Albert Lutuli

Articles from New Age and Drum

1954-1961

Compiled by E.S Reddy

Contents

  1. CALL TO A. N. C. RANKS, NOVEMBER 1954
  2. PREPARE FOR CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE: MESSAGE, MAY 1955
  3. STATEMENT PROTESTING THE CLOSING OF THE SOVIET CONSULATE OFFICES, FEBRUARY 1956
  4. MESSAGE TO THE CONFERENCE OF THE CONGRESS OF DEMOCRATS, JOHANNESBURG, APRIL 1956
  5. FREEDOM DAY CALL, JUNE 1956
  6. PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS TO THE ANNUAL PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE OF THE NATAL BRANCH OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS, JULY 1956
  7. RECOMMENDATIONS OF COMMISSION ON UNDESIRABLE PUBLICATIONS: INTERVIEW, SEPTEMBER 1957
  8. A. N. C. ELECTION POLICY: INTERVIEW TO NEW AGE, NOVEMBER 1957
  9. MESSAGE ON THE EVE OF MULTI-RACIAL ONFERENCE, NOVEMBER 1957
  10. INTERVIEW TO DRUM, JUNE 1958
  11. "WHAT I THINK OF MACMILLAN’S SPEECH": ARTICLE, MARCH 1960
  12. "IF I WERE PRIME MINISTER": ARTICLE, DECEMBER 1961

 

CALL TO A. N. C. RANKS, NOVEMBER 19541

Urging Congress branches to ensure 100 per cent attendance at the forthcoming A.N.C. National Conference, due to begin at Durban on December 16, President Lutuli says that the occasion provides an opportunity to show

"that the bans imposed on our leaders by Minister Swart have not in any way dampened the spirit and enthusiasm of the rank and file, but on the contrary, have fired each member in Congress with a fresh determination to do double time by willingly and happily carrying an extra load of work and sacrificing one’s time, possessions and ability.

"This Conference will give us an opportunity of showing the authorities that our leaders are leading an able and healthy army, in which the lowest 'officer' and even a 'private' can give effective leadership in times of crisis, when commanding 'officers' are incapacitated.

"We must demonstrate that Congress is not a one-man show!…

"Natal is all excitement at the honour of playing host to the Conference of her mother body. It is a long time since Natal has had this honour – over twelve years."

The Congress president goes on to deal with certain points which, he says, need clarification.

"The African National Congress is a legal organisation. Some people are under the wrong impression that, because leaders of the A. N. C. are being banned by the Minister of Justice, Congress is an illegal body.

"That is not so Congress is still a legal body, and it is no offence in law to be its member. No doubt we are a thorn in the side of the Government, and sometimes the police overstep their bounds by intimidating people against Congress.

"Do not be kept away from your organisation by these unlawful intimidations!"

Freedom Volunteers

Dealing with the freedom volunteers, the President says there is some confusion between the tasks of these volunteers and the volunteers of the Defiance Campaign. "Some people think that these volunteers are called upon to defy the law as in the case of the Defiance Campaign. This is not the case."

Pointing out that the Defiance Campaign, having served a notable purpose, was "brought to a halt after due consultation with our allies, the S.A. Indian Congress," Mr. Lutuli says the first task of the freedom volunteers of today is to work for the Congress of the People "which will culminate in a great assembly, whereat our multiracial nation, through delegates elected democratically by people in all corners of the Union, will write our Freedom Charter – a South African Declaration of Human Rights."

The freedom volunteers' task is to visit men and women in their homes, in factories and all over, to explain the objects of the Congress of the People and enlist their support. The freedom volunteers are "field workers mobilising the people for the great Congress of the People."

A further task of the freedom volunteers is to arouse opposition among the people against the Government’s implementation of its "evil apartheid policy," as concretely expressed in such measures as the Johannesburg Western Areas removal scheme, the Bantu Education Act and the rent increase in municipal housing schemes. Under the slogan "Resist Apartheid!" this campaign must be carried out as a "twin, inter related task" with the preparations for the Congress of the People.

Reiterating, his call for fifty thousand volunteers, Mr. Lutuli concludes:

"Throughout history no freedom has come to any people without blood and tears. Africans cannot be an exception to this divine test. But take courage in the knowledge that, no matter how dark the future may seem, right must triumph over wrong, and also remember that no national movement has ever failed. Shall yours be the first in history to fail?

"Afrika! Mayibuye!"

 

PREPARE FOR CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE: MESSAGE, MAY 19552

On June 25 and 26, only five weeks from now, there will assemble in Kliptown, near Johannesburg, people from all corners of South Africa to attend the great Congress of the People – an event we have long awaited.

This assembly will take place at a time when the political situation in South Africa has never been so critical as it is today. The future of the country appears dark and great uncertainty has set in everywhere in the land.

No one is sure of his home any more; in various parts of the country the people are being haunted by the Group Areas Act; they are being removed in the Western Areas of Johannesburg; they are threatened with removal in the Western Cape, in Natal, in the Transkei and in other parts of the country.

The educational policy of the Nationalists, particularly as expressed in the Bantu Education Act, deprives the children of the overwhelming majority of the population of real education.

The courts and the Constitution are being threatened.

The country is faced with an impending fascist republic built on apartheid, which has been condemned the world over.

This great day of the Congress of the People, therefore, will be a ray of light and will inspire new hopes for the future. It will be of great significance not only in South Africa but also throughout the world.

Re-dedication

I wish to remind you that the 26th of June, since 1951, has been regarded and celebrated as a People’s Day in South Africa. This year we shall re-dedicate ourselves to the struggle for freedom in that great assembly of the people, where we shall write a charter for freedom.

The almighty God has spared me to serve my people and to make this clarion call, among other things to all the people of South Africa.

In the name of justice and goodness, I now appeal to all democrats and freedom-loving people of South Africa irrespective of race, colour or creed, to unite and work together for the Congress of the People.

I call upon everyone in the next five weeks to subordinate everything to the preparations for the Congress of the People.

 

STATEMENT PROTESTING THE CLOSING OF THE SOVIET CONSULATE OFFICES, FEBRUARY 19563

The Government’s allegation that the Consulate of the U.S.S.R. has been responsible fore subversive activities amongst the Non-European people in the Union is sheer propaganda, declares Chief A. J. Lutuli, President-General of the African National Congress, in a statement to New Age.

Chief Lutuli says that African National Congress, as the representative of the majority of the people of South Africa, deeply regrets that the Nationalist Government should make Non-Whites the excuse for its malicious propaganda against a friendly nation.

"The African National Congress urges the Government to reverse its action in the interests of peace and healthy relations among nations.

"As a people who believe in world peace and in the principles of the United Nations Charter, we cannot but deplore the action of the Nationalist Government, and so call upon all freedom and peace-loving people in our land to protest against this action of the rulers of South Africa who in so many ways have shown themselves to be the arch-enemies of democracy."

Chief Lutuli concludes his statement with the words: "The freedom and peace-loving people of our land must demonstrate to the world that beyond any doubt, they stand with all freedom and peace-loving people in the world such as the people of the U.S.S.R."

 

MESSAGE TO THE CONFERENCE OF THE CONGRESS OF DEMOCRATS, JOHANNESBURG, APRIL 19564

In sending you fraternal greetings and wishing your Annual Conference all success, I would like to centre my brief remarks on the question. "What is your task in South Africa?"

An annual conference is always an occasion for stocktaking where both the backward look and the forward look are made. I would ask you in making an appraisal of your activities in the past year and laying out your plans for the coming year to ask yourselves what your task is in our present situation in South Africa when we find ourselves faced with the most savage and fanatical Government that shows no signs of being willing to share democratic rights with all people in the country regardless of their race or colour. The Government of the Nationalist Party despite adverse world opinion, seems bent on making democracy a possession of "Europeans only."

Each session of Parliament sees the statute book of the Union loaded with new oppressive discriminatory legislative and administrative enactments which press hard on non-whites and on all who champion the cause of an oppressed people. The task before us is most urgent and exacting, faced as we are with fanatical rulers who would bring the country to ruin politically, economically and otherwise, rather than do all the right things towards all sections of our multi-racial nation, especially the non-whites who at present are the hardest-hit victims of the apartheid policy of the Nationalist Government. The situation challenges all lovers of freedom for all to fight on until the forces of oppression are defeated.

Your task as an all-white political party that is in full fellowship with the premier political organisations amongst non-whites is not an easy one at all.

You have a special mission to convert white South Africans to your viewpoint of regarding all people, regardless of their race or colour, as equals and therefore deserving of being accorded all democratic rights to enable each individual to develop himself to his fullest capacity.

A wide acceptance of this viewpoint would result in the categorical rejection of the policy of apartheid which is inflicting on non-whites, solely on grounds of race and colour, indignities and atrocities so derogatory to human dignity that no human being should be made to bear them.

Unfortunately at present, white South Africa in its treatment of non-whites ignores, to her harm, fundamental spiritual values such as:

Righteousness and not injustice uplifteth a nation; Magnanimity and not selfishness and pettiness bring honour and greatness to a people; Brotherliness and not racial arrogance brings about harmony and co-operation in a nation, especially a multi-racial nation.

It will not pay white South Africa to live by the jungle law of "might is right." The lesson of history is that those who rule by an iron hand eventually suffer an ignominious end. Your task – our task – is to save white South Africa from bringing about its own destruction. Apartheid will prove a terrible Frankenstein one day.

Finally, your task is not an easy one because as lovers of freedom for all, you will be persecuted and abused by white South Africa with the oppressed whose cause you champion. But even worse than this you may find yourselves suspected of ulterior motives by some of the people you are trying to liberate. All this should not daunt you and divert you from the struggle for freedom for all in our country.

 

FREEDOM DAY CALL, JUNE 19565

In his national Freedom Day Call, ANC President-General Albert Lutuli calls on all lovers of freedom in our land to commemorate the past deeds for freedom and to rededicate themselves to the cause of freedom.

"Let us in all humility remember that we of this age and hour are not the first and only ones who have struggled for the liberation of the people of our land, and it behoves us to recall the men and women who, in defence of freedom, sacrificed most devotedly.

"We should recognise June 26 for what it truly is – a symbol of something real and continuous; a spirit, which having its roots in the past, is sustained in the present by an undying common hope of a glorious future.

"Wherever they may be, in their homes, at work, travelling along the highways, I call on all men and women and children of our land who love and value freedom to pause at the stroke of 9 p.m. on this day and enter into a ceremony of a united spiritual fellowship with thousands of freedom lovers throughout the length and breath of our country.

"Wherever possible people should assemble in small or large groups to observe this fellowship. Using a lamp or lantern in a darkened room, but preferably a bonfire, all should kindle a flame as a symbol of a torch of freedom that the fighters for freedom, united in fellowship, are resolved to carry in the gloomy skies of South Africa, darkened by the oppressive apartheid laws made by Parliament of whites only.

"We should at this ceremony of fellowship recount the noble deeds done in the cause of freedom and sing the songs of freedom. It is at this ceremony that we should rededicate ourselves by repeating: ‘Until freedom becomes a possession of all in our dear land of South Africa, I pledge myself to count no cost too great to gain this freedom.’

"At this moment we should tangibly show our rededication by offering to our Freedom Fund.

"I call on all Congress members, supporters and sympathisers to enter into all the activities planned for the week before June 26.

"Afrika. Mayibuye. Freedom in our Lifetime!"

 

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS TO THE ANNUAL PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE OF THE NATAL BRANCH OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS, JULY 19566

(Press report)

"The struggle for freedom must go on no matter how hard the struggle might be! It must go on because Freedom is the noblest human attainment for which man throughout the ages has willingly paid the supreme sacrifice," declared Chief Albert J. Lutuli, in his presidential address to the annual provincial conference of the Natal African National Congress, held last weekend.

Chief Lutuli, who was making his first public appearance since his banning two years ago, speaking with great emotion said: "To be back with you again is an occasion I would not miss for anything. It makes one feel so good. It gives me the inspiration one needs so much after a long period of enforced isolation.

Struggle Must Go On

"It is appropriate at this stage in thinking about our subject: ‘The Struggle Must Go On!’ to pay tribute to those men and women who have suffered or died for freedom in our country. If all those lovers of freedom are not to have died or suffered in vain it behoves those of us who still, in some way, can act, to play our part faithfully.

"Even if some desert the cause, ‘the faithful few’ must carry on the struggle."

In reply to his own question, "Why are we in such earnest that the struggle must go on?," Chief Lutuli said:

"It must go on because freedom is the noblest human attainment for which man throughout the ages has willingly paid the supreme sacrifice.

"Man in his best moments yearns for it.

"The Atlantic Charter shows this!

"The United Nations Charter shows this!

"The Bandung Declarations show this!

"The Kliptown Freedom Charter – Our own Charter – shows this!

"It must go on because otherwise we would be so untrue – so disloyal to our dear Africa for too long despised and called a dark continent: A continent of wild beasts, of deadly diseases, of human savages – you.

"To this day some white citizens including some Ministers of the Crown still openly tell the world that Africans are primitive and savage: many despise you and call your grown-ups 'boys,' make your men do domestic work and make them wear real boys' kitchen suits.

"It seems the whole underlying purpose in all this is to emasculate the men and make them lose their dignity and personality.

"We must convince the world of our worth! Nothing could convince the world more than our willingness to die for freedom."

Although South Africa was passing through dark days in the hands of the Nationalist Government with its strong leaning towards fascism, and despite the numerous oppressive laws passed during the last session of Parliament, Chief Lutuli said:

"When a people come to the realisation of their plight and begin to fight back unitedly there is surely room for jubilation and optimism.

"The fight equally is being fought on every front. The fight has been won by the S.A. Table Tennis Association, which has gained international recognition. It is raging furiously between the S.A. Soccer Federation, a non-colour-bar body, and the S.A.F.A. which is for Whites only. We congratulate our sportsmen for upholding the dignity of the Non-White peoples of this country.

"Our optimism was heightened a few days ago by the announcement in the press that the Interdenominational African Ministers’ Association is calling an All-in Conference to discuss the apartheid policy of White South Africa.

"The African National Congress has always been in the forefront of the struggle against apartheid and has refused to compromise with this evil thing. In keeping with our stand we assure the Interdenominational Ministers’ Association of our full support for this bold and timely move and sincerely congratulate our African Spiritual Fathers for this."

Calling on Africans of all shades of opinion to LUTULI the call of the Ministers, Chief Lutuli said:

"Attending this Conference will give the people a rare opportunity of thinking together, planning together and I hope of acting together.

"Our womenfolk, too, have given us cause to be optimistic of the future. Their magnificent and brave stand against the Government’s decision to extend the pass laws is to be highly commended.

"In wishing the women all success in their struggle I call on our women in Natal to rally in full force in defence of their most meagre freedoms: they must rally to the cause whatever some of our conservative men might say."

Stating that the majority of the world’s population were in support of the just struggle of the peoples of South Africa for freedom and democracy, Chief Lutuli concluded by calling on the people to take courage and say: "The struggle must go on! The cause is worth striving for!"

He rejected any suggestion that he had any reservations whatsoever in regard to the Freedom Charter. He said:

"I charge you to go back to your locality and translate your pledge and resolve ‘That the Struggle Must Go On!’ into action by seeing to it that you mobilise your area to the cause of our Liberatory Movement. Attend to the local needs of your people.

"Preach faithfully and correctly the Congress message in your area, which means that you must see to it that the Congress programme and directives are implemented.

"I repeat: Translate Congress resolutions into action!

"Remember: We must, in our lifetime, be able to change our Freedom Charter to say:

"And, we must be able to say: AFRIKA ISIBUYILE!"

 

RECOMMENDATIONS OF COMMISSION ON UNDESIRABLE PUBLICATIONS: INTERVIEW, SEPTEMBER 19577

The recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry in regard to Undesirable Publications create another grave threat to the liberties of the people and constitute an unwarranted attack on the liberty of expression, said Chief A. J. Lutuli, President-General of the African National Congress, in an interview with New Age.

"The Commission seems to have laid great stress on the necessity of safeguarding moral standards by suggesting fatuous legislation when it is a universally accepted fact that moral standards can be protected only by a decent standard of life – economically, socially and culturally – and by a sound educational system which ensures compulsory higher education for all people," he said.

No responsible person, he added, questioned the right of the state to take reasonable steps to control the abuse of freedom of expression in its various forms, but the recommendations of the Commission contained proposals that went far beyond the limits of reasonableness and justice.

"The proposed measures of control and punishment of offenders are dangerously drastic and far-reaching. They provide state control of literature which is likely to suppress literary talent and isolate the country from the progressive and stimulating influence of world art and literature."

Chief Lutuli said that the position was made worse by the recommendation to give authority and control to semi-judicial officials, a measure which would accentuate the strong undemocratic tendency in Union legislation.

"The recommendation that the proposed Board receive the right to judge publications relating to political and race relations matters, if put into effect, will inevitably lead to further oppression of political organisations opposed to the Nationalists.

"I urge the Government to reject the recommendations and to allow instead the spirit of the immortal words of Milton to guide future legislation: ‘Give me the liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.’

"On behalf of the African National Congress I call upon the people to vigorously condemn and oppose the Commission’s recommendations."

 

A. N. C. ELECTION POLICY: INTERVIEW TO NEW AGE, NOVEMBER 19578

QUESTION: There is a "tradition" that because only the Whites have the vote, the general election is not of great concern or interest to the Non-European people. Is this a correct approach?

LUTULI: It is a most unrealistic, even suicidal outlook. A general election decides the nature of the Government and must, for better or worse, influence the course of a liberatory movement.

The nine years of Nationalist rule have seen the enactment of the most tyrannical slave laws ever to besmirch the statute books of our country.

Who can say, in the face of this record, that the 1948 elections were of no concern to us?

The 1948 elections which put this neo-fascist Government in the saddle will always be remembered with great indignation by all freedom loving people in our land.

The Nationalist Government’s career has been one of fraud and deception to voters and to non-voters alike. Its promises to the electors, such as that to keep down the cost of living, have proved false. Its pretences to "positive" and "beneficial" aspects of apartheid have proved deceptive. All that is left is a naked policy of oppression and complete enslavement of the Non-White peoples.

There is a limit to what any people will tolerate. A further period of Nationalist rule after the elections will almost certainly strain already dangerously tense conflicts past breaking point, and bring about a national disaster.

In the light of these facts who can say that the general election is of no interest to Non-white people?

Whatever other problems may still face us, the immediate problem of all South African democrats is – to get rid of the Nationalists.

QUESTION: Arising out of this, does Congress support the attitude that it does not matter which party – the Nationalists or United Party – wins the election?

LUTULI: It should be clear from what I have already said that it does matter which government is in power. A ruthless government imposes a great strain on the freedom forces. By continuously provoking violent reactions from the people, it makes it more difficult for Congress to keep our people along our chosen path of non-violence.

Nationalist repression has not intimidated or weakened our movement; Congress is stronger and more determined today than it has ever been. Even under a further period of trails and tribulations of Nationalist rule the forces of freedom will continue and emerge victorious, but the struggle will be harder and more bitter.

That bitterness will leave scars which will make more difficult the task of building a multi-racial society of equals, based on fraternity and mutual confidence, that will face us on the morrow of liberation.

On the face of it there seems little difference between the Nationalist policy and that of the United Party. Racial domination, whether it is caused by baasskap or White leadership is fundamentally unacceptable to Congress. It might be said that the Nationalists murder you most ruthlessly, while the United Party tries to poison you slowly:

But the important differences must not escape us. It would make some difference to us to have a government that would show some sensitiveness to democratic opinion at home and throughout the world. Freedom lovers will oppose the reactionary aspects of United Party rule with the same determination and courage that they are now showing against the Nationalists. But a United Party Government coming into office in the growing crisis created by Nationalist ruthlessness and rigidity, in a general atmosphere of relief and rejoicing at the end of the Nationalist terror, would not be likely to be able to pursue the unpopular policy of repression and police rule practised by its undemocratic predecessors.

The United Party as it is at present is not a force which will bring freedom to the Non-White peoples. But, willy-nilly, its rule will give the country a respite from the unrelieved terror of a decade of Nationalist rule; it might bring about a relatively peaceful period in the country; it could create favourable conditions for the rapid development and maturing of the struggle for freedom; it could provide the European and the Non-European population groups of our country with opportunities to come together and find honourable and peaceful ways of transforming our country from an oligarchy to a democracy based upon liberty, equality and fraternity.

On the other hand a further stretch under the Nationalists might well make inevitable the further growth of hatred and intolerance and lead to chaotic and perhaps bloody upheavals desired by no sane South African, least of all by us of the Congress movement.

Our desire for a United Party victory is, therefore, based not on any confidence in that party’s policy or on any illusions about its intentions, but upon our understanding that nothing could be more disastrous for all sections of the population than further years of Nationalist purgatory.

QUESTION: Do you think that the United Party is missing an opportunity of forging a united Opposition by refusing to conclude an election pact with the Labour Party?

LUTULI: The main service the U.P. can do for South Africa at present is to get rid of the Nationalists. And to do so they should ally themselves with all available forces. By all forces I mean the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, the Congress of Democrats and all other groups with the vote. I include the Non-White also among these forces because, properly harnessed, the Non-White people can and will be a decisive force in the final defeat of Nationalist rule in South Africa. I hope that in the process of this co-operation the United Party and other groups which are not pro-Congress, will become less segregationist in their outlook and work for the establishment of a truly democratic South Africa.

QUESTION: What are your views on the policy platform on which the United Party is preparing to face the election?

LUTULI: The United Party’s "new look" policy regarding political and other rights for the Non-White people is most disappointing. We are not to be bluffed or fobbed off by any version of the archaic 1936 Smuts-Hertzog "Native" legislation, or attempts to present dud forms of "representation" in Parliament as a substitute for democracy. We shall not be side-tracked by schemes for creating a privileged African middle class whose intention is to leave the masses leaderless. The promise of freehold rights for urban Africans must remain hollow and unsubstantial without the repeal of the 1936 Native Land act, the Urban Areas and Group Areas Acts and all the amendments and consequent additions to these laws.

There is nothing new about the United Party’s election policy. It is designed to appease both the most backward sections of the White electorate and the national aspirations of the Non-White people. It fails miserably to do either.

QUESTION: What is the real issue in this election?

LUTULI: The immediate defeat of the Nazi-Nationalists, and the assertion of the rights of all South Africans to freedom and democracy.

This central real issue of the elections, with its implied total rejection of the ruinous policy of apartheid, will not be placed before the electorate by either of the chief parties to the election.

It can nevertheless be brought home to the full by the freedom-loving forces of the country if they do not accept a merely passive "spectator" role in the elections, but immediately form an active and vigorous United Front, and campaign militantly for their claims:

In a word, our claims to democracy and freedom and a South Africa founded upon justice and racial harmony.

QUESTION: What forms must congress campaigns and activity take during the next vital pre-election months?

LUTULI: We should, therefore, reject the idea that the Congresses should "lie low" during the election period. We should rather regard the period as one of intensive activity, of campaigning by the written and the spoken word, of united mass action to educate the people both Black and white.

We should intensify our extra-Parliamentary forms of struggle such as the campaign against the extension of the pass laws to women, and the passes generally; the campaign for a national minimum wage of 1 a day and all-round increase in wages for all workers; the campaign against the Group Areas Act and forced removals and so on.

Election day could very well be a day of mass prayer and dedication to the freedom cause. This could be arranged to suit local conditions. I am a great believer in this type of activity. To me this is the biggest significance of June 26.

Our best contribution to the enlightenment of the people, both enfranchised and disfranchised sections, is to make it clear beyond doubt that the overwhelming majority of the South African people reject and despise the Nationalists and their hateful policies and actions and that to place them again in office would be an irresponsible and reckless action whose harmful consequences cannot be measured.

Our slogans during this period would be

AWAY WITH THE NATS!

FREEDOM IN OUR LIFETIME!

 

MESSAGE ON THE EVE OF MULTI-RACIAL ONFERENCE, NOVEMBER 19579

Much has been said and written about the forthcoming multi-racial conference to be held in Johannesburg on December 3-5, 1957. Very little, if anything at all of what is new, can be said about it now. But the need to stress and underline its significance and rally the people to its support remains paramount and urgent. It is to achieve this "underlining" that I have written this "EVE-OF-THE-CONFERENCE MESSAGE."

The main concern of this conference will be to seek means and ways of improving and establishing better race relations in our country. The progress of any country depends on the full utilisation of its resources, especially its human resources. It is generally agreed by all honest people that on this human factor the Union of South Africa has a regrettable record. We have failed to live up to our Motto: EX UNITATE VIRES.

The result could not be otherwise than strained and estranged human relations. No team-work can be built on master and servant relations as obtains in our country between white and black, with whites claiming to be masters for ever.

It is generally agreed that under the South African policy of segregation, especially its more virulent form, the apartheid policy of the Nationalist Party, race relations have deteriorated to dangerous levels, not only as between white and black, but also within the white group itself: English-Afrikaner relations leave much to be desired. There is a complete breakdown in contact between the Government and the non-whites and hardly any friendly contact between whites and blacks on a personal level.

The same disunity is being deliberately promoted among African tribes and already as a result we are witnessing shocking and most dangerous inter-tribal factions, especially in urban centres. All this sets the country on the road to disaster and not to peace and prosperity.

It is no wonder that the majority of the population, the non-white, being denied all chances of unlimited advance according to individual capabilities and inclinations, are developing a growing spirit of frustration and resentment at exclusively white rule of the Union of South Africa. All honest and loyal citizens of the Union should spare no effort to arrest the deterioration and positively work for the realisation of a true democratic South Africa, and not a South Africa of "Whites only."

There is time to avert disaster that must result from such strained relations. Herein lies the importance of this coming multi-racial conference. It can do much to accelerate the movement towards a truly united Union of South Africa. I welcome it as another noble joint effort by freedom lovers in our country to achieve this end.

We must not be unmindful of the difficulties and limitations that face such a somewhat omnibus conference. But we have good reason to hope that at least there will be a large number of men and women of goodwill who will give a positive progressive tone to the meeting to make it achieve something that will bring us nearer to our goal. In our situation, whilst stating and fighting for our objectives relentlessly, we should remember that the first important thing is "not where you are but where you are headed to." I hope this conference will get us headed to a truly democratic South Africa.

I agree with one of my colleagues who, writing under the caption "Towards Unity," said: "There is no need to regret this diversity of movement and campaigns or regret this multiplicity of efforts for we are each travelling in the same direction – against apartheid tyranny – and our paths are bound to converge."

It is therefore not too much to hope that this conference shall succeed to canvass for greater support among women and men of goodwill, especially among the whites, for people who will accept and pledge themselves to work for a multi-racial South Africa founded on equality, liberty and fraternity: a goal worthy of any nation claiming to be civilised.

This conference must succeed because it has happy and noble antecedents. It is the child of the united voice of African leaders who, at a widely-representative all-African conference held in Bloemfontein in October 1956, under the auspices of the African Interdenominational Ministers’ Federation, declared unanimously against apartheid and called for a broader consultation among South Africans at some multi-racial conference: so this conference.

This Bioemfontein spirit should assure the conference of the full support of responsible African leaders and the mass of the African people who accept their leadership. It must succeed because it comes at a time when the spirit of unity to fight oppression unitedly is growing more than ever before among all sections of our nation. This is evidenced by the unparalleled unity amongst the progressive groups such as the Congresses, the Liberal Party of South Africa and a large number of politically-unattached people.

I urge upon my people, in a spirit of give and take to give full support to this forthcoming historic conference. They must do all that is humanly possible to make it breathe a spirit of reality, unity and co-operation.

RIGHT MUST TRIUMPH OVER WRONG SO THIS CONFERENCE MUST TRIUMPH OVER APARTHEID.

 

INTERVIEW TO DRUM, JUNE 195810

Now that the stay-at-home and the election are over, what is the African National Congress going to do?

The stay-at-home and election were merely phases in the struggle, not an end in themselves. The result of the election is, however, a challenge to the ANC and all freedom-loving people to exert themselves more than ever before. Ministers have promised to intensify the apartheid programme. That is not unexpected. The Non-White people must disabuse themselves of any idea of freedom coming to them as a gift.

Should the plans of the ANC be radically recast, in the light of the comparative failure of the stay-at-home on April 14?

It is nothing unusual in a struggle to be faced with temporary setbacks. We did, however, succeed in forcing ourselves into the arena of the election. For better or worse, I am unable to say. The major parties were vying with one another in suggesting measures to oppress us. The stay-at-home also focussed the attention of the Non-White, as well as the White, people on our struggle.

Does the promise of a republic really concern Non-European politics? If so, how?

My view is that, if a republic were proclaimed, oppression would be greater. We have good reason, from certain inferences, to associate the republic with the Paul Kruger day – when oppression for the Non-Whites was at its worst. At present the moral restraint of the British – and the very fact that we are now connected in a way with the British sense of democracy – acts as a restraint.

What do you make of the suggestion that another spell of Nationalist rule will help extreme Non-European politics?

I do not like the description "extreme Non-European politics." In our struggle in the Union, we cannot be different from similar struggles in other countries. Every movement must have its spearhead. Another period of Nationalist rule should help by clarifying the issue involved. Some people, for instance, imagine that the Whites will give us freedom without struggle. We can not afford such day-dreaming about freedom.

Are there not signs that women are going to play a much bigger – perhaps the crucial part – in politics?

There are signs that women are beginning to play an effective part in politics. I cannot visualise a situation in which the movement will be overwhelmingly feminine, but they will play a very important part. More and more African women will not only actively, but also in silent ways contribute to the struggle.

How do you answer the change that ANC leaders are dragged by the nose by leftist people?

There is absolutely no basis to this. Our method of struggle is certainly not new. It is that of oppressed people the world over. If anybody can suggest better or more effective methods, short of violence, we are prepared to listen.

Will the "Africanists" become stronger in the ANC? How can their influence be countered?

I don’t regard the Africanists as a serious problem within the ANC. They do exist, but not as a challenger meriting constant attention. Without going into details of their activities in the Transvaal, I may mention that before the Pretoria Conference of dissident branches, Congress issued circulars to the different branches asking them to dissociate themselves from the Pretoria Conference, Branches responded very favourably, and most of them did not associate themselves with that conference.

The ANC should strongly pursue its policy of co-operation with other racial groups, and win the African people to that point of view. That is the only sound policy.

The struggle in the North takes the form of "Africa for Africans." In my view, this is quite justifiable in territories where other racial groups- especially the Whites – are not as permanently settled as they are in the Union and Southern Rhodesia. Or, if they are settled. They are in a small minority.

Then it is only fair that these States should be regarded as African States, with the Whites forming a minority. South African in my view, is entirely different. It is true that the Whites represent hardly one quarter. There are also the Indians and the Coloureds.

Justice demands that in those circumstances a multi-racial government should be formulated.

In such a government, I should be perfectly happy to have as head of the country either Dr. Naicker or Mr. Strijdom as long as they have been elected by a democratic majority.

What are the chances that, in the event of complete banishment, the ANC will go underground? Will the ANC swing from an urban to a rural organisation?

This is a hypothetical question. I hope the Government will not banish the ANC and force some of its members to consider going underground,

If the Government banishes us completely, I cannot say what the ANC would do. It is something which required very consideration, and it has not come up for consideration yet. I can only hope that wiser counsel in Government circles will refrain from banishing Congress.

It is in the interests of the country to allow a major organisation of the people to express the view of the people openly. Democracy demands that any democratic government – and ours claims to be one – shall allow freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, the ANC MUST continues to strengthen itself in the areas. But it should increasingly give greater attention to rural areas, especially the reserves. The reactions of the rural people against passes for women, and the popular resentment against Bantu Authorities, shows that the rural people are ready to take a more active part in the struggle.

What is the future of the multi-racial movement?

The multi-racial movement is for South Africa the only hope. South Africa can only reject the idea of a democratic multi- racial society at its peril. Racialism must lead to conflict.

In the ANC we are opposed to Black domination as we are to white domination. Personally I am great believer in the ultimate triumph of right, and I believe that our objective of a democratic multi-racial society could be achieved in South Africa.

In social movements and changes, it is not wise to be prophetic regarding time. I hope, however, that our objective may be gained before the already dangerously strained relations are strained to breaking point.

 

"WHAT I THINK OF MACMILLAN’S SPEECH": ARTICLE, MARCH 196011

The eminent British statesman, Mr. Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister of Britain turned to Africa, including the Union, "to see." But, in the end, he did more than "see." He gave us oppressed people some inspiration and hope – and to all in the Union something to think about.

Some of us, fearing that he might be manoeuvred by his host, the Union Government, to act and speak in support of apartheid, advised him that neutrality might be his best policy in the circumstances. But great man that he is, he spoke his mind without let or favour and gave a lie to our fears.

Most of what he said brought to truly progressive non-racial South Africans a refreshing breeze in a land already befogged by apartheid with its stress on sectionalism and racialism. Most of what he said could pass as a re-affirmation of the aspirations of the oppressed people in Africa, particularly those in Southern Africa.

It was heartening to hear him categorically reject discrimination: "We reject the idea of any inherent superiority of one race over another… our policy, therefore, is non-racial."

He presented the British concept of the "rights of man" as finding fulfilment in the creation of free non-racial communities in which men are given opportunity to grow to their fullest stature… including the opportunity to share in political power and responsibility.

He entertained no fears of the rising African consciousness, but rather saw it as a natural development which, as in Europe, will give rise to separate nations of Africa, some of them multi-racial. In the multi-racial nations democracy, with its rule of majority, would prevail.

One should here point out to Mr. Macmillan that we have always been disappointed by the stand of the representatives of the United Kingdom at the United Nations, when most nations, lately including the USA, have voted against the apartheid policy of our Government. Mr. Macmillan rightly pointed out in his speech that there is a limit to a nation saying to others, "Mind your own business," because it could be said to that nation that it should mind how its conduct affected other people’s business.

We applaud the stand of the British Government in the interests of world peace. But we must stress that nations which, by their actions external or internal, try to keep other people in subjection, are a danger to peace not only in their own countries but also in the world. Such countries should be reprimanded and disciplined in some way in world councils.

It may be necessary to employ economic sanctions on such nations, to shock them to repentance. We therefore find ourselves in disagreement with our honoured guest when he denounced the campaign for the boycott of Union goods by people and groups in his own country and other countries.

Mr. Macmillan pointed out that in the present world setting, with an Africa fast emerging, it is a path of wisdom to win the alliance of African countries; and he urged that in this connection the West should give assistance and guidance to the emergent countries of Africa.

One is not much critical of this, save to say that aid should be given to Africa in a disinterested manner, not with a purpose of wooing her. After all, we are underdeveloped largely because Africa was drained by the exploitation of the West. Any aid given is but paying back to Africa what the countries of Europe especially took away from her to benefit themselves.

 

"IF I WERE PRIME MINISTER": ARTICLE, DECEMBER 196112

Many problems face the emergent Black States in this continent. Among these problems are:

  1. the avoidance of economic chaos when independence comes;
  2. the problem of speeding up education among the masses so that the people will be able to take an adequate part in government and a full and responsible share in administration;
  3. ownership and control of industry and other branches of the country’s wealth;
  4. administration and management of industry and other branches of the country’s wealth;
  5. apportionment of land;
  6. the housing problem;
  7. health and technical services;
  8. the farm programme – methods of agriculture;
  9. State subsidies for backward areas and service;
  10. the question of tribalism and to what degree tribal traditions should be maintained;
  11. relations with other racial groups within the State;
  12. extent of powers of the Government in order to maintain law and order during the change-over while avoiding dictatorship.

These problems are common to nearly all emergent independent states. I look forward to the day when my own people will face these problems of an emergent free state.

I outline here my own suggested solutions of some of these problems. These solutions should, of course, be regarded as general principles of conduct, rather than as necessarily firm methods of dealing with the individual circumstances which may arise. But, generally, this is what I would do if I were Prime Minister of South Africa.

The solution to the South African problem will call for radical reforms. The basic political need is for a government which is truly a government of all the people, for the people, and by the people.

This can only be so in a state where all adults - regardless of race, colour or belief – are voters. Nothing but such a democratic form of government, based on the parliamentary system, will satisfy.

Then there is the land question. The Whites, being a quarter of the population, possess 87 per cent of the country’s land in freehold. Africans, who form three-quarters of the population, were allocated by legislation only 13 per cent of the land – some of it poor land. Of this land, 99 per cent is trust land (government-owned land); only 1 per cent or less is held by Africans in freehold. In trust land, Africans are virtually state tenants.

To meet this man-made inequality will demand what will appear to whites in South Africa to be revolutionary changes. Some form of a system such as is found in Great Britain and Sweden might meet the case.

The land must be re-distributed and allocated to those who have to live and make their living on the land. Land would be held in freehold by individual farmers and peasants. This would not preclude some land being held by the State for renting to individuals and for state experimental farms.

There would be no indiscriminate purchase of land from individual to individual without the sanction of the Government. This would largely be done to stop speculation on land, which is the basic heritage of the people.

The present so-called African reserves, which are very much depressed areas, will need special attention as all other special depressed areas. The duty of the Government would be to rehabilitate both the land and the people.

Special aid should be given to farmers in depressed areas. Technical services and marketing facilities would form an important and indispensable part of the state programme.

Each person should be allocated so much land as he can cultivate himself with the help of his family. This, I believe, is the policy in India. Co-operative farm settlements of a larger acreage would be encouraged and aided liberally to secure the advantage of large-scale farming. The experience of Israel should be drawn upon here.

Private enterprises, commerce and industry would be under government control as now, and probably stricter. Supertax on all high incomes should be levied on a higher percentage than now to meet the needs of uplifting the oppressed of former days.

State control should be extended to cover the nationalisation of some sectors of what at present is private enterprise.

Human rights as declared by the United Nations would be entrenched in the State Constitution.

All workers would enjoy unqualified trade union rights with a charter laying down minimum wages and conditions. There would be no discrimination on grounds of colour or race. Merit would be the qualifying factor.

The present framework of industrial legislation in so far as it applies to Whites would form the basis of industrial legislation. Workers would have the right to strike, for even if strikes might be costly and wasteful, it gives the individual a greater security if he knows he has the right, and it makes him feel a partner in the undertaking.

More immigration

Generally, there must be planned social and economic development to increase employment and raise standards of living all around. This is the best guarantee against fears and prejudices arising from a sense of economic insecurity.

All discriminatory legislation and restrictions on legitimate freedom of movement will, of course go. Immigration would not be limited to any one race. Greater latitude would be allowed to immigrants – both Black and White – from other parts of Africa.

Only a republican form of government would meet the broad needs of the majority. I would like to see it as part of a larger unit, the Commonwealth of Nations. This would not preclude the Union from forming other alliances or unities in Africa or outside.

It is reasonable to expect that there will be regional groupings formed in Africa, and maybe in some period these would form a Federation of African States.

Franchise rights would be extended to all adults. To me, the expression, "Africa for Africans" is valid in a non-racial democracy, only if it covers all, regardless of colour or race, who qualify as citizens of some country in Africa.

My Government, mainly through education – directly and indirectly – would discourage the attitude of thinking and acting in racial categories. Racialism, and all forms of discrimination, would be outlawed.

The question of reserving rights for minorities in a non-racial democracy should not arise. It will be sufficient if human rights for all are entrenched in the Constitution.

The main thing is that the Government and the people should be democratic to the core. It is relatively unimportant who is in the Government. I am not opposed to any government because it is White. I am only opposed to one which is undemocratic.

I do not like such expressions as "the All-Black Government," "the African majority." I like to speak about "a democratic majority," which should be a non-racial majority, and so could be multi-racial or not.

My idea is non-racial Government consisting of the best men – merit rather than colour counting. The political parties in the country should also reflect the multi-racial nature of the country. Parties, basically, should arise from a community of interests rather than from a similarity of colour.

Appeals to racialism at elections would be an offence in law.

In countries that have become free, such as India and Nigeria, the people have put into the government their tried men of stature, and there has been no question of lowering standards of government. So the question of "swamping" the Whites in South Africa does not arise. It is merely a bogy.

Within the orbit of my State, the individual would remain cardinal, for "the State exists for the individual," and not "the individual for the State."

I realise that a state such as I visualise – a democratic social welfare State – cannot be born in one day. But it would be the paramount task of the Government to bring it about and advance it without crippling industry, commerce, farming and education.

Speculation and exploitation on housing as well as on land would not be tolerated.

Individuals would be assisted and encouraged by loans to have their own houses on their freehold sites or on rented municipal sites. Rents would be strictly controlled.

Education is a paramount unifying factor in building consciousness and pride – a healthy community spirit. In my non-racial democratic South Africa there can be no question of a different system of education for different racial groups.

It would only be in the lower classes – say up to fourth year of school – and never beyond the eighth year of school – where mother tongue instruction would predominate.

Education would be free and compulsory for all in the primary stage at first, and later up to matriculation. Substantial aid would be given to universities with a generous system for bursaries and loans to students.

In technical and trade schools education would be free. Special efforts would be made to remove illiteracy. Night schools to provide working adults with facilities for part-time education in any standard would be encouraged and liberally subsidised.

Multi-racial schools will be demanded by the need to develop common patriotism and national solidarity.

Role of small nations

My South Africa would encourage the harnessing of science and technology to every day uses of man, and not for his destruction. It will seek to play a prominent part in bringing about the banning of nuclear warfare and in working for some degree of disarmament.

The present is a most unsafe world for small nations such as South Africa. But the combined influence of all small nations can make the big nations see the futility of spending their money on armaments.

My South Africa would support the United Nations and its agencies fully, and would encourage foreign investment – subject to her own interests of course.

South Africa would give priority to training and producing her own technicians, but would always encourage the importation of technicians from other parts of the world to supply the needs of the country which cannot be met from her own manpower.

The rule of law must be the basis of the administration of justice and be scrupulously respected. Rule by proclamation and administrative edicts would be reduced to the barest minimum, and be subject to appeal to the law courts.

Citizens would have an unhampered right to appeal to the courts whenever their personal and corporate rights are invaded by any person or agency, be it the Government itself.

The present framework of the South Africa Act, stripped of its discriminatory provisions, would form the basis of the non-racial democratic South Africa I visualise.

Special care would be taken to develop a police force that is civil and efficient in doing its work. The policeman must become a symbol of protection.

For the defence of the country, there must be a defence force consisting of citizens given adequate training. The foundation of the defence would be a permanent force – a people’s army.

Finally, the challenge to South Africa is to assist in finding and formulating a harmonious way of living by people in our multi-racial communities. What an opportunity South Africa has of leading the world in this regard!

Notes:

  1. New Age, Cape Town, November 25, 1954
  2. New Age, Cape Town, May 19,1955
  3. New Age, February 23, 1956
  4. New Age, Cape Town, April 12, 1956
  5. New Age, Cape Town, June 21. 1956
  6. New Age, Cape Town, August 2, 1956
  7. New Age, Cape Town, October 3, 1957
  8. New Age, Cape Town, November 7, 1957
  9. New Age, Cape Town, November 28, 1957
  10. Drum, Johannesburg, June 1958
  11. Drum, Johannesburg, March 1960
  12. Drum, Johannesburg, December 1961