Young Lions Image 1976 by Peter Magubane

Robert Sobukwe: Lion of Resistance

Robert Sobukwe was the leader of the Sharpville uprising, (anti-pass campaign) March 21 1960.
“Sons and Daughters of the Soil, Remember Africa! Very soon, now, we shall be launching our campaign. The step we are taking is historical, pregnant with untold possibilities. We must, therefore, appreciate our role. We must appreciate our responsibility. The African people have entrusted their whole future to us. And we have sworn that we are leading them, not to death, but to life abundant.My instructions, therefore, are that our people must be taught NOW and CONTINUOUSLY, THAT IN THIS CAMPAIGN we are going to observe ABSOLUTE NON-VIOLENCE. There are those in our own ranks who will be speaking irresponsibly of bloodshed and violence. They must be firmly told what our stand is. Let us consider for a moment, what violence will achieve. I say quite POSITIVELY, without fear of contradiction, that the only people who will benefit from violence are the government and the police. Immediately violence breaks out, we will be taken up with it and give vent to our pent-up emotions and feel that by throwing a stone at a Saracen, or burning a particular building we are small revolutionaries engaged in revolutionary warfare. But after a few days, when we have buried our dead and made moving graveside speeches and our emotions have settled again, the police will round up a few people and the rest will go back to the Passes, having forgotten what our goal had been initially. Incidentally, in the process, we shall have alienated the masses who feel that we have made cannon fodder of them, for no significant purpose except for spectacular newspaper headlines.
This is not a game. We are not gambling. We are taking our first step in the march to African independence and the United States of Africa. And we are not leading corpses to the new Africa. We are leading the vital, breathing and dynamic youth of our land. We are leading that youth, NOT TO DEATH, BUT TO LIFE ABUNDANT. Let us get that clear. The government, knowing that they stand to gain by an outbreak of violence, may most probably swoop down to the level of employing certain African political renegades to throw a stone at the police from a distance. Our Task Force will, therefore, have to move on either side of every batch to make sure they deal with saboteurs. Anybody who agitates for violence or starts violence whether he belongs to P.A.C. or not, we will regard as a paid agent of the government. Let the masses know that NOW. The principal aim of our Campaign is to get ourselves arrested, get our women remaining at home. This means that nobody will be going to work. Industry will come to a standstill and the government will be forced to accept our terms. And once we score that victory, there will be nothing else we will not be able to tackle. But we must know quite clearly, NOW, that our struggle is an unfolding one, one campaign leading on to another, in a NEVER-ENDING STREAM – until independence is won.
The white rulers are going to be extremely ruthless. But we must meet their hysterical brutality with calm, iron determination. We are fighting for the noblest cause on earth, the liberation of mankind. They are fighting to retrench an outworn, anachronistic vile system of oppression. We represent progress. They represent decadence. We represent the fresh fragrance of flowers in bloom; they represent the rancid smell of decaying vegetation. We have the whole Continent on our side. We have history on our side. WE WILL WIN. The government will be ruthless. They will probably try to cut us off from one another, censor the press, use their propaganda machinery to malign the leaders, mislead the people and spread falsehoods about the Campaign. Let nobody depend on either the press or radio. I, myself, MANGALISO SOBUKWE, or one of the P.A.C. leaders, acting on my behalf, will call off the struggle, after our demands have been fully met.”

"There is only one man in the world, And his name is All men. There is only one woman in all the world, And her name is All women! ”

Shadows of Justice

Find these stories and others in Shadows of Justice, a history from the other side and a real perspective on the liberation struggle for South Africa's peaceful transformation.