From The Shopfloor: Not Yet Uhuru

Devastating consequencesThe Cape Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes came up with something new. He limited the land that a black farmer could own, the government closed the free market to black people, it became illegal for African people to purchase land in white areas. Black people were forced to stay in the already overcrowded reserves. The purpose was to force the black farmers to work on the white-owned farms and mining industries. Hut tax was introduced, that means a person should pay for every hut built on his or her land. Location Act, Native Trust, Land Bill and later more regulations were introduced. These were all designed to get the African farmers. Africa was reduced to dependency on the industrial capital of Europe for its own commodities. This is one clear example that imperialist profit for Europe was more important than the lives of black people. The 1913 Land Act was passed in parliament, and the British Governor was called to sign. This Act has had devastating consequences for black people, dispossessing their land birthright. Whites were fined if they allowed blacks on their land, they were not allowed to own land in African areas either. That was the beginning of the homeland system, migrant labour and apartheid.Millions of African people had to depend on wages just to stay alive. Out of these hardships came a new birth, the birth of the working class, a class that had to depend on other people to survive. Employers found out that they don’t have enough workers in the mining industries. Blacks were not interested in the mining industry. A father of six children when questioned about his situation underground, responded by saying that every day when one is descending a shaft it brings the fear that one might not ascend alive.Oppenheimer’s family was party to the government that dispossessed African farmers of their land. They were party to the government that created a situation where Africans may own land in the Bantustans. Black property rights were destroyed and white privilege was entrenched. Sol Tshekiso Plaatje, a journalist, author and politicians, was a most remarkable man, one of the moving spirits behind the formation of the African National Congress (ANC), South African Native National Congress. Their aim was to establish a permanent black national political organisation.Plaatje and John Langalibalele Dube, the first president of the ANC, went to Britain to contest the passing of the Land Act. The British government’s response was negative.In Kliptown’s Freedom Square on June 25, 1955, thousands of people from various organisations in South Africa gathered to draw up the Freedom Charter as a blueprint for South Africa.On the land issue, the Charter declares that:”The land shall be shared among those who work it. Restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended and all the land redivided amongst those who work it, banish famine and land hunger, the state shall help the peasants to implement seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers, freedom of movement shall be guaranteed to all who work on the land, all shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose.”Yes, it is not yet Uhuru!