4 June 2011

Road to South African Freedom

National Democratic Revolution, Part 8a

Road to South African Freedom

Among other things we are trying, in this short series, to recover the fact that the National Democratic Revolution, taken in full, is a project whose origins can be found at least 90 years ago, and which has a continuous history from that time onwards, both outside and inside South Africa.

We are trying to trace the main steps of the NDR in South Africa and have consequently touched, among others, upon the Black Republic Thesis, the Cradock Letter, the Doctors’ Pact, the Defiance Campaign, the Congress of the People and the Freedom Charter, the Peasants’ Revolt, and now the Strategy and Tactics document of the Morogoro, Tanzania conference of the ANC in 1969, which is our main document in this part.

The Treason Trial that followed the Congress of the People came to an end in 1959 with the acquittal of all the defendants. In the same year, the African Communist magazine was launched from exile. It was the first public manifestation of the South African Communist Party, re-established and renamed after the banning and dissolution of the CPSA in 1950.

Between 1959 and the 1969 Morogoro Conference, a number of things happened. New campaigns were launched, but came to an abrupt end following the Sharpeville massacre and the banning of the ANC and the PAC in 1960. Umkhonto we Sizwe was launched in 1961. The raid on Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia took place in 1963. It was a great setback to the movement.

The SACP published the Road to South African Freedom in 1962. It is probably the first published document of the SACP apart from a few quarterly editions of the African Communist (the “AC”) that had appeared up to that time.

The Road to South African Freedom is about National Democratic Revolution. This can be seen from its section specifically on the NDR, where the document spells out that:

“This crisis can only be resolved by a revolutionary change in the social system which will overcome these conflicts by putting an end to the colonial oppression of the African and other non-White people. The immediate and imperative interests of all sections of the South African people demand the carrying out of such a change, a national democratic revolution…”

Things that were said and written in those days continue to be relevant. In a document we will review tomorrow, it is recorded that by 1928, after less than seven years of existence, the Communist Party of South Africa had 1,750 members, and that 1,600 of them were Africans, using the classification of the time. In the 1960s and 1970s there were struggles within the movement that were essentially about class, but which often focused on those few members of the SACP who were white, Indian or Coloured.

We will return to this question in the next post. Meanwhile, let us celebrate two white comrades who must surely have assisted with the publication of the Road to South African Freedom, Hilda and Rusty Bernstein, pictured above.

Please download and read the text via the following link:

Further reading:


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