As we remember Christ on the cross, let’s also remember Chris Hani on the ground bleeding.
By Andile Mngxitama
I was raised politically in the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). We were raised on the diet of ‘criticism of the lack of black focus of the African National Congress and its alliance partners’.
BCM people do not even take Joe Slovo seriously, and I believe for good reason. Anyway, my own attitude was that Chris Hani was a disciplined cadre of the ANC and therefore there was no way he was going to go against the Mandela deal. So I put equal responsibility on him as I did on Mandela and the rest of them in the sell out settlement on 1994.
Do note, I have since revised my take on this, I think the Nelson Mandela deal can in fact be read progressively. It was a tactically correct move to give blacks control of the state so that they could create favourable conditions to continue with the struggle. Look out for my presentation coming up on Mandela Day in July this year, “Was Mandela a Sell-out?”
Anyway, this position I held on Chris Hani was the only disagreement I ever had with brother Frank Wilderson, the great black American scholar and revolutionary. Frank had come to South Africa (SA) and was recruited into uMkhonto we Sizwe. Those were the years before the first democratic elections – Frank was enlisted as an operative and had first hand experience with the FW de Klerk sponsored war in the black townships through the hand of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). He was a soldier in an army that had Chris Hani as its de facto ultimate commander. His cell was one of those briefed to fight back in the event that something happened to the big chiefs like Mandela and Walter Sisulu. They didn’t know that it was their commander who was to be the target of the enemy.
Ironically, it was through the eyes of a black American that I came to see Chris as a figure in the Christ mode. Many forget that the systematisation of Pan Africanism and Black Consciousness was also through the black diaspora because we are one as blacks in a world that is anti black.
As I got to understand through Frank Wilderson, Hani’s commitment and connection with the people and the army, and his refusal to join the political class as it prepared to moved into the state – I started to change my perspective. It was through reading Frank Wilderson that I came to understand what an extraordinary revolutionary Chris Hani was. His letter to the sleeping ANC in exile; his expulsion for questioning his movement at such great risk, made me see a Christ-like figure in Chris.
In the assassination of Chris I also got to understand that the white right-wing understands instinctively which force is dangerous to its survival and it takes action to silence and ban such a voice, often violently. Chris was a major threat because he couldn’t be bought. If he could question the ANC in the cold lonely space of exile, what more would he have done in the “democratic” SA?
Today, as Christians remember Christ on the cross, let’s all also remember Chris on the ground bleeding so that we may fight on till true liberation is gained.
Redemption is finally in the struggle itself for, like Christ, Chris Hani didn’t die in vain. Both were betrayed for money!
Long Live Chris Hani!
Andile Mngxitama is the President of Black First Land First (BLF), a radical black consciousness organization.