Mainstream politics In Sobukwe achieved notoriety backing the Defiance Campaign. He was a strong believer in an Africanist future for South Africa and rejected any model suggesting working with anyone other than Africans, defining African as anyone who lives in and pays his allegiance to Africa and who is prepared to subject himself to African majority rule. He defined non-Africans as anyone who lives in Africa or abroad Africa and who does not pay his allegiance to Africa and who is not prepared to subject himself to African majority rule. His strong convictions and active resistance inspired many other individuals and organisations involved in the anti-apartheid movement, notably the Black Consciousness Movement. The organisation had been established on the university campus by Godfrey Pitje, who later became its president. In Sobukwe was appointed as a teacher at a high school in Standerton, a position he lost when he spoke out in favour of the Defiance Campaign in
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He was the youngest of five boys and one girl. His father worked as a municipal labourer and a part-time woodcutter, his mother as a domestic worker and cook at a local hospital.
Sobukwe was exposed to literature at an early age by his oldest brother. His earliest education was at a mission school in Graaf Reinet. After completing his schooling he received a bursary from the Department of Education and an additional loan from the Bantu Welfare Trust, which enabled him to enrol at Fort Hare University for tertiary education in His keen interest in literature continued and became more focused on poetry and drama.
Sobukwe noted that before going to Fort Hare, he was not very interested in politics. It was his study of Native Administration that aroused his interest in politics. Fort Hare was also the institution in which generations of young Black South Africans and Black students from other African countries were exposed to politics. These influences combined to make Sobukwe more politically active.
In Sobukwe and three of his friends launched a daily publication called Beware. Topics appearing in the paper included non-collaboration and critiques of Native Representative Councils and Native Advisory Boards. His speech as outgoing president of the SRC in October established him as an important figure among his peers.
The couple got married in His dismissal, however, did not last long and he was soon reinstated. Politically, Sobukwe was strongly Africanist, believing that the future of South Africa should be in the hands of Black South Africans. We have come to the parting of the ways and we are here and now giving notice that we are disassociating ourselves from the ANC as it is constituted at present in the Transvaal. A week after the ANC announced its anti-pass campaign in December , the PAC announced that it was planning to initiate a campaign against the pass laws with the aim to free South Africa by On 16 March , Sobukwe wrote to the Commissioner of Police, Major General Rademeyer, stating that the PAC would be holding a five-day, non-violent, disciplined, and sustained protest campaign against pass laws, starting on 21 March.
He made last-minute arrangements for the safety of his family and left his home in Molofo. He intended to give himself up for arrest at the Orlando Police Station in the hope that his actions would inspire other Black South Africans. Along the eight kilometre walk to the police station, small groups of men joined him from neighbouring areas like Phefeni, Dube and Orlando West.
As the small crowd approached the station, most of the marchers, including Sobukwe, were arrested and charged with sedition. When an estimated group of marchers reached Sharpeville police station, the police opened fire killing 69 people and injuring others in what became known as the Sharpeville Massacre. On 4 May Sobukwe was sentenced to three years in prison for inciting Africans to demand the repeal of the pass laws.
He refused to appeal against the sentence, as well as the aid of an attorney, on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction over him as it could not be considered either a court of law or a court of justice. Subsequently, Sobukwe was moved to Robben Island , where he remained for an additional six years. The Clause was never used to detain anyone else. The Sobukwe Clause was renewed every year — when it was due to expire on 30 June , the government renewed it. While on Robben Island, Sobukwe was kept in solitary confinement — his living quarters were separate from the main prison and he had no contact with any other prisoners.
He was, however, allowed access to books and civilian clothes. As a result, Sobukwe spent much of his time studying, and he obtained a degree in Economics from the University of London. He applied to leave the country with his family to take up the employment but was denied permission by the Minister of Justice, John Vorster.
Sobukwe was released from prison in May and was banished to Galeshewe in Kimberley, where he was joined by his family. However, he remained under twelve-hour house arrest and his banning order prohibited him from participating in any political activity. In Sobukwe successfully applied for a teaching post at the University of Wisconsin in the US, but the Apartheid government refused his request for a passport despite assurances that he would be given a visa by the US government.
When he applied to leave South Africa permanently together with his family in , the South African government again refused to give him permission.
While the restrictions kept him under house arrest and denied him permission to leaving South Africa, he was permitted to attend family gatherings outside Kimberley. For instance, in July Sobukwe was granted permission to leave Kimberley to visit his son Dalindyebo, who had been hospitalised in Johannesburg.
In June Sobukwe spent three days in Johannesburg visiting his wife, who underwent an operation at a hospital in Johannesburg. He was granted permission on condition that he report to the police station upon arrival and departure, and that he return to Kimberley by midnight on Friday 9 May , a day after the funeral. Sobukwe began studying Law while he was under house arrest. He completed his articles in Kimberley, and established his own law firm in However, newspapers were not allowed to quote him when he argued in court.
Shortly after opening his law practice, Sobukwe fell ill. In July he applied for permission to go for medical treatment in Johannesburg. Benjamin Pogrund, a close family friend, intervened and on 9 September Sobukwe was allowed to leave Kimberley for Johannesburg under strict conditions. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and his condition was deemed serious.
While he was in the hospital the security branch instructed the medical staff not to permit any visitors to visit him except his family. After deliberate delays by the government, on 14 October he was temporality discharged and Bishop Matolengwe took him from the hospital. Sobukwe was sent back to Kimberley, from he was due to travel back to Cape Town for another round of treatment.
Each time he left Kimberley, he had to report to the police station — which he also had to do when he arrived at or left Cape Town. The government deliberately made it harder for Sobukwe to receive treatment by insisting that he should comply with the conditions of his restrictions, despite his evidently failing health. His funeral was held on 11 March and he was buried in Graaff-Reinet.
Today, he remains a celebrated political figure in the struggle for a democratic South Africa. Buthelezi, J. Boddy-Evans, A.
Who was Robert Sobukwe? He was not exactly interested in politics until his mids. His passion was more in literature and the arts, with a strong inclination towards poetry and drama. In , he enrolled in Fort Hare University — an institution famous for churning out some great African leaders, most famously, former heads of state such as Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe and Thabo Mbeki.
Human Rights Day: Who was Robert Sobukwe?
He was the youngest of five boys and one girl. His father worked as a municipal labourer and a part-time woodcutter, his mother as a domestic worker and cook at a local hospital. Sobukwe was exposed to literature at an early age by his oldest brother. His earliest education was at a mission school in Graaf Reinet.