Solly Mapaila Erred on Robert Sobukwe

Published on 19th February 2019

In an article of 13 February 2019 written by Bongani Nkosi and published in the Star under the headline, “SACP’s Mapaila claims apartheid regime favoured #RobertSobukwe” Solly Mapaila claims PAC founding President Robert Sobukwe “was someone who was favoured by the apartheid regime.” This is propaganda which was spread by the ANC in the 1960’s of which none of them can defend. Mapaila is rehashing the 1960’s trash whose originators no longer want to be associated with.

Mapaila spewed the twaddle that Sobukwe “lived a better life on Robben Island and could not be forgiven for that.” I don’t think Mapaila himself believes this gobbledygook. This is not only drivel but also callous and insensitive to the Sobukwe family, his followers and the people of South Africa, Africa and the world in general. It offends human decency. In religious parlance it is blasphemous.

How on earth could Sobukwe have lived a better life on Robben Island when his food was mixed with broken glasses? How could he have lived a better life when he was poisoned on Robben Island by his captors? How could he have lived a better life when he was operated on without the knowledge and consent of his wife and family? How could he have lived a better life when he was detained unlawfully and indefinitely on Robben Island not by a court of law but by a racist parliament when his term of imprisonment had come to an end? How could he have lived a better life under solitary confinement?

Mapaila says that other political prisoners were treated as slaves, they went to the quarry to crush stones every single day because they were being punished. Is it Sobukwe’s fault that they were ill-treated and crushed stones? Why didn’t they refuse to crush stones like the Black Consciousness Movement political prisoners who were jailed on Robben Island in the 1970’s? Sobukwe would not have agreed to crush stones. Moreover, when Sobukwe was sent to Robben Island, he had completed his jail term. Was it also Sobukwe’s fault that the apartheid government regarded only him as the only political prisoner and the rest as petty criminals? It is because the apartheid government feared him and kept him away from other prisoners because they feared he would influence other prisoners like he did in all the prisoners where he was kept. The apartheid government did not build Sobukwe a house, that house had been there. Mapaila should tell the truth.

Mapaila claims Sobukwe had freedom on Robben Island. He doesn’t even know what freedom is. In fact, even after Sobukwe was released from Robben Island after six years of unlawful detention he never became a free man until his death. The apartheid government also refused to issue him a passport, not even an exit passport to allow him to go abroad for medical treatment, employment or other endeavours. If they loved Sobukwe, why this harsh treatment?

Finally, Sobukwe did not leave the ANC on the basis of its acceptance of white people. In fact, those in the ANC who were known as the Africanists were physically prevented through thuggery from taking part in the 1958 ANC elective conference after they had convinced the majority of ANC members to reject a document of dubious origin known as the Freedom Charter. And they left with the traditions of the ANC of 1912 to go and form the Pan Africanist Congress.

Mapaila bandies the phrase ‘non-racialism’ about ignoring the fact that it was because of Sobukwe that it entered into English lexicon when ANC leaders were talking about multi-racialism. Mapaila should not forget that his organisation the CPSA now SACP began as a racist organization

By Sam Ditshego

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