Reporting South Africa
By Lester Lewis
Arriving is South Africa, my first visit is
to the Hector Peter Museum. The Young Warrior had died on the
battlefield for African culture during the Soweto Uprising in
1976. Then, Black school students in South Africa refused to be
educated in Afrikaans, the language of the White colonialist
settler apartheid regime.
At the museum, I meet Antoinette Sithole.
She is the young girl in the picture with Mpuyisa Makubu,
carrying the lifeless body of Hector Peterson. That picture
shocked the world and the Soweto Uprising was really the
beginning of the end of apartheid
in South Africa. One would have thought that the new ANC rulers
would have given Hector's mother generous compensation. But, no,
she is a hawker at the museum bearing the name of her martyred
The uprising organised by the Pan
Africanist Congress has now been hijacked by the ANC. June16,
the 27th anniversary, is a public holiday celebrating the Soweto
Uprising, but it is now devoid of any political content. The
Government plans an event in a stadium in Soweto but ANC youths
are publicly critical, calling for a boycott of the event. The
accusation against the ANC rulers is that they are promoting
drinking and dancing, and hiring artistes who are largely
non-political. Even white-owned businesses are getting in on the
act of exploiting June 16 and Hector Peterson's name for
From the Hector Peterson Museum, I walk to
the home of Urbania Mothopeng, the octogenarian widow of
Zephaniah Museum. He was sentenced to Roben Island for
organising the uprising. Urbania Mothopeng is old but fighting
strong. She talks of writing poetry and of her other writings,
which are in the custody of her children.
She is collaborating with Ali Hlongwane,
the chief curator of the Hector Peterson Museum who is writing a
biography of her husband.
Zephaniah Mothopeng, popularly known as
Uncle Zeph, was arrested in 1963. He
was banished from Soweto to which he returned in 1975. He
was arrested in 1978 as part of the Bethel trial and sentenced
to two concurrent jail terms on Roben Island. He had been
detained with Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe, the legendary founder of
the PAC, after the anti-pass law campaign of 1960. In all, he
served three terms of imprisonment.
Commenting on his three prison sentences,
Uncle Zeph said that he went to
prison with his contemporaries, he went back with his
children, and he went back in 1979
with his grandchildren when he was 74 years old. Then, he was
sentenced for ferrying arms to the Azania Peoples Liberation
Army, the military wing of the PAC; for recruiting people to go
abroad for military training; and for predicting and organising
the Soweto Uprising.
For Ali Hlongwane, a PAC activist,
"the ANC is treating June 16 like a picnic where people
come together to sing and dance. That negates the whole idea of
memory as a weapon of struggle. We should remember June 16 so
that it can not be repeated, and take stock of the unfinished
business of the liberation struggle."
Soweto is a sprawling township. Driving
around, one can see that the ANC
rulers have failed to deliver any benefits after their
take-over from the apartheid rulers. Under the slogan "A
Better Life for All," they promised to build one million
houses. So far, they have failed to meet this target.
Houses built for Africans during the
apartheid regime were called matchboxes. But they are twice the
size of those built under the ANC government. The Zulu word
Vezunyawo is used to describe these houses. It means that when
you lay down to sleep, your leg protrudes outside the house.
Around Soweto, people are building shacks
wherever there is open space. There is a pressing need for
proper housing for the poor and the failure of the ANC to meet
this basic need is an indictment of the ANC's failure. Not only
that, it has also failed miserably in its economic development
Blacks in South Africa have become poorer
under ANC rule while Whites have become richer. The government
implemented a poverty-causing IMF-World Bank Structural
Adjustment Program, selling off state assets mainly to foreign
private companies. This led to large-scale unemployment and poor
people in the townships having their electricity supply and
water supply cut off. Protesters claim that this is a denial of
their basic human rights to electricity and water.
For Mosebjane Malatsi, a PAC member of
Johannesburg City Council, "Privatisation of state
industries is pandering to free market systems that allow profit
maximisation at the expense of jobs. So we have jobless growth.
Of the 650,000 new entrants in the Labour Market, only 7 per
cent get employment. Of these, 4 per cent are White, 1 per cent
Indian and 2 percent Africans, primarily because of training and
The quality of schools and skills training
is skewed in favour of whites. Consequently, 57 per cent of all
youths are unemployed in Gauteng province.
Nationally, this is 65 per cent." In a
continent where there is massive employment, state industries
are efficient at creating jobs and by selling off state
industries, the ANC government has increased the pool of
On Land Reform, Mandela and the ANC did a
deal with the Boers, allowing them to keep all the land they had
stolen by force from the Africans before 1913. This amounted to
87 per cent of all the land in South Africa. On a visit to
Phumalanga province in 2000, I spoke to Glory Mosibudi Mpiti.
She told me, "All this land in the north belongs to the
Pedi people. The Whites and took our land and we want our land
Councillor Malatsi is scathing about Land
Reform. He said, "Up to now, Land reform in terms of
redistribution is less than 10 per cent of the land that was
supposed to be redistributed to people removed from their land
by the apartheid from 1913 onwards. Nationally, 40,000 White
farmers own 86 per cent of all agricultural land in South
Africa. On average, one white farmer has 1,500 hectares compared
to 1.2 hectares for an African farmer. That is not sufficient
for subsistence living, he still has to work to gain the minimum
means of sustenance.
"The economy is 90 per cent owned by
Whites with a fraction owned by Indians. Africans and coloured
own the rest. The so-called African middle class who are
supposed to be empowered by the Black Economic Empowerment
Program is 1.6 per cent of the population. The army and the
police are still controlled by whites. Transformation is taking
place but not so much."
At the upper echelons, the civil service is
still controlled by Whites at
the Director General level then there are Africans. There
are Whites in the middle and then there are Africans. It is the
same in local authority employment.
I interviewed Councillor Malatsi in a drive
from Midrand to Johannesburg. We stopped at a shopping complex
in Midrand. These shopping malls as they are called are dotted
all over South Africa, including Soweto. Whites own them all.
Blacks own none. So President Mbeki's Black Economic
Empowerment program is not working. Still, he persists
with it. His stated ambition is to create a Black
business class. This means that those at the lower end
are suffering Since economic policy is geared towards
benefiting this Black business class.
Compared to Zimbabwe where
President Mugabe has given economic and political power
to Africans through the Land Reform Programme, South
Africa has an extremely long way to go. Only White owned
businesses seem to be prospering.
Photo left: President Mbeki of
In a blistering critique of Black Economic
Empowerment, the President's
younger brother Moeletsi Mbeki told a seminar at a
university in Pretoria, "Only a few people are being
enriched." He said, "We are taking political leaders
and politically-connected people and giving them assets which,
in the first instance, they do not know how to manage." He
claimed, "The exercise was undermining value to the economy
instead of adding something."
According to the younger Mbeki, the current
formula for Black Economic Empowerment had been invented by
conglomerates to create a buffer to protect. The interests of
big business. "The state has now internalised this model
created by big conglomerates."
The business owners have done very well
under the ANC government. An unnamed official working in the
bureaucracy of the African Union said that the ANC had done a
deal with the Boers, promising to deliver the whole of the
market in Southern Africa to these White-owned business. But
most of the businesses in South Africa are British owned. Now,
Anglo-South African and Anglo-American owned companies are
penetrating the whole of the continent.
It was this promise to deliver the market
to White businesses that prompted the South African authorities
to collaborate with the Ugandan-Rwanda invasion of The
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after President Laurent
Kabila had blocked imperialist exploitation of the vast mineral
wealth of the DRC. At the time of the initial invasion, then
President Nelson Mandela was said to have been waiting on a ship
outside the DRC with Professor Wamba dia Wiamba to install him
as President of the DRC in place of Lauent Kabila.
During the whole period of the invasion,
arms manufactured in South Africa were paid for by Britain and
America for the Ugandan and Rwanda armies to fight what was in
reality a proxy war on behalf of United States imperialism. But
the proxy warriors were defeated by Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe
Defence Forces that were called in by Laurent Kabila. The armies
of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo assisted them.
Now, under the peace process forced on
young President Joseph Kabila, South Africa is supporting war
criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity to become
Vice Presidents to Joseph Kabila. At a Pan African forum held in
London on 14 July 2002, the following resolution was passed.
This Pan African Forum
"Condemns the SILENT GENOCIDE IN THE DEMOCRATIC
REPUBLIC OF CONGO which has resulted in the death of
between 3.5 - 5 million Congolese people; and calls for
the authors of the genocide, Yoweri Museveni, Paul
Kagami, Jeane Pierre Bemba (Mobutu's son-in-law), Wamba
dia Wamba, Emile Ilunga, Adolphe Onosumba, Bizima Kahara,
Azarias Rubera, Mbusa Nyamwisi, Thomas Lubunga,
Etienne Tsisekedi, Katebe Katoto and others to be
arrested and tried for 'crimes against humanity'. Now,
the death toll in the DRC stands at around 5,000,000.
The ANC government of South Africa can not evade its
responsibility for its part in this genocide in the DRC."
Despite its overwhelming power, the ANC
seems desperate to prevent the
political decline that awaits it. It used its majority in
Parliament to pass a floor-crossing law that allows Members of
Parliament, the Provincial Legislatures, and local Councils to
cross over from one party to another. The ANC has been the
beneficiary of such floor crossing.
In the process, it almost deciminated Banu
Holimisa's United Democratic Movement (UDM). Ten of its 14
Members of Parliament crossed over to the ANC. Centered mostly
in the Eastern cape where the ANC organisation seems to be
disintegrating under the weight of corruption, the UDM is
expected to regain all its members and more in elections due in
Also expected to make big gains is the Pan
Africanist Congress. The PAC's failure to adapt from the
politics of armed guerilla warfare to Parliamentary electoral
politics cost it dearly. Its newly elected leader,
Motsoko Pheko referred to the floor-crossing legislation as
"political prostitution." The PAC lost one of its
three members of Parliament when, encouraged by White liberals,
Patricia de Lille set up her own party after first consulting
Predicted parliamentary gains for the PAC
is premised on the fact that in local government elections held
in 2000, it increased its numbers of elected Councillors by over
600 per cent. Besides that, there is an influx of young people
into the ranks of the PAC as disaffection with the ANC
The fact that the ANC formed an alliance
with the National Party of the former apartheid rulers is also
bound to further damage their support base at the grassroots
level. Then there is their bitter argument with Home Affairs
Minister Chief Mangosutho Buthelizi for control of Kwazulu
Province. Buthelizi was also deeply critical of the floor-crossing
The official opposition in Parliament is
Tony Leon's Democratic Party which seems to be the main
representative of White interests. He is noted for his shrill
racist statements attacking President Mugabe and the Land Reform
Program in Zimbabwe. Ibbo Mandaza, the publisher of the Zimbabwe
Sunday Mirror, is of
the view that the international campaign against Zimbabwe
is not really aimed at Zimbabwe, it is aimed at South Africa. It
is a pre-emptive strike against much-needed Land Reform in South
Africa where the Whites have much more to lose.
Leon recently exposed an oil scandal
surrounding President Mbeki. An oil deal he negotiated with
Nigeria was meant to benefit the South African economy.
However, not one Rand from this deal entered the South
African economy. After promising to investigate the deal, the
ANC leaders clamped up and said there would be no investigation.
Surprisingly but perhaps not so
surprisingly, Thamie ka Plaatjie, the former General Secretary
of the PAC, claimed that there was nothing to investigate.
But his performance at the PAC Congress
when he tried to liquidate the PAC leaves some people wondering
whether he had done a deal with the ANC. After presenting an
award to Mfana Sekaya Gqobose, the 86 years oldest living member
of the PAC, Plaatjie and his supporters disrupted the Congress
then walked out after it became clear that he did not have a cat
in hell's chance of being elected President of the PAC.
Gqobose's life story is interesting. He was
born on 7 August 1917 and had been a member of the ANC Youth
League. He left the ANC wit Robert Sobukwe who broke from the
ANC in 1958 and set up the PAC. He had been arrested and served
detentions after 1960. He escaped and went to live in Lesotho.
In 1964, Gqobose was arrested in Lesotho
which was then known as Basutoland, then
a British colony. He was sentenced to three years
imprisonment in 1965 under the Prevention of Violence Abroad
Proclamation. He was released from prison in 1967.
He stayed in Lesotho until 1970 when there
were general elections. He was arrested by the Basutoland
National Party government and detained in Maseuru maximum
security prison. He was held under confinement until October
1971. Then, the Lesotho government decided all refugees must
leave as they were helping
the opposition Basuto Congress Party.
The first group left in August 1971. He and
another person left in November 1971. They were deported to
Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. He says, "We
were dumped, no one knew us. The police in Kinsasha threatened
to send us back to South Africa. They didn't believe we were
"We told them about the PAC, that the
PAC was banned in South Africa, that our leader was Mangaliso
Robert Sobukwe. The police then became friendly. They told us
that Holden Roberto of the National Front for the Liberation of
Angola could help us. Roberto kept us and gave us facilities in
a guest house at his own expense. We stayed there for two weeks
in 1971. By this time the PAC had established an office in Dar
"The PAC sent tickets to take us to Dar
es Salaam. We flew by air. Tanzania was then the home of all
Liberation Movements from Rhodesia, Namibia, South Africa,
Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau. Tanzania became our
second home. We used to travel from Tanzania to countries all
over the world. We had Tanzanian Travel documents. We traveled
to Europe, India, China, and Indonesia. We had representatives
in these countries.
"We stayed in Dar es Salaam from 1971
until 1992 when the PAC was declared legal. I got back to South
Africa in July 1992 after spending 30 years in exile. Now, I
live in Williamstown in the Eastern Cape. On returning, I was
still PAC, I attended all the conferences.
"I was given a specific task to
organise the formation of the PAC archives, to collect all the
history of the movement from its founding in 1959 until the
present time. This is not an easy task, it needs money, I am
doing my best. The PAC created its own archives for posterity at
the university of Fort Hare in the Eastern cape."
Gqobose said that he had come to the PAC
Congress in Soweto to "give advice on the history of the
PAC." Now that he is very old, he is contemplating writing
his memoirs. So the two octogenarians, Urbania Mothopeng and
Mfana Sekaya Gqobose are still making their contributions to the
African Revolution in South Africa.
While in South Africa, there was a meeting
of the World Economic Forum presided over by Presidnt Mbeki.
This was another attempt to sell the New Partnership for African
Development (NEPAD). Only 15 African Presidents turned up.
Jocquaim Chissano, the President of Mozambique and next Chairman
of the African Union, was there. He said, "There is no
alternative to NEPAD."
Chissano is one African President who
rejected Nkrumah's advice against accepting foreign tutelage. I
met him at an OXFAM conference in Oxford in the late 1970s. He
seems to depend on the international charities which are agents
of neo-colonialism and instruments for the recolonisation of
Africa, and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for
advice on economic development in Mozambique.
Former poor guerilla fighters, he and his
Ministers are now exceedingly rich while the overwhelming
majority of Mozambicans are extremely poor. In a local
Mozambican newspaper, people were asking how come the Ministers
are so rich while the people are so poor. Chissano does not
understand that NEPAD, the IMF and the World Bank are intent on
impoverishing the vast majority of Africans while Africa's vast
wealth is exported to Europe and America.
The South African churches have come out
against NEPAD. In a statement issued on June 1, they said,
"NEPAD contains some problematic elements that have proven
to be ineffective in building peaceful, just, and caring
societies in Africa. Its economic strategy is discredited by the
harsh impact on the poor in African countries that have already
adopted similar policies. It pretends to be unaware of the
severe negative social impact that rapid privatisation of basic
social services has on impoverished communities in Africa. It
fails to address the underlying power relations that constrain
The latest news is that South Africa is
lobbying for the African Parliament to be based there. Surely,
it would be more appropriate to locate this facility in one of
the poorer Central African countries. That would give an
economic boost to that particular country and lead to other
economic and social benefits in the short, medium, and long
South Africa is also preparing to host US
presidential election-stealer George Bush, who is busy
implementing the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
Under this PNAC, the US seeks to dominate the world in this the
21st century. Former South African president Nelson Mandela
described George Bush as "A President who does not
South Africa opposed the US-British
invasion, occupation and colonisation of Iraq. The Secretary General
of the ANC stated that South Africa will be the next country to
be invaded by the USA. Why? All the minerals that are used for
building its vast array of military weaponry come from South
Africa. It seems odd that the ANC government of South Africa
will be hosting the president of an imperialist country that
they think is hell bent on invading South Africa.
* * * *
Heart of Darkness
Missing words have been
restored and the entire novel has been repunctuated in
accordance with Conrad’s style. The result is the first
published version of
Heart of Darkness that allows readers to hear
Marlow’s voice as Conrad heard it when he wrote the story.
"Backgrounds and Contexts" provides readers with a generous
collection of maps and photographs that bring the Belgian
Congo to life. Textual materials, topically arranged,
address nineteenth-century views of imperialism and racism
and include autobiographical writings by Conrad on his life
in the Congo.
New to the Fourth Edition is an
excerpt from Adam Hochschild’s recent book,
King Leopold’s Ghost, as well as writings on race by
"Criticism" includes a wealth of new materials, including nine
contemporary reviews and assessments of
Heart of Darkness [Contents]
and twelve recent essays by
Peter Brooks, Daphne Erdinast-Vulcan,
Edward Said, and
Paul B. Armstrong,
among others. Also new to this edition is a section of writings on the
Heart of Darkness and the film
Apocalypse Now by Louis K. Greiff, Margot Norris, and Lynda J.
Dryden. A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.
King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism
in Colonial Africa
By Adam Hochschild
* * *
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
5 March 2012