To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
31 May 2008 08:01
Stalwarts of South Africa’s struggle for freedom from apartheid are angered and saddened at the xenophobic violence sweeping the country.
“We did not struggle to find ourselves in this present situation,” Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni said at the opening of the Liliesleaf Farm museum on Friday.
South Africans regard others as foreigners in their own country, and they are looting and destroying other people’s property, he told a small gathering of struggle comrades and African National Congress (ANC) leaders.
“I don’t know whether [these acts are perpetrated by] the youth or whether a force is behind this,” said Mlangeni.
“I can’t see a thing of this nature starting here today, tomorrow it’s there, the following days it’s there in a different province ... There must be something behind it.
I don’t know, a well-funded thing.
“The government is not able to put its finger on it and say it is this and this and that.
“That is what annoys me. It makes me very angry. It makes me very sad,” Mlangeni said.
Also speaking out against the recent violence was another Rivonia trialist, Denis Goldberg.
“We’ve seen an explosion of violence in the past couple of weeks. It’s out of frustration, ” Goldberg said.
In shaping the country’s future, South Africans have to learn from the past, and do so in a way that does not make conditions better for just a few.
“We do really need to find ways in business, in the private sector ... to make [life] better for our people as a whole, and it’s urgent. There isn’t time anymore,” he said. “We need to be there among our people enabling our people to do it for themselves and not be dependent as we were under apartheid.”
Police arrested 18 of the Rivonia trialists in a raid on the Liliesleaf farm in Rivonia on July 11 1963.
The home of the Umkhonto weSizwe headquarters, Liliesleaf Farm also served as a hideout for leaders of the ANC and the South African Communist Party, including former president Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu.
It was not “merely a place of brick, stone and memories”, but “a symbol of courage and daring, of defiance and resilience”, said ANC president Jacob Zuma.
Although its veterans came back as free people, living in a democratic and non-racial society, the country is “still engaged in struggle”, he said.
“We may no longer be fighting an armed struggle against a racist enemy. But the struggles we must now undertake are no less challenging.”
Today’s struggle was that of freeing the country’s people from the legacy of oppression, exploitation and dispossession.
“We have to build a nation, we have to run an economy, we have to defeat poverty. We have to end malnutrition and combat disease,” said Zuma.
“We have to work with our brothers and sisters to build a better Africa and a better world.”—Sapa
Create Account | Lost Your Password?