Biko's influence being erased by ANC hegemony

As former black consciousness leaders under the umbrella of the 70s Group gather this weekend to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Steve Biko's death, questions have been raised about the diminishing Biko Legacy. A leading political expert has placed the blame for this at the feet of the ANC and its sidelining of first the PAC and then the Black Consciousness Movement, so as to gain ideological hegemony in the country's political space pre- and post-1994. "There is a continuous ANC-fication of our historical memory. There had been a deliberate effort by the ANC to airbrush other black political leaders...
As former black consciousness leaders under the umbrella of the 70s Group gather this weekend to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Steve Biko's death, questions have been raised about the diminishing Biko Legacy.

A leading political expert has placed the blame for this at the feet of the ANC and its sidelining of first the PAC and then the Black Consciousness Movement, so as to gain ideological hegemony in the country's political space pre- and post-1994.

"There is a continuous ANC-fication of our historical memory. There had been a deliberate effort by the ANC to airbrush other black political leaders and delete them from our memory so as to consolidate their power," said political analyst, Xolani Dube.

He said this began before the launch of the Freedom Charter in 1955 and continued beyond 1994. In the process, the ANC elbowed the BCM and the Pan Africanist Congress so that it (ANC) appeared as the only movement that liberated the country.

"Today it is taboo to raise the issue of black consciousness or Pan-Africanism in the ANC. The idea of blackness is a threat to the establishment of this country, yet this is at the heart of how the South African politics is being structured," Dube said.

He said the ANC knew that memories are a powerful tool, hence they even tried to portray Robben Island as the "University of the ANC" when, in fact, other non-ANC leaders were incarcerated there.

He said the ANC had watered down Biko's influence as they did with late Pan Africanist Congress founder, Robert Sobukwe, and New Unity Movement leader, Mda Mda. The ANC did this because it knew that Biko and others represented the true aspiration of the black people of South Africa.

Dube cited Sobukwe, who the apartheid authorities hated and declared a menace and even enacted a legislation, the "Sobukwe Clause" in order to keep him in jail perpetually.

"How can the ANC in its history talk about Mda but leave out Sobukwe, who was Mda's protégé and a member of the ANC Youth League? The issue of Steve Biko must be seen in this context. They understood that Biko was not liberal, but was on the side of consciousness," Dube said.

Dube said post-Biko, the Black Conscious Movement floundered, and the Azanian People's Organisation lost the plot leading to infighting that resulted in numerous splinter groups. The post-Biko BCM was not going to succeed at all because they were not destined to rule as they were not trusted by the white rulers and the British who anointed the ANC to do that.

The ANC lost in turn plot when it was "infiltrated by whites from the SACP and members of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) and Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC) who "gobbled" up the ANC and changed its ideological direction prior Freedom Charter launch in 1955.

Sobukwe, Mda and later Biko, who all had created ideological foundation for black liberation, became targets because they were not liberal.

Dube said Biko, Sobukwe, Mda and first ANC Youth League president, Anton Lembede represented the authentic cries of black or African liberation, hence they were rejected by the ANC.

"They were not in the core of the liberals. Those who espouse Pan-Africanism and black consciousness agenda in the ANC were purged on the road to 1955. A conceited effort was then made to delete their memory in the minds of the people by the ANC even to date.

"As Sobukwe and Mda were not willing to kneel and beg and be submissive they lost ground . Like Sobukwe, Mda was the most intellectual person in the ANC. An intellectual par excellence. Sobukwe, Mda and Biko were the leaders that gave us goosebumps when we talk about them, they gave us hope," Dube said.

The black agenda was lost prior to 1955 and the ANC was today still controlled by the remnants of the Congress of Democrats, NIC and TIC who lead negotiations to provide strategy in negotiations with the Minerals/Energy Complex.

"The departure of Biko, Sobukwe and Mda was the death of true black person's struggle in this country. The fabrication of the ANC rise by the British was the ambiguous reincarnation of black man's identity and the struggle henceforth," Dube said.

ericn@citizen.co.za

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