We must remember Sobukwe

TtHIRTY AGO years on February 27 1978 Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe passed away. The celestial and majestic simplicity of this great man is awe-inspiring.

As a nation we cannot afford the luxury of amnesia. Far too often we forget how privileged we are to live in a country where democracy prevails, where citizens' rights are enshrined in a constitution and workers' rights in legislation.

We forget that in our daily lives many things we take for granted were brought to us on the backs of those who went before and were won with blood, sweat and tears.

Sobukwe was immensely gifted and used every bit of his talent to address, improve and dignify the conditions of human life. He left the South African people a powerful legacy of commitment to freedom and integrity.

Sobukwe won the reverence of the people with the simplicity and austerity of his life, and with his infinite confidence he moved the masses to break away from fear and oppression.

We record our homage and deep admiration for Sobukwe and others who in our hours of peril forsook the shelter of their homes and with unfailing courage and endurance stood shoulder to shoulder with others to defeat oppression.

We cannot simply forget and move on. As a nation we have to cherish those remembrances that have become our history. We need the foundation that is our collective memory of who we are, what we are and whence we came.

We cannot let Sobukwe go into some dark night, pretending that he has not not left a void or pretending that the void he left will be filled by distractions of the present.

So far have we come and so much have we forgotten, that most of us would not willingly conceive of any system in which the right to vote is reserved for the rich, privileged and powerful. The peace was won by valiant and brave men of Sobukwe's ilk.

Farouk Araie, Benoni