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Vanguard and revolutionary mass: dialogue with Mohlakeng comrades

By Andile Mngxitama

I was in Mohlakeng, the township of the late genius Patrick Pule “Ace” Ntsoelengoe, on Sunday 27 October. I had made a promise to Tshepo, when we bumped into each other a few weeks ago in the streets, that I would come and participate in his group’s discussions. I’m glad to say that I honored my promise.

What a dynamic group of committed revolutionaries. We discussed deep questions of black liberation and strategies of emancipation. It’s groups like this which can serve as catalysts for revolutionary change. The group is non-partisan. It’s above party political squabbles. I feel rejuvenated….

The one admirable and really surprising thing I found was that these comrades were totally indifferent to the big soccer game going on. I asked about this. The response I got was more or less that there are more important things to do than watch soccer.

This fascinated me because if the revolution is to succeed, we need a layer of self sacrificing “professional revolutionaries”. This is the vanguard of the revolution.

I pointed out that the vanguard must not be too far away from the masses, but at the same time it must not sink to the level of the masses. The vanguard must take the ideas from the mass experience and distill them, thereafter return those ideas to the masses as elevated revolutionary theory to improve practice.

As Mao Zedong counsels:

“Take the ideas of the masses and concentrate them, then go to the masses, persevere in the ideas and carry them through, so as to form correct ideas of leadership – such is the basic method of leadership”.

What would eventually lead to a tipping point is when mass culture is radicalized – when in this case soccer is no longer the opium but the zone of collective mass pleasure for revolutionary ends.

We need the vanguard. We also desperately need the revolutionary mass! The vanguard secures the mass and the revolution. Every township, every informal settlement, every village must have this vanguard doing revolution 24/7. There is no short cut to liberation.

A minimum program of demands which has the best potential to unite all blacks irrespective of party political affiliation, was explored with the Mohlakeng Group as an urgent task. It must be done…

Andile Mngxitama is the President of the black consciousness (BC) organization, Black First Land First.

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