By Andile Mngxitama
I was born on a white-owned farm. I was raised on white-owned farms. I went to farm schools for my primary schooling (Letjhabile Primary School and Terra Peccana Primary School). My parents were farm workers. They, like all other adults I knew growing up, lived to make the lives of the white farmers they worked for heaven on earth. I know first hand who works the land to feed the nation. It’s not white farmers. It’s people like my parents.
Farm workers are the most oppressed segment of the South African society. They produce food which they aren’t allowed to eat. Often, they get killed for nothing – the white farmer is law unto themselves. A man I grew up considering as my grandfather is buried in one of those farms. It all comes back to the land question. The land question is a personal matter to me.
On the 8 December, I shall be introducing Black First Land First (BLF) to my home town Potchefstroom/Tlokwe (there is also a new name). A mini-rally will be held at the Tlokwe Stadium. This weekend, the national BLF leadership will be in Tlokwe on the ground mobilizing for the rally.
Since this decision to go back home was taken, I have been thinking about my childhood and youth. The feelings going through me are overwhelming. I’m lucky to say my Grade 2 teacher is still alive. I’m going to see her after all these years and she’s got stories about me and school.
I was brought to Black Consciousness by Basie Simphiwe Gugushe. He went to Robben Island as a class warrior of COSAS, he was even named Slovo. He came back a black nationalist of Steve Biko. He dropped the name Slovo to revert back to Simphiwe. He had a scar above one of his eyes, an incident on the Island when he left Slovo for Biko. He was only about 16 when the system locked him up. He spent five years on the Island. He was murdered when he was 23. I still believe by UDF comrades.
His brother is comrade Mawila. He suffered because his brother was a revolutionary. He too became one. Brave and daring. They tortured him beyond repair. They once took him and threw him in the Vaal dam in the middle of the night. Wounds.
I’m going home to be on the ground with those I grew up with. I will tell them there is hope. I will visit and listen and learn from those who have been evicted from farms and now live on the outskirts of the township as squatters. Landless farmers!
I hope to see great patriots of Tlokwe, the likes of Hezekiel Sepeng – the sensational 800 meters Olympic silver medalist. We are from the same farm, same school. I hope to see Mpho Lebese, a friend and comrade who is forever smiling, and many others not on Facebook. I also hope to see and interact with my former high school mates, we once kicked out from our school our white principal and teachers (this is one of my most proudest moments of activism). All those young women back then became my bodyguards when I came under attack for believing in Black Consciousness, black women have saved my life more than once. My AZASM comrades.
I’m going home to introduce our movement. I have been reflecting a lot on these. I can only hope our message will resonate with the people whose lives first shaped mine so deeply.
See you in Tlokwe.
Land or Death!
Take BLF to Parliament