The revolutionary legacy of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela – and those of his African National Congress (ANC) comrades Walter Sisulu, Joe Slovo, Ahmad Katharada, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani and numerous others – burns brightly despite attempts to decontextualise their struggle and resurrect Mandela and co. as titans only of aid.
Instead of seeking charitable reforms, their fierce opposition against the Apartheid regime involved constant mass mobilisation of all those opposed to colonialism and imperialism.
This included forming a broad anti-Apartheid political coalition with the Communist Party of South Africa, the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Trade Unions, the Coloured People’s Congress and the South African Congress of Democrats among others, creating the Congress of the People and issuing the Freedom Charter that set out the fundamental restructuring of South African society.
In other words, they did not seek reform and accommodation within existing structures but called forth a revolution that included rule by the people, nationalisation of its economic behemoths and reorientation of trade and industry towards the well-being of the people.
While today we celebrate Mandela as the beacon of humanity, we should recall his decades spent in active organisation against oppression – and guard against transforming his struggle into charitable acts.
Our focus must remain on the root causes of our conditions and, as our Manifesto states, to continue organising against the oligarchy that continues to prevent the democratisation of Europe and beyond.
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