DYNAMIC AFRICA

Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is diverse multi-media curated blog with a Pan-African outlook that seeks to create an expressive platform for African experiences, stories and African cultures.



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As South Africa marks its annual commemoration of the tragic Sharpeville Massacre that occurred on March 21st, 1960, as Human Rights Day, we remember a more recent event that shocked the nation and has caused a series of uproar and protests as a result.

The Marikana miners’ strike took place at a mine owned by Lonmin in the Marikana area, close to Rustenburg, in August 2012.

What resulted was a series of violent incidents between the South African Police Service, Lonmin security, the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and strikers themselves, which resulted in the deaths of 44 people, the majority of whom were striking mineworkers killed on 16 August. At least 78 additional workers were also injured on 16 August. The total number of injuries during the strike remains unknown. In addition to the Lonmin strikers, there has been a wave of wildcat strikes across the South African mining sector. [x]

Above is a clip from the recently released ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ that partially demonstrates what took place in Sharpeville on this day in 1960.

In this video, Archbishop Desmond Tutu discusses his reaction to the heinous event that took place 54 years ago at one point saying, “I remember it as a moment where you realized that black life was cheap”.

Further reading & viewing: Robert Sobukwe - founder & leader of the Pan-African Congress in South Africa that led the march against Pass Laws in Sharpeville.

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All Africa, All the time.

24 years ago today, on February 11th 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl.

He had served a total of 27 years behind bars, most of it on the infamous Robben Island, after being convicted of treason during the Rivonia Trial in 1964 for his involvement in Umkhonto we Sizwe - the ANC’s armed wing.

Both before his sentencing and upon his release, Mandela made two iconic speeches. The first, delivered during the Rivonia Trial, lasted three hours. Referred to as the “I Am Prepared to Die" speech, it was inspired by Fidel Castro’s "La historia me absolverá" (History Will Absolve Me) and is considered one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century. 

After his release from prison in Paarl, Mandela delivered another iconic speech that began similarly to Mark Antony’s equally iconic speech in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, but with a vastly different message: Friends, Comrades and Fellow South Africans....

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All Africa, All the time.

Silicosis: The curse of Lesotho’s miners

Al Jazeera reports on the decades-long injustices against gold mine workers from Lesotho, working in South African mines, that have gotten ill as a result of their exposure to silica dust. There are currently as many as 2,000,000 former gold miners suffering from silicosis, according to the South African Department of Labour.

As with other mining industries in the country, South Africa’s gold industry was founded on the migrant labour system that was solidified through the racist system of apartheid. Black men from various parts of Southern Africa were often cheaper to employ than locals, a factor that still stands to this day. More than half of the total workforce in the mining sector is recruited from neighbouring countries. Because of this, many often “disappear from the radar of the occupational health institutions and the mining houses” once they retire or leave the mines to return home. This has meant that those who become gravely ill, as in the case of the gold miners who’ve contracted silicosis, they are unable to claim health insurance benefits if at all they are covered.

During apartheid, black mine workers were not covered despite making up up to 90 percent of mine workers in the country. Despite reformations made to the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA) after 1994, which for a long time “only served the white and coloured workers”, the implementation of these amendments have not been efficiently and adequately carried out.

Above are images of mine workers from Lesotho who have been affected by the silicosis outbreak in Southern Africa, photographed by Felix Karlsson:

  • Maphatsoe Kompi is a former miner who contracted silicosis during nearly 40 years working deep underground in South Africa’s gold mines.
  • Lebina Liphapang worked without adequate breathing protection in South Africa’s mines for 29 years, and left when he realised the work was making him severely ill.
  • Liphapang has found himself unable to work. Suffering from silicosis due to the tiny particulates he inhaled while working in the mines, he can rarely afford medication and faces a bleak future.
  • Silitosis sufferer Litabe Litabe spent 30 years  toiling in South Africa’s gold mines, where he describes conditions as “harsh”. He says the ventilation systems didn’t reach all underground areas and often failed.
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As we commemorate and celebrate what would have been the 67th birthday of South African anti-apartheid human rights activist and Black Consciousness leader and founder Steve Biko, we’re putting a focus on his ideals and objectives by listening to this rare interview with Biko that took place shortly before he was assassinated by apartheid police in 1977.

In this crucial and definitive exchange between interviewer and interviewee, Biko clearly outlines and defines what the foundation of Black Consciousness is, the importance of socialism, wealth distribution and its relationship to the distribution of wealth in the country, the argument of human rights vs minority, what non-racialism means in this context, and reorganizing the mentality of a broken society.

He also touches on his stance concerning non-violence activism, what the oppressors fear most about the oppressed - their vengeance, the unfoundedness of racist logic, and makes an eerie prediction on the handing over of power to ‘black faces’ operating within the realm of a petty bourgeoisie sector that are puppets of progress. 

Postage stamps commemorating the controversial independence of the Transkei region of South Africa in 1976.

The Transkei was made nominally independent in 1976 in order to serve as a legal homeland for millions of Xhosa-speaking black people who had lost their South African citizenship under the apartheid system of racial separation. However, upon the creation of a (nominally) independent Transkei in 1976, all black South Africans with language ties to Transkei (whether or not they lived there) lost their South African citizenship and became citizens of the new country. As a result, 1.6 million Xhosas living in the Transkei and a further 1.3 million non-Ciskei Xhosas living in South Africa lost their South African citizenship - something they had no say in as under the apartheid system, both racial and ethnic classification was ultimately decided upon by the apartheid government. Dual citizenship at birth was not permitted, and renunciation of one’s citizenship was legally possible, but rendered the individual stateless in most cases.

The Organization of African Unity urged the world to shun Transkei on the grounds that recognition would constitute acceptance of apartheid, and the United Nations supported its view.

On October 26th, 1976, the Transkei - a Xhosa region (known then as a Bantustan) that lay between Natal and the Kei River in the Eastern Cape - gained complete independence as an autonomous republic under the policy of separate development. South African prime minister B. J. Vorster justified the declaration of Transkei as an independent republic by referring to “the right of every people to have full control over its own affairs” and wished “Transkei and its leaders God’s richest blessings on the road ahead.” A press release by the African National Congress at the time rejected the Transkei’s independence and condemned it as “designed to consolidate the inhuman policies of apartheid”.

Furthermore, the Transkei could never be an economically self-sufficient nation as it would be financially dependent on the white South African government , and the majority of its citizens would have to migrate into South Africa to find work.

At its opening session the Transkei National Assembly elected Paramount Chief Botha J. Sigcau as the Transkei’s first President and Kaizer Matanzima as Prime Minister. The new republic did not incorporate the apartheid ideology into its constitution, but became a multiracial state in which all citizens had the franchise.

The Republic of Transkei was not recognised beyond South African borders. The General Assembly of the United Nations rejected the declaration of independence as invalid, and called upon all governments to deny any form of recognition of the Transkei and other Bantustans as a direct result of the ANC’s condemnation of the state as a means to reaffirm apartheid policies of separate development.

In 1994, following the dismantling of the apartheid regime, the Transkei was incorporated into the Eastern Cape province.

(sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

In Africa, as our contribution to peace, we are resolved to end such evils as oppression, white supremacy and racial discrimination, all of which are incompatible with world peace and security. We are encouraged to know, by the very nature of the award made for 1960, that in our efforts, we are serving our fellow men the world over. May the day come soon, when the peoples of the world will rouse themselves, and together effectively stamp out any threat to peace, in whatever quarter of the world it may be found. When that day comes, there shall be peace on earth and goodwill between men.

An excerpt from Chief Albert Lutuli's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

10 December 1961, Oslo, Norway.

Portrait taken of Zimbabwean-born, South African leader and activist Chief Albert Lutuli who served as president of South Africa’s African National Congress party from 1952-1967, and in 1960 became Africa’s first ever Nobel Peace Prize winner for his role in the non-violent struggle against apartheid. He was also the first person from outside of Europe and the Americas to be awarded this prize.

Although serving a ban which confined him to a 15km radius from his home, the ban was lifted for 10 days (probably due to intense international pressure) in order to grant Lutuli and his wife permission to attend the Nobel ceremony in 1961. An Afrikaans South African newspaper, Die Transvaler, describe the award ceremony as “an inexplicable pathological phenomenon”, which is, ironically, a pretty good descriptor of what apartheid was. The South African Minister of the Interior at the time told Lutuli that he do not deserve this prize.

In this photograph, taken by South African photographer Ranjith Kally, Lutuli is standing at the window to his spazza shop in Groutville, soon after being told that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

On July 21st, 1967, Lutuli was killed as he was struck by train whilst crossing railway tracks - an explanation for his death that many believe to be false.

September: Highlighting African Photographers

Man, you are okay as you are. Begin to look upon yourself as a human being" - Steve Biko (18 December 1946 - 12 September 1977).

Design by Jerome Williason Jr.

Anti-apartheid activist, student leader, writer and Black Consciousness Movement pioneer in South Africa - Stephen Bantu Biko (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977).

(source)

WOMEN’S MONTH ICON: Albertina Sisulu

The late anti-Apartheid and human rights activist Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu was born Nontsikelelo Thethiwe in the village of Camama in the Tsomo district of South Africa’s Transkei region, on October 21st, 1918. Both Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, who she married in 1944, were born not to far from Albertina’s birth place. Like Mandela, the name ‘Albertina’ came about as a result of Sisulu attending a colonial missionary school

Affectionately referred to as ‘Ma Sisulu’ or ‘Mother of the nation’ by many South Africans, Albertina Sisulu trained as a nurse - one of the few means of employment for African women outside of domestic work. In 1940, she left the Transkei for Johannesburg to begin her training as a nurse at a non-European hospital. It was in the highly segregated and fast-paced urban ‘City of Gold’ that Albertina Sisulu experienced racism for the first time. It was also here that she would meet the man who would become her life-long partner, and the man that would introduce her to politics and the anti-apartheid struggle, Walter Sisulu.

Albertina Sisulu would go on to be involved in many anti-apartheid groups, movements and events, such as the ANC Women’s League, the Defiance Campaign against pass laws for women, and the Pietermaritzburg Treason Trial. Her husband Walter Sisulu was a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the anti-terrorist armed wing of the ANC co-founded by Nelson Mandela, and would later be imprisoned at Robben Island in the mid-1960s up until 1989. She would also, along with Communist Party member John Nkadimeng, set up an underground cell to help ANC members leave South Africa for training and education in other parts of the continent and the world. Her incredible instincts also helped the ANC weed out informants such as John Mavuso who had been leaking information about the ANC and this underground cell to the apartheid police.

From her political involvement in the ANC that began in the late 1940s, and despite being served several banning orders throughout her life, up until her in 2011, Albertina Sisulu would serve as a prominent leader in the anti-apartheid struggle and the women’s liberation movement in South Africa, winning several humanitarian awards. In 1994, after South Africa’s first democratic elections, both her and her husband served as members of parliament, and in the same year the pair celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Sadly, in 2002, Walter Sisulu passed away after collapsing in Albertina’s arms.

Albertina passed away at the couple’s Linden, Johannesburg home on June 2nd, 2011.

(read more about Albertina Sisulu)

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women

WOMEN’S MONTH ICONIC PHOTOGRAPH: Albertina Sisulu (seen in the middle) celebrating with friends after her release from 90 days in a detainee’s cell.

Albertina Sisulu, wife of Walter Sisulu, was held after the sensational Rivonia raid in July 1963. By imprisoning leaders of MK and the ANC, the government was able to break the strength of the ANC inside South Africa. The ANC however also succeeded in increasing international criticism of apartheid and the United Nations condemned the trial and started steps to introduce sanctions. Over the next few years there were few acts of sabotage. Without an internal structure the ANC had great difficulty in planning and executing infiltration into South Africa.

The late 1960s turned out to be very quiet as black people tried to reorganise themselves both inside South African and in exile. It became so calm that some people even began to think that they had accepted their position and that the government had managed to suppress oppression.

As the ruling party, the NP government went about strengthening their position inside South Africa and improved the economic position of white people. The government’s strategy was quite effective, until 1976 when mass resistance began again.

(source)

AUGUST: Highlighting African Women

Happy Women’s Day South Africa!
Designed by South African graphic artist Sechaba Paneng, the above poster features Women’s Rights leader Sophia Williams-De Bruyn - one of the leader’s of the Women’s March held on August 9th, 1956, in Pretoria where over 20, 000 women staged a collective individual protest by making their way to Pretoria’s Union buildings with signed petitions against restrictive pass laws to be handed to Prime Minister JG Strijdom.
The heading at the top means “you strike women, you have struck a rock” - lines from a song the women sang in protest as they marched through the streets of the capital.
AUGUST: Celebrating African Women

Happy Women’s Day South Africa!

Designed by South African graphic artist Sechaba Paneng, the above poster features Women’s Rights leader Sophia Williams-De Bruyn - one of the leader’s of the Women’s March held on August 9th, 1956, in Pretoria where over 20, 000 women staged a collective individual protest by making their way to Pretoria’s Union buildings with signed petitions against restrictive pass laws to be handed to Prime Minister JG Strijdom.

The heading at the top means “you strike women, you have struck a rock” - lines from a song the women sang in protest as they marched through the streets of the capital.

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women

NOTABLE AFRICANS: Charlotte Maxeke

Charlote Maxeke may not be as well known as other early anti-apartheid activists such as Sol Plaatjie, but she should be. Maxeke served as the first president of South Africa’s first women’s anti-apartheid activist group, the Bantu Women’s League, and was the first black woman in South Africa to graduate with a formal tertiary degree from an accredited Western-based institution. She attended and obtained a Bachelor of Science from Wilberforce University in Ohio, in 1901.

Whilst at Wilberforce, she was taught under W.E.B. Du Bois who influenced her through Pan-Africanism. Through the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) that controlled her alma mater, she became encouraged to become a missionary. Maxeke had been a christian from an early stage in her life, joining the African Jubilee Choir in 1891 and going on to perform for Queen Victoria in England, and channeled her faith to help establish schools upon her return to South Africa.

Maxeke became increasingly politically active as the years went by, striving to improve the lives of black people in South Africa. In 1928, Maxeke set up an employment agency for black people in Johannesburg and was the first black woman to become a parole officer for juvenile delinquents.

Often honoured as the ‘Mother of Black Freedom in South Africa’, Maxeke had an ANC nursery school named after her in Tanzania.

Charlotte Maxeke, having been born in 1874, died in Johannesburg in 1939.

Poster by Judy Seidman

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women

NOTABLE AFRICANS: Lilian Ngoyi

Born in South Africa’s capital city of Pretoria in 1911, Lilian Masediba Ngoyi, who trained as a nurse, would go on to become a politician and anti-apartheid activist, but most notably she would be known for her contributions to the fight for women’s rights in South Africa during apartheid as president of the ANC Women’s League 

Originally, when the ANC was formed in 1912, the organization problematically did not accept women as members, highlighting a deep-rooted negligence of women’s rights and intersectionality during the anti-apartheid struggle. It wasn’t until 1918 that the Bantu Women’s League (BWL) was formed as a branch of the ANC under the leadership of Charlotte Maxeke. But even with the BWL in existence, women in this branch were not considered as ANC members until 1948 when the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) was formed with Ida Mntwana as its first official president.

Ngoyi joined the ANCWL in 1950 after being active in the Garment Workers Union (GWU) whilst working at a clothing factor between the year 1945-1956. In 1954, when the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) was formed, Ngoyi became one of its national vice-presidents and was elected president of the federation in 1956.

During the 1950s, Lilian Ngoyi became incredibly politically active and traveled outside of the country on various occasions, going to Europe and receiving invites from socialist delegates in Russia and China to travel to those respective countries. She spoke at anti-apartheid protest rallies in London, and whilst on her way to Switzerland she was arrested for traveling without a passport.

In 1956, Lilian Ngoyi would once again be arrested but this time in South Africa and by the apartheid police. On August 9th, 1956, Ngoyi led the women’s anti-pass march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, protesting against the restrictive pass laws for women that had just been passed. One of the largest demonstrations in South African history, the women walked through the streets of Pretoria and Ngoyi made her way to the door of Prime Minister Strijdom to hand over signed petitions against the Pass Laws.

In December of the same year, Ngoyi, along with 156 other anti-apartheid activists, would be arrested on treason charges during what would be known as the four year-long Treason Trial. During this time, Ngoyi was imprisoned for five months spending most of that period in solitary confinement.

Although the trial ended in 1962 and saw all of the accused being acquitted, Ngoyi was issued banning orders that prohibited her from taking part in any kind of political activities and restricted her movement to the boundaries of the Orlando township in Johannesburg. These banning orders expired in 1972 but were renewed by the apartheid government in 1975 for a five-year period. These times proved incredibly tough for the always radical and highly active political leader who struggled to earn a decent living.

She eventually passed away in March 1980 at the age of 69 after suffering a heart condition.

Affectionately known as ‘Ma Ngoyi’, Lilian Ngoyi is forever remembered as one of the most prominent and influential women leaders during the anti-apartheid struggle, a system which she would unfortunately not live to see destroyed and dissolved.

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women