Teach the young the true meaning of the Soweto rebellion
"EVEN the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins," said Walter Benjamin, the celebrated literary critic.
I'm reminded of these words as we approach the commemoration of the June 16 Soweto uprising.
Black Power - as the event was popularly known - is one of the most important events of the last century, not only in our country but the world over.
Today the Soweto revolt is in danger of being abused beyond recognition by the holders of power since 1994.
Those who faced the bullets of the apartheid monster and gave their lives are not safe from the living!
When Steve Biko, the philosopher and organiser of the Soweto rebellion, was asked what was the one thing Black Consciousness had achieved, he didn't hesitate: "Soweto!"
He meant that blacks had finally set aside their fear of the apartheid monster and overcome death by putting their own lives on the line, a direct outcome of the teaching of Black Consciousness.
Today the media write and speak about the uprising as if it was an event organised by the ANC.
The distortion of history hits its heights when the limp body of little Hector Pieterson in the hands of Mbuyisa Makhubu is upheld as the symbol of Soweto, when a clenched fist, the symbol of Black Power, would be the most appropriate representation.
We must teach the young the truth in the face of such distortion. Speaking truth to power is today the best service we can give those who died so that we may live.
We need to ask why the names of Tsietsi Mashinini and Khotso Seatlholo are not celebrated as the leaders of the uprising.
The young must be taught why both these amazing young people, who shook the foundations of white rule, refused to join the ANC in exile or on Robben Island and died members of Biko's Black Consciousness Movement?
I had the privilege of sharing a house with Seatlholo after his period on Robben Island. He understood the Kempton Park negotiations as a sell-out solution to rescue white capital and for the few in power, and that such a democracy would continue the suffering of the black majority.
There was a buzz and hive of hushed activity around the imminent return of Mashinini in 1990.
Then a call came from West Africa - Tsietsi was murdered. This was weeks before he would return.
Soweto gave Mashinini a hero's send-off, but Seatlholo never recovered from the blow. He died in 2004.
We must ask if the democracy we have is what the children of Soweto died for?
The state of black education under the ANC is like spitting on the graves of those who said "Enough!"
The best tribute we can pay the braves is to insist that politicians and public servants use public services.
We need to demand good quality service to blacks or be complicit with power in denigrating and defiling the memory of the dead.
lMngxitama will join the September National Imbizo on June 16 at Regina Mundi (Soweto) to promote the people's manifesto, which demands that all politicians and public servants use public services.