Mandela and Sobukwe: The Power of Images

Published on 27th March 2018

Many people would concur that images are powerful symbols that leave indelible imprints in the minds of people. This fact is especially true during this era of television. Media moguls use television and other media outlets for sinister motives such as propaganda tools. Television is also used to convey subliminal messages to convey ideas they want their audiences to imbibe and regurgitate. Those who have studied secret societies can tell by observing members’ hand signs, symbols and insignia that they belong to those secret societies. The thesis that says images send powerful messages is therefore not idle talk. On Sharpeville Day the 21st March 2018 eNCA television had a live television debate which they removed from the web after about a day or two because they didn't like the contribution of one of the participant's Ms Lebohang Pheko on Robert Sobukwe and the PAC. I urged people in the social media to inundate eNCA television with calls to put back the debate. They have since put the video back on the web.

Where am I going with this? I grew up during apartheid when there was no television and don’t remember seeing photos of Robert Sobukwe anywhere. I went to exile in the mid-1970’s and came back in the mid-1990’s and I don’t remember seeing images of Robert Sobukwe on SABC television even once. This year only, the Sunday Independent posted about three times a big photograph of a smiling Robert Sobukwe. Considering that the Sunday Independent is a weekly publication, it means the newspaper has published Robert Sobukwe’s photos every month since the beginning of 2018. In 24 years’ time South African Broadcasting Corporation television has not shown -- even fleetingly – a single picture of Robert Sobukwe. The truism ‘out of sight out of mind’ holds water.

On the 38th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre, SABC’s Channel 404 flashed the picture of Nelson Mandela more than a 100 times accompanied by inappropriate March 21, 1960 images. The Channel 404 advertisement says those images are a celebration of Mandela’s centenary. To most people, that is like fitting a square pack in a round hole. What does Mandela’s centenary have to do with the struggle or our liberation? What does his centenary have to do with the 21 March 1960 events that culminated in the temporary suspension of passes and the crippling of South Africa’s economy which was boosted by US companies and banks such as Chase Manhattan? What is its significance?

Mandela and his centenary have nothing to do with Sobukwe’s and the PAC’s Positive Action campaign that led to events that took place in Sharpeville and Langa in Cape Town on the 21st March 1960. It makes perfect sense – but not to the SABC apparatchiks – that that Channel 404 advertisement alluded to should be accompanied by Robert Sobukwe’s picture to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death. Last year the SABC and ANC used the 37th anniversary of Sharpeville Day to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Steve Biko.

Does it not make sense, therefore, that this year’s Sharpeville Day should have been used by the SABC to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Robert Sobukwe’s death because this day is directly attributable to him and the PAC? In fact, the SABC television should dedicate the entire 2018 to commemorating the 40th anniversary of Robert Sobukwe’s death and to finding out where his audio and visual recordings are instead of being part of those who concealed them.

The apartheid government, supported by the capitalist West and socialist East, had their reasons for proscribing Sobukwe’s PAC and removing everything about him out of circulation and of earshot, especially, of posterity hoping that everybody will forget about him. What are the SABC’s and the ANC government’s reasons for treating Robert Sobukwe the way the apartheid government did and consigning him to the scrap hip of history? Why is SABC television refusing to show pictures of Sobukwe on their screens? Granted that the SABC claims they don’t have Sobukwe’s recordings but they have his pictures. Why don’t they show his pictures? This also applies to eNCA irrespective of being privately owned. Being privately owned is not a licence to be tendentious. The eNCA television recurrently shows pictures of ANC, DA and EFF politicians and their logos but never shows pictures of PAC leaders and its beautiful logo of the map of Africa that bears a star shining from Ghana (the first independent country in Africa) and spreading its radiance or rays throughout the African continent. This a sign of a subliminal message drilling in the minds of the uninitiated which parties to vote for during the elections of which the SABC is also guilty. However, my concern is with the SABC because it is a public broadcaster.

The constant bombardment of audiences with the picture of Mandela is another subliminal message of rubbing it in viewers the logical fallacy that he is the only important historical figure who fought for this country’s liberation and his organisation is the only one that fought for this country’s liberation as the current fairy tale narrative would have us believe. This constant bombardment of audiences with Mandela’s picture to the exclusion of Sobukwe’s pictures betrays the identity of those who call the shots at the SABC. They are those Mandela in 1992 said had genuine fears which must be addressed while at the same time Mandela said Africans must not have unrealistic expectations.

White people must be thanking their lucky stars that they had a godsend in a person who reasoned the way Mandela did. To Mandela, the unrealistic fears of white people superseded the aspirations of the African people. That is why white people can bombard their television audiences with a thousand images of Mandela and not show a single image of Sobukwe even once in 24 years. And the SABC apparatchiks and board don’t see anything wrong with such an obscenity that offends the eye and stinks to high heaven.

By not showing Sobukwe’s pictures and the PAC logo the SABC apparatchiks and board are trying to expunge Sobukwe’s memory from the collective consciousness of the African people. This move has nefarious intentions and negative connotations similar to those of the racist members of the apartheid government who may be pulling the strings behind the scenes. The SABC and ANC utilise propaganda methods that resemble those of the Nazis. They monopolise South Africa by a propaganda machine. Almost every facet of South African life is dictated by propaganda. The most successful sphere of influence of the SABC and ANC is in the promotion of anti-Sobukwe and anti-PAC sentiments among the South African people. The SABC and ANC are successful in creating such an effective propaganda that some people are moved to hating the PAC and Sobukwe. The actions of the SABC and ANC might therefore constitute hate speech.

Propaganda is comprised of messages that people want to hear, lies that are so outlandish and extreme that a new reality is created. Another important propaganda concept is repetition. The more an issue or idea is repeated the more likely that it may become a new reality. Propaganda is effective when it creates subconscious actions in order to effect transformation and coordination of society. This explain the reason most South Africans vote for the governing party. Therefore, the actions of the SABC are not motivated by indifference or any other consideration than to keep the ANC in power.

Why would the SABC not want to show a photo of a person who sacrificed his entire life so that we could be free? Sobukwe was never free after the 21 March 1960 anti-pass campaign until his death in 1978. The SABC completely ignored the 40th anniversary of his death on the 27th February this year and during the entire month of February. The ANC is a rival of the PAC and it is preposterous for the SABC as a public broadcaster to take its cue from the governing party on how to cover Sobukwe’s contribution to South Africa’s struggle for liberation. The SABC is not supposed to take sides between the PAC and ANC. It is expected to be impartial in the true sense of the word.

By Sam Ditshego

The author is an independent researcher.

This article has been read 11,101 times