We, South African communists and progressives, are very pleased that the People's Publishing House has considered it of sufficient importance to come out with an Indian edition of Comrade Lerumo's book - History of the Communist Party of South Africa; Fifty Fighting Years - so as to place within reach of the wide reading public of the Indian subcontinent the story of the Communist Party of South Africa and its vanguard role in the bitter struggles of the oppressed South African working peoples against imperialism and racial oppression.
The book, I have no doubt, will be read with deep interest in India since the history and destiny of our two countries is closely interwoven. Both have for long been the victims of British imperialism, the consequences of which still have disastrous impact on our lives.
It was as a 'halfway house' to India that the Dutch first set up their settlement at the Cape of Good Hope, thus setting off the long and tragic sequence of aggression, conquest and dispossession which marked and still marks the entire history of Southern Africa.
All this is explained in the terse but factual outline contained in the opening chapter of this book.
And, of equal interest to the Indian readers will be the story of the hard and difficult struggles of the Indian people against the humiliation of racial discrimination and the denial of basic human rights ever since the year of 1860 when they were first brought to South Africa under the British raj to work as indentured labourers to satisfy the greed of the white sugar planters in Natal. It also deals with the birth of the South African Indian resistance movement under the leadership of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who originally came to South Africa as a little-known lawyer to handle a civil case and stayed on in the country for twenty years to guide and organise the Indian community against injustice. It was indeed in our country that Mahatmaji was to undergo his political baptism which led to such momentous consequences for the Indian subcontinent itself.
This volume deals with the formation of the Communist Party of South Africa in 1921, inspired by the great October revolution and the heroic deeds of the bolsheviks under the leadership of Lenin, and its subsequent development as a leading force of the working peoples in the bitter struggles against the restrictive racial laws which had deprived the African people of their land and turned them into a reservoir of cheap labour for the mines and the white man's farms; it deals with the inner-party struggle against the dogmatic, sectarian tendency in the twenties and early thirties which threatened the isolation of the Party from the masses of the people; and, it also deals with the work and activities of the South African Communist Party under conditions of illegality enforced by the fascist Nationalist regime.
In doing so, it also traces the parallel development of the national liberation movement, centred in the African National Congress, in which the South African Indian Congress played a notable and honourable part. It is clear too that the SACP itself was a vanguard pace-setter in the building of this united front of liberation.
My associations with Gandhiji, Jawaharlal Nehru, the present Prime Minister Shrimati Indira Gandhi and the leaders of various political parties, the trade union, student and youth movements clearly show the close concern which the people of India have in the outrageous doctrine and practices of apartheid and of their desire to help in every possible way the just struggle of the black people for freedom. This has been manifested time and again at the United Nations and in many Asian and Afro-Asian assemblies. We South Africans are deeply grateful for this interest and solidarity.
Yet it is plain that much still remains to be done. Despite every resolution of abhorrence for apartheid and every plea and demand from the world community, the fascist regime of Vorster has multiplied its repression and its crimes from year to year.
Only the united struggle of the South African masses, every form of mass action including armed conflict, will overthrow this hateful and anti-human regime of white domination.
But in that struggle our people need every bit of support from the working class, progressive and anti-imperialist forces throughout the world - for it is clear that the white fascist regimes of Pretoria, Salisbury and Lisbon enjoy the open and concealed backing of world imperialism.
If the widespread study of Lerumo's book in India serves to increase knowledge of African problems and thus increase support for and involvement in our fight for freedom it will have served a most worthy purpose.
Yusuf M. Dadoo
22 May 1972