced locations and ghettoes shall be abolished, and laws which break up families shall be repealed.

There Shall Be Peace And Friendship! Edit

South Africa shall be a fully independent state, which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations;

South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation-not war;

Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all;

The people of the protectorates-Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland-shall be free to decide for themselves their own future;

The right of all the peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall be recognized and shall be the basis of close co-operation.

Let all who love their people and their country now say, as we say here:


Source -

Adopted at the Congress of the People, Kliptown, South Africa, on 26 June 1955

Content created and supplied by: Alupheli. (via Opera News )

Apartheid Congress of the People FREEDOM FREEDOM DAY LIBERATION


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