From the book: Freedom In Our Life Time by Anton Muziwakhe Lembede

11. A. M. LEMBEDE, "Congress on the March," Bantu World, 9 September 1944.

The African National Congress is a fundamental feature of a stage in the evolutionary process of the African people ”” a stage when the Africans have become conscious of their glorious past, of their fierce present-day struggle for survival and of the great role they can play in, and the substantial contribution they can make to the progress of mankind in the future. This is the African Spirit ”” the spirit which is being interpreted and applied by the A.N.C.

It can be stated emphatically that the movement is all-inclusive and ail-embracing in its organisation. No question of national importance falls outside its precincts. Hence, the problems of African churches, trade unions, teachers, traders, industrialists, farmers and peasants represent merely certain aspects of our colonial national struggle which is one, single and indivisible. It is the great pride of the A.N.C. that it is purely African, and is self-reliant, and self propelling. To borrow a phrase, "We are paddling our own canoe."

In the past all those forces which endeavoured to demolish the movement dismally failed. But to-day the A.N.C. is facing a formidable alliance or combination of hostile African organisations which are supported or run by Europeans and which aim at destroying the A.N.C. and thus crush and shatter the very soul of the African people. The vain and furious attempt of these organisations is, however, foredoomed to failure. No realistic observer can, however, connive at or conceal some painful facts in the history of the A.N.C. There have been blunders both in policy and execution, there has been now and then a deplorable display of lack of energy and of systematic organisation, but the spirit which is to be interpreted by the A.N.C. is eternal and unchanged.

The progressive policy of the organisation is, to-day, patent to every one; the advancement of the anti-pass campaign;”Š23”‰the great financial response given by the Africans to the national sports day organised by Mr. R. G. Baloyi ”Š24”‰on the 6th August; the considerable rally of Africans of the Northern Transvaal to support the A.N.C. at a huge meeting addressed by Mr. C. S. Ramohanoe (President A.N.C. Transvaal) at Pietersburg a few weeks ago; the progress of Congress organisational work in the O.F.S. [Orange Free State] and the Cape; the seriousness with which the Natal Africans view and regard the state of Congress in that Province; the A.N.C. Youth League which is sounding a trumpet call to mobilise all the national youth forces are examples of the results achieved.

12. A.M. LEMBEDE, "African National Congress Steady and Satisfactory Progress," Um-Afrika, 16 December 1944.

Under the leadership of Mr. C. S. Ramohanoe the Transvaal Congress is energetically pursuing its expansion policy. It is not only gaining new ground but it is also winning the confidence of the masses; and strictly speaking, that is the acid test for any great movement.

Congress displayed some initiative in convening a special conference to protest against the banning of open-air meetings. This was on the 29th October 1944, in Johannesburg. The characteristic feature of this conference was its representative nature. New branches have been established at Nigel, Eastern Native Township and other places. The Congress is just now engaged in a grim battle against the increase of train fares and bus fares.

Recently the President Mr. Ramohanoe addressed a big meeting at "Tickey Line" Kempton Park Location, and in this meeting the grievances of the people were brought forward, discussed, formulated in writing and later submitted to the local Town Clerk; these included insufficience of water supply, lack of grave yard, the threatening danger of removal of the location; the existence or non existence of an advisory board. At present the Secretary Mr. D. W. Bopape is officially touring the Northern Districts of the Transvaal and preaching the Congress gospel.”Š25

One cannot, however, end the expression of appreciation without sounding a note of warning. There is a serious danger looming large on the horizon. Congress leaders must be cautious and under no circumstances allow the national movement to be committed into a battle ground of European ideologies, nor allow the national movement to be dragged into the clash or conflict of these foreign ideologies.

In the titanic war between Stalinites and Trotskyites, we Africanists must maintain an attitude of strict neutrality ”” of course armed neutrality. If we are overpowered by an insatiable lust or passion to indulge in "isms" we have our own "ism" ”” "Africanism."

The Congress Youth League is also making steady though unobtrusive progress."God bless Africa and her sons and daughters."

13. A. M. LEMBEDE, "Boycott Defended," Bantu World, 28 June 1947. 

In the last issue of the "Bantu World," Rev. H. G. Mpitso deprecated the Congress resolutions to boycott all elections under the Native Representation Act of 1936, and he unleashed an attack which cannot go unchallenged.”Š26

He states: "I am a staunch supporter of the African National Congress."

Yes, but in many national and provincial conferences of the A.N.C.and even in local branch meetings, the Rev. Gentleman is often conspicuous by his absence.

"Congress leaders should frankly admit that a large number of those who wield African votes are outside their pale and that they will vote inspite of its resolutions."

This is a prophetic vision. I thought it was only the Jewish race which excelled in producing prophets as the Bible shows. It appears, however, that the African race is a strong rival of the Jews in this type of day-dreaming about what will happen in future.

"The chiefs, the location advisory boards, the urban and rural electoral colleges owe no allegiance to Congress."

Congress wants no allegiance of government-created bodies. It addresses itself to the African people. It aims at the rally of the African people. If it succeeds in this, these government-created bodies will either disappear or fail to function. As for the chiefs they have no alternative but to support Congress as the recent Prime Minister's proposals will undermine their position, influence and prestige by granting extensive powers to the N.R.C to run the reserves.”Š27

Slogans rejected

"Our leaders should benefit by past failure to implement resolutions passed at mass meetings and adopt different tactics other than pious resolutions. What happened to the resolution passed last year for the burning of passes? Another resolution advised Africans to boycott the Royal visit.28Were these resolutions carried out?"

In effect the Rev. Gentleman disapproves and rejects the slogans fraught with human wisdom, slogans that have guided and sustained humanity through centuries and through storms and cyclones of life namely: ”” "If at first you don't succeed try again"”Š29”‰and "failures are often stepping stones to greater things."

Again he says we should adopt different tactics. What tactics? His statement is blank and negative.

Burning of passes

To refresh the Rev. Gentleman's memory, Congress never passed a resolution to burn passes last year. He is grossly confused.

This shows how isolated and aloof he is from National events; and how indifferent to and ill-informed about Congress activities he is inspite of his claim to be "a staunch Congress supporter."

Furthermore, the Rev. Gentleman would have us believe that because Congress failed to implement certain resolutions in the past therefore it cannot implement any in the future. What a sweeping assumption! Congress is not a stone. It is an organic thing. Like plants and animals, it must grow. Perhaps the Rev. Gentleman will follow me better if I refer to the Bible. St. Paul says: "When I was a child I spoke as a child, thought as a child, acted as a child, but now that I am a man I put away childish things."”Š30”‰It may be that Congress is now becoming a man, or reaching maturhba"