V. TETEKIN, Candidate of Historical Sciences
UNKNOWN PAGES OF THE LIBERATION MOVEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA
The political struggle of the clash of major social forces is most often viewed through the prism of the personalities of the leaders or, if we take military terminology, the "generals" of the opposing sides. In South Africa, for example, such a symbolic figure is Nelson Mandela. Dozens of books, hundreds of articles, and thousands of public speeches are devoted to his life and work. As a symbol of the perseverance of the black population of South Africa in the struggle against the apartheid regime, it certainly deserves it.
The problem, however, is that the attention of researchers rarely turns to the "infantry" of political struggle, which begins not with the creation of large "armies", but with the emergence of small resistance groups, which gradually merge into "battalions", "regiments" and" divisions " of the liberation movement.
This is the gradual path taken by anti-apartheid forces in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. It should be noted that in 1960, the democratic organizations in this country were crushed. The African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) have gone underground, with their leaders imprisoned and in exile. Even earlier, in 1950, the Communist Party of South Africa was banned. Since the early 1960s, especially after the Rivonia trial, in which Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and other leaders of the armed liberation struggle were sentenced to life in prison, there has been a sharp decline in anti-racist protests in South Africa.
The field of political struggle, figuratively speaking, was covered with multi-ton rollers of police repression, filled with concrete prison walls, covered with propaganda earth of the white government of South Africa, and at the very top of this "flowerbed", masking the real state of affairs, were artificial flowers of tourist avenues that represented South Africa as a country of serene peace.
In fact, beneath the layers that had buried the political hopes of the black population, life continued to glow. Gradually, the healthy forces of the people began to make their way to the surface, as grass and flowers make their way through the asphalt of sidewalks and roads. These fresh shoots did not come from the careful care of the gardener, but in spite of the ruthless scythe of the racist government's special services, which sought to cut down any sign of discontent and resistance.
It is generally accepted that the resurgence of the mass democratic movement in South Africa began with the spontaneous uprising of schoolchildren in Soweto in June 1976.-
stno is suppressed. But it was from this time that numerous public organizations began to emerge, which by the mid-80s joined the United Democratic Front, which became the supporting structure of the legal anti-apartheid movement.
However, in fact, the first sprouts of the resistance movement appeared long before the Soweto uprising. An example of how in the early 70s, 10 years after the ban of AN K, the young growth of the liberation movement gradually began to make its way up is the fate of Beka Langi , a schoolboy from the province of Natal, then one of the activists of the legal and, later, underground struggle. It was these young activists who became the basis for the powerful rise of the liberation struggle, which in the early 90s overthrew the seemingly unshakable apartheid regime. After many years of political emigration and studying in the Soviet Union, Beki Langa later became Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Africa to the Russian Federation.
At first, there was no sign of his diplomatic career. The life of the young Beka was not much different from the hopeless existence of millions of his peers, who had little chance of a decent life in the conditions of a racist regime.
Becky Langi's father was the pastor of a small African church. The large family - seven children-lived in poverty, and giving them all at least a school education meant almost unbearable expenses for their parents.
Pastor Langa and his family traveled around the country a lot and raised their children in the spirit of independent thinking. Becky and her friends really wanted to know how people live in other countries. Since high school, they began to get acquainted with forbidden, underground literature, from where they learned about Nelson Mandela, about the history of the ANC. And then they began to understand that they should not live as they were forced to live under apartheid.
In 1971, Becky graduated from school in the village of Kwa-Mashu, near the city of Durban, the road to study further, like for most Africans, was closed to him. I started looking for a job. I found the lowest paid one (as a loader in a department store) only after 10 months. White school - leavers of their own age immediately went to university or got a job, while Africans were doomed to unemployment or unskilled work with the prospect, at best, of turning into a small-time clerk in many years.
In search of a way out, Becky Lang and his friends began to take an active interest in politics. They read a lot about the liberation struggle in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and studied books by Kwame Nkrumah and Franz Fannon. These books were not commercially available, but they were available from the South African Institute of Race Relations.
The fact that the students of the early 70s still remembered the ANC demonstrations in the late 50s also contributed to their involvement in politics. The Beki Lang brothers hid ANC books, and their home was raided by the police. One of the brothers became a member of the teachers ' union , a non-political organization. But even such a display of social activity was dangerous in those days. Every politically active African was immediately placed under surveillance by the security police.
Gradually, Becky Langa and his friends came to the conclusion that they needed to organize themselves in an environment where not only the ANC and the PAK, but also virtually any political activity of black South Africans was banned. Several ANC veterans lived in the village. But they were being watched by the police. So I had to deal with them very carefully. Moreover, it was necessary to avoid infiltration of security police agents into the ranks of youth activists.
There were five of them then. Of course, Beki Langa and his comrades couldn't act openly. They were well aware of the repressions, the "Law on Suppression of Communism", and the law punishing "promotion of the goals of prohibited organizations". So they decided to create an umbrella organization. The law allowed organizing youth general education groups. That's what they decided to use.
In August 1972, Beki Langa and his comrades established one of the first youth organizations in the village of Kva-Mashu (after the ANC ban in 1960). We wrote its charter and chose its management. Mpagama Mbete became President, and Temba Kubeka (now South African Ambassador to Angola) became Secretary for Organizational Affairs. Becky Langa was elected secretary.
They registered with the local municipality in order to be able to use certain premises for meetings of activists. By the nature of its activities, the organization was not political. The focus was on cultural events, and the official goal stated at registration was to get young people off the street. Poetry evenings, fashion shows, concerts, and parties were held. Becky Langa wrote poems and songs himself. According to him, "it was a very fun time."
But there was a secret side to it - explaining the essence of what was happening to young people and mobilizing them to join the ranks of anti-apartheid fighters. But then it was dangerous even to speak openly about the injustice of the existing order.
Young people in those years were under the influence of ideology
"black self-awareness". Her idol was Steve Biko (who was killed by the police in 1977). He played an important role in the creation of the youth movement: he coordinated the activities of emerging groups, conducted seminars, and gathered activists. Becky Langa and his friends made connections with the Black Community Program run by Biko. The "black consciousness" movement was legal, which made it possible to work among students and young people in general.
They listened to ANC Radio Svoboda from Dar es Salaam and Moscow Radio broadcasts and knew that the ANC was alive and well. It gave them strength. But their parents scolded them for their interest in political activity, because it was a dangerous occupation.
Gradually, they began to unite with groups in other cities that were still purely youth, but were already beginning to take on a political character. In 1973, the Natal Youth Organization (MES) was established. By the way, it was then that Baleka Mbete, the current head of the National Assembly of South Africa and chairman of the ANC, whose brother Mpagama was already a member of the MOI leadership, was involved in the political struggle.
In September 1973, a meeting of the Regional Executive Committee of the Ministry of Education and Science was held with the invitation of the heads of a number of other youth organizations. As it turned out, one of them was a police informant. Two days later, the police arrested Becky Lang and several other MON leaders. Some of them were charged with attempted murder, while others were encouraged to become witnesses for the prosecution. They were kept in solitary confinement and regularly beaten. The police tried to break the spirit of the young activists, recalling the fate of Mandela and Sisulu, who had already been in prison for many years.
Becky Lang and his companions did not "cooperate" with the police, and eventually, after four months in prison, they were all released in January 1974.
The Ministry of Education and Science joined forces with youth groups in neighboring provinces: in the Eastern part of the Cape Province and in the so-called Border Province.
Then with groups in the Transvaal and the Western Cape. So the National Youth Organization (NMO) was born.
Some time after the creation of the NMO, Beki Langa and his associates began to seek connections with the ANC. This was not easy, because the ANC was deeply underground. They even traveled to neighboring countries, in particular to Botswana, where they reached illegally.
In May 1975, the police uncovered these links when a youth activist was detained at the border with Botswana with a cargo of banned literature. Arrests were made. Beki Langa was also captured and became one of the seven defendants in the high-profile "National Youth Organization case". They were charged with "terrorism" and " supporting communism." In the list of accused, Beki Langa was listed under No. 6. The fifth was Amos Masondo, now the mayor of the economic capital of South Africa, Johannesburg.
They were held in solitary confinement at the Johannesburg Central Prison and the Security Police Prison. They were tortured into becoming prosecution witnesses. But they refused.
This was the largest political trial since the famous Rivonia trial. The court sessions were held in front of a large crowd. And after ANC fighters detonated a device near the office of one of the largest newspapers in Johannesburg, scattering leaflets that told about the trial, a crowd of thousands of sympathizers of the accused invariably gathered outside the courthouse. The authorities, spooked by the powerful displays of solidarity, moved the trial from Johannesburg to Pretoria, to the Old Synagogue where the Rivonia trial once took place.
Eventually, five of the defendants were acquitted, as witnesses at the trial began to recant the statements they had previously given to investigators. Amos Masondo received a five-year prison sentence on fr. Robin and Becky Langa were released in May 1976, a month before the Soweto school uprising. However, it was clear that he would not be out for long, as the security police would start looking for other reasons to put him behind bars. So he had to go into political exile.
Black South Africans did not have international passports. So Beki Langa crossed the border illegally. Everything was organized by the underground structures of the ANC. First he went to Swaziland, and from there to Mozambique, which by then had gained independence. The ANC then moved him to Tanzania, where he worked for two years at the ANC headquarters in the Scholarship Department. The fact is that after the Soweto uprising, a flow of young people from South Africa to neighboring countries began. As a rule, they wanted to get military training and return home as quickly as possible. But the ANC believed that we should also think about the future. Therefore, some young people went to study in African and European countries. First of all, to the socialist countries that provided many scholarships.
After some time, he went to the USSR and Becky Lang. First he studied at the preparatory Faculty in Kharkiv, then at the Plekhanov Institute in Moscow, from which he graduated in 1984, and in 1987-postgraduate studies in the Department of Political Economy. He defended his dissertation on new trends in the international division of labor (on the example of South Africa).
In 1987, after completing his PhD in Economics, he returned to Africa and began working in the Economics Department of the ANC headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia. I did an internship at one of the English universities. After the ban on the ANC was lifted in 1991, he worked at the University of Durban-Westville Research Institute in Natal Province.
After the ANC's victory in the historic 1994 elections, Beki Langa became Director of the Kwazulu - Natal Provincial Economic Development Department. In 2003, he became head of the National Institute for Economic Policy. Since 2005-Ambassador of South Africa to the Russian Federation.
This is how the fate of a young political activist turned out, one of the first who rose up to fight in conditions when the very idea of fighting seemed unthinkable.
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