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

36. "MR. LEMBEDE`S RECEPTION," INkundlu ya Bantu, August (Second Fortnight, 1946).

A GOOD and representative crowd attended the reception to celebrate the academic achievement of Mr. A. M. Lembede M.A., LL.B at the B.M.S.C. on Friday 26th July 1946. The "function" was organised by the African National Congress Youth League of which Mr. Lembede is a President. Dr. J. M. Nhlapo”Š63”‰was in the chair, and Dr. A. B. Xuma,”Š64”‰Mr. W. F. Nkomo, B.Sc. (a medical student) and Mr. A. P. Mda paid tribute to Mr. Lembede in eloquent speeches which were loudly cheered.

Opening the reception Dr. Nhlapo who now and then regaled the house from his inexhaustible fund of humour paid a powerful and flowing tribute to Mr. Lembede's exceptional and unprecedented achievement.

Mr. A. P. Mda said that Mr. Lembede had scored success in the realm of philosophy which curiously enough had been considered a special preserve for the whites. His success was a clarion call to the rising generation to rise and fight for freedom for a people that can produce the Lembedes is a people worthy of the rich heritage of freedom. He then solemnly advised Mr. Lembede to remain humble in success and not to lose the "common touch."

Dr. A. B. Xuma has a knack of saying wise things on occasions like these. He was in his best element. He said that many of us engage in idle criticism and thus become blind to see the greater things of life. "Many of us look for green pastures elsewhere" and fail to see the possibilities of progress at the tips of our very toes. He then related Booker T. Washington's famous story, ending in the well-known "Cast the bucket where you are!"”Š65”‰Opportunity had to be seized by the fore lock, he said, and it was gratifying to note that Mr. Lembede had learnt this fact not theoretically but in practice. The rise of Mr. Lembede should be an inspiration to all; by his rise he had established a milestone in our history. "We must learn to worship achievement and above all to emulate achievement" he concluded. He then shook hands with Mr. Lembede amid cheers.

In paying tribute to Mr. Lembede, Mr. W. Nkomo said that Lembede had risen from humble beginnings to M.A. Already he had distinguished himself as a lawyer, and as one who was prepared to serve his people. He said that Lembede's proficiency in languages like Afrikaans was an example and an inspiration to Transvaal youth.

Mr. A. M. Lembede replied in a memorable speech. He took the Platonic view for his definition of philosophy, and said that the function of a philosopher was to be a spectator for "all time and existence." Philosophy, he said, sees the Universe as a whole. He also showed that philosophy was practical or at least that some of its conclusions could be translated into practice. Hegel taught that the spirit was superior to matter and he developed his theory of dialectics. Karl Marx inverted this and said that matter was superior to the spirit, that is to say, he took a materialistic view. But Karl Marx retained the dialectical theory of Hegel. Marxism is the dominant outlook of Soviet Russia. Mr. Lembede said that Nazi philosophy was based on "Darwinism" i.e. survival of the "fittest" while the utilitarian outlook dominated British thinking for a number of decades. He also brought in the American system of thought based on pragmatism.

When he climbed down from these heights to a discourse on African Nationalism he made a deep impression on the house. Nationalism, he said, was a new conception, a new bond which should bind the tribes into a single whole. Mr. Lembede rejected internationalism as a stage before nationalism. A truly international society is not possible whilst the overwhelming majority of the peoples of the earth are backward. He summarily dismissed the claims of pseudo internationalist propagandists.

Mr. Lembede also made it clear that African Nationalism is not in substance against other Non-European groups. African Nationalism is definitely against foreign domination of any description and from whatever quarter it comes. It visualises the rise and emergence of Black Africa as a world power. It believes in the leadership of Africa by Africans and rejects white leadership.

Mr. Lembede was given a great ovation.

Apologies were received from Mrs. Madie Hall Xuma,”Š66”‰Rev. H. Mpitso, Mr. J. B. Marks, Mr. T. Ntwasa 67(a Johannesburg Attorney) and from Dr. P. ka I. Seme.”Š68”‰Music was rendered by the "Manhattan Stars" and the "Philharmonic Choral Society," whilst the Merry Blackbirds Orchestra played for the dance.

A Marathon Debate. One of the biggest and most fiercelycontested debates ever held in Johannesburg, was staged at the Bantu Men's Social Centre'”Š69”‰early in August. The B.M.S.C. represented by Messrs. A. M. Lembede, V. V. T Mbobo”Š70”‰and A. P. Mda, was ranged against Port Elizabeth represented by O. G. Socenywa, B. G. Ximya, and W. F. Hermans, and the topic was: "Resolved, that Communism is better than Democracy." We took the negative and Port Elizabeth took the affirmative. Mr. Socenywa, ably supported by the other speakers put up the case in support of the Soviet system of "collective farming," planned Socialist economy and the elimination (liquidation) of exploitation of "man by man," unemployment and social insecurity. When Mr. Socenywa (P. E.) stood up to summarise the case for Port Elizabeth, he broke out into passionate outbursts of gripping oratory, in the course of which he brought down the packed hall, whilst administering savage punishment on his opponents.

Mr. Lembede and Mr. Mbobo, on our side, were concerned with the presentation of facts in favour of British and American democracy. Mr. Lembede was cheered again and again, when he argued that under democracy there was the "rule of law," and the recognition of the dignity of human personality, and that political power was enthroned in the enfranchised masses of the people. He was forcefully and eloquently supported by Mr. V. V. T Mbobo, B.A., B. Econ., who approached the subject from the economic standpoint. The "offensive" was reserved for Mr. A. P. Mda, who had to demolish the opposition's defences. With devastating logic and seething satire, Mr. A. P. Mda rained blow upon blow upon the opposition. He vehemently denounced Soviet Russia as a vast bureaucracy with supreme and unlimited power vested in the 13 members of the "politburo," and exposed the vaunted "dictatorship of the proletariat" as the dictatorship of the Communist Party, with the General Secretary of the Supreme Soviet as the virtual tyrant, bully and despot. He denounced the State Capitalism practised in Russia, and said that a state where there is no technique of change except by bloody revolution cannot, in the long run, be a guarantor of individual freedom, development and self-expression. Messrs. James Mdatyulwa”Š71”‰and R. Peteni,”Š72”‰B.A., gave a reasoned judgment, awarding 251 points to the B.M.S.C. as against 221 to the Port Elizabeth Club. Thus Johannesburg upheld its reputation by giving the Cape a trouncing. The standard of the debate was very high. Port Elizabeth put up a "terrific" fight.

A big reception in Honour of Lembede. During the third week of July, the "Congress Youth League," organised a well-patronised and well-attended reception in honour of A. M. Lembede, Esq., M.A. LL.B., at the B.M.S.C. Very able and instructive speeches were delivered on the occasion by Dr. J. M. Nhlapho [sic], B.A., Ph.D., who presided; Dr. A. B. Xuma, President General of Congress; W. F. Nkomo, B.A., B.Sc, a medical student, and Mr. A. P. Mda who spoke on behalf of the "National Executive of Youth League." Music was rendered by the "Manhattan Stars" and the "Orlando Philharmonic Choir"; the "Merry Black Birds Band" played for the ball.

Mr. A. M. Lembede is now a fully-fledged lawyer. He is in partnership with Dr. P. I. Seme, who has however moved to Edendale in the Pietermaritzburg district. Mr. A. M. Lembede's office is at Nos. 2-3 Rosenburg Arcade, 58 Market Street, Johannesburg.

38. A. M. LEMBEDE, Book Review of Nje-Nempela by B. Wallet Vilakazi, Teachers' Quarterly Review, I, 2. (September1946),8-1.

Our checkered South African History furnishes a novelist with ample and abundant material for a novel. This exquisite material has not ”” I regret to say ”” been fully exploited by our Bantu writers; of course some writers have availed themselves of this material for various purposes, as witness, Dlomo's [sic] "U Dingane," Mofolo's "Chaka," Dube's "U Jeqe," etc.”Š73

The above mentioned book by Mr. Vilakazi”Š74”‰is a historical novel. The events take place in and about 1906 in Natal; that was during Bambatha's bloody rebellion 75against the Natal Government on the ground of the imposing of poll tax on Africans in Natal.

A kraal youth, Malambule, left his home at Inkandhla near Tugela River and went to work in the Gold Mines of Barberton (Transvaal) where he came into contact with a new mode of life ”” European civilisation with its attendant moral dissoluteness and corruption ”” which was entirely different from kraal life. After working there for several years he decided to return to his father's kraal. The journey of several days was accomplished on foot. On a certain day at sunset, while he was on his way home, Malambule called on a kraal near the way at a place called Dumbe and asked for accomodation for the night. This kraal belonged to one Nomona Nkominophondo, and Malambule was cordially welcomed there. Here he met one of the daughters of Nkominophondo (who was a polygamist). Her name was Nomcebo. At first sight she inwardly fell in love with Malambule but when he later made formal advances she proudly and defiantly replied, "WENA UNGUBANI ”” NJE ”” NEMPELA"; "What are you at all?" Hence the title of this book. Having fallen sick, the hero of the story was nursed for several days by the mother of Nomcebo. Among those Malambule met at this kraal were Zazini, brother to Nomcebo, and a certain Maphulane, sort of a clown, skilled in magic and drugs (reminding us of Shakespearean clowns). Having proposed to Nomcebo with partial success and having given a fine shawl to her mother as a token of gratitude, Malambule departed and continued his long tedious journey homewards. Before leaving, however, he informed Maphulane that he would return one day to fetch Nomcebo and marry her.

The country was in a turbulent state. Bambatha had refused to pay poll tax and defied the Government at Greytown. Many Chiefs staunchly supported him but there were also many Quislings. One Chakiyane was leader of a terrorist organisation whose aim was to exterminate all quislings ruthlessly, and thus facilitate the mobilization of all warriors against the white government and assure victory in battle without danger of being stabbed in the back.

When Malambule reached home he immediately sent a group of young men including his brothers, to go and fetch Nomcebo, who, unknown to Malambule (with Bembesile, her jealous half-sister) had already been coerced to go and marry the son of a certain Chief Sishlshili. When they reached the kraal of Nkominophondo, these envoys of Malambule were informed of this terrible news. They decided to trace Nomcebo and abduct her. Maphulane accompanied them. They succeeded in abducting Nomcebo at midnight. Shortly after this, the Chief's kraal was suddenly and unexpectedly stormed by the terrorist group ”” for Chief Sishishili was suspected of being a quisling ”” and the inmates of the kraal together with visitors, in the midst of their wedding festivities were practically wiped out with a ruthless iron hand. Nomcebo escaped, joined Malambule's messengers and proceeded with them to the home of her lover.

In the meantime Malambule had been recruited into the black army but when he was sent by his Commandant to accompany a band of warriors whose task it was to rob and plunder a certain shop and kill the owner (at Mpanza), he deserted and went over to the white men at Greytown where he was employed as a wagon driver.

The zero hour struck. White met Black in battle. The blacks were unable to hold their own in face of superior arms and weapons. Bambatha was killed. Dinizulu was suspected of conspiracy partly on the grounds of some secret information treacherously given to Europeans at Greytown by Bambatha's wife. He was arrested and brought to trial as an accomplice and instigator. Malambule attended the trial and gave evidence ”” to confirm his own father's evidence ”” for the crown. Dinizulu was found guilty.

Thereafter Malambule and his father returned home where Nomcebo was already waiting. Malambule's happiness at seeing her was boundless. His cup of joy overflowed. Nomcebo too was full of mirth to see her lover and prospective husband; but on that very day Malambule's father died. After the funeral Malambule feared that since he was a traitor, people might make an attempt on his life, so he took Nomcebo and fled to the white man's land, accompanied by Maphulane and others. Here the story ends.

The time and circumstances which form the background of this story are excellent and judiciously selected by the Author.

The mastery and manipulation of language leaves very little to be desired. The prose style is simple, straightforward, descriptive and narrative. It is rather heavy and solid although here and there it rises to some lyrical heights; e.g. Page 14; "Waphuma uMalambule wayibuka lenyanga, phansi kwayo kude, empumalanga wabona iziqongo zoBombo, zithe thushu, thushu thushu ziphakeme phezulu ezulwini," ["Malambule went outside, he looked at the moon, and way below it on the eastern horizon, he saw the crest of the mountain range rising up to the sky above."] ”” and (Page 113) ”” "Izulu phandhle lalisile lilihle izinkanyezi zonke zichithekile emkhathini wezulu ziqhweba okuemhlabeni ngokucwazimula kwazo." ["The sky outside was clear, the stars were scattered across the entire sky, beckoning the earth with their luster."] 

The writer has at his disposal a tremendous wealth of descriptive verbs such as chwabaza, nqekulisana, gswaneka, qundeka, vaveka, xobisa etc., and such descriptive words as jeqe! yatho! zu! etc. His language is also enriched and embellished by the use of proverbs ”” e.g. "Induku enhle egawula ezizweni" ["a beautiful stick (kierie) is cut from trees from afar."]; "Indoda kayifeli ecansini, ifela ezibini" ["a man does not die on his sleeping mat but wherever he falls."] etc.

By the dexterous employment of Zulu war songs, and the praises, (izibongo) of the warriors and heroes the writer attempts to describe and portray historical events and circumstances, and thus re-create the atmosphere of the times; also the dialogue form of conversation heightens the realistic setting thereof.

The writer succeeds in captivating the interest of the reader and in keeping his sense of expectation in suspense till the end. The writer also fairly well demonstrates the inevitable clash of cultures ”” namely, the primitive Bantu and the advanced European.

There are however, some weaknesses in the story. Firstly, the writer often fails to give a full and satisfactory description. Some events and episodes are dismissed with a few words or cursorily dealt with. In this way the background of the story suffers and consequently the story itself, for the story should be cast in a clear relief of its background ”” e.g., the formalities of "ukucela intombi"”Š76”‰when Sishishili's men come to "cela" Nomcebo and Bembesile; formalities and details of a typical Zulu wedding, at Sishishili's kraal, ”” the vivid picture of the great battle between Bambatha's forces and the European soldiers, ”” proper and realistic description of the trial of Chief Dinizulu at Greytown, death of Malambuie's father, etc. An historical novel should, in my opinion, give us an insight into, or knowledge of, the social practises, institutions and conditions of the times. The impression I have is that the story was pieced together rather too quickly. I say this on the authority of some European Novels I have read ”” e.g., Thackeray's "Vanity Fair," and several Afrikaans Novels such as "Die Vreemdeling," "Die Hugenotebloed," etc."”Š77

Again, the writer selects for his hero, or one of the heroes of his book, a traitor, a quisling ”” Malambule ”” a man who deserts his own people at a critical moment when they are facing a formidably powerful enemy; and who at the Court Trial, gives evidence against his own Paramount Chief Dinizulu. It is quite true there might have been such cowardly characters, but to my mind, it is highly undesirable to give them publicity or emphasis. This may sew [sic] the seed of a defeatist mentality or an inferiority complex in the minds of our children. As Plato says in the "Republic" ”” "in training youth, we should never tell them of the disgraceful and dishonourable deeds of their ancestors." So likewise, we should not tell our children that we were routed, humiliated and cowed by white people, we should merely tell them that in the face of superior forces and weapons, we were compelled to lay down arms ”” but our National Spirit (s invincible, unconquerable, and hence we shall relentlessly continue the fierce struggle by acquiring and using the new weapons of Western Culture and Civilisation.

However the stress laid on the writer's failure to disapprove strongly of and condemn the scandalous act of Bambatha's wife who treacherously divulged ”” although of course, with a quasi-innocent intention of exonerating her husband ”” some facts which led to the arrest of Chief Dinizulu in connection with the rebellion, is deplorable. As a rule, our African women are of a noble and heroic mould, and that is what should be stressed. One also wonders how a girl of such noble and sterling character as Nomcebo was, could willingly and gladly marry Malambule, a National traitor, and without "lobolo" at that. The motto of a National hero should be "My people, right or wrong."

The book also contains some self-contradiction; while in the introduction the writer tells us that he is setting out to show the bravery, courage and heroism of our ancestors, the story tends to prove the diametric opposite.

In conclusion, coming now to the assessment of the literary merits and value of the writer's present work, I hold that the writer did not top or exceed the highest notch ”” though the material at his disposal and the plan and conception of the present work allowed it ”” which he registered with his previous novel, ”” NOMA NINI.”Š78

39. A. M. LEMBEDE, "An African Academy of Sciences," Inkundla ya Bantu, August 1947

IN A SUB- EDITORIAL of the "INKUNDLA" of a few weeks ago the Editor pleaded very strongly for the formation of some academy for the advancement of Bantu Art and Literature.

This grand suggestion ought to receive a country-wide approval and support and it should be translated into action without any further waste of time.

Almost all civilised or progressive nations have such academies. Even in our country such organisations exist amongst the whites e.g. Die Skrywerkring, Die Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, The Society for the Advancement of Science etc.”Š79”‰The phenomenal growth of the Afrikaans language and literature can, to a very great extent be ascribed to the "akademie." Systematisation of organisation is the basis of progress in all spheres of life.

We need science to assist us in our present stage of transition and we shall need it more increasingly thereafter. To the question: What knowledge is of most value ”” the uniform reply is: science. We need science in our agriculture, our diet, our homes, for our health, in the upbringing of our children, in the organisation of our economic enterprises and in all departments of our material struggle and existence. It is science that will help us to adapt ourselves to the Western standards of life and to dispel the fogs of ignorance and superstition. Why can't we establish a society for the advancement of science amon[g]st Africans, to propagate simply scientific knowledge preferably in vernacular, amongst the African masses? Where are our B.Sc's? Where are our laymen interested in science and the problems of science?

Our Art (including literature) can also receive a great impetus and fillip, from a cultural society or academy of art. Artists in different categories of art such as sculpture, painting, drawing, music, literature would tremendously be encouraged by exchange of ideas amongst themselves and competition for annual prizes. Art is indispensable to a nation in the process of being born. We need artists to interpret to us and to the world our glorious past, our misery, suffering and tribulation of the present time, our hopes, aspirations and our divine destiny and our great future; to inspire us with the message that there is hope for our race and that we ought therefore to draw plans and lay foundations for a longer future than we can imagine by struggling for national freedom so as to save our race from imminent extinction or extermination. In short we need African Artists to interpret the spirit of Africa.

I am here confining myself to the utilttariari or pragmatic value of science and art. Space will not allow me to deal with the study of science or art for its own sake.

Now the question is how to proceed in order to found such an academy. I do not think we should start with a big conference at Bloemfontein as the editor of the Inkundla suggests. In my opinion a few protagonists of this project should meet say, in Durban to form a small nucleus committee to draw a comprehensive plan or manifesto, embodying both science and art which will be the basis of the objectives, scope of activities, programme and policy, of the academy. It will then be the primary duty of this committee to propagate and disseminate these things and contact all African scientists and artists as well as laymen, who are interested in science or are lovers of art ”” appealing to them to join or support the proposed academy. The committee must also find funds in order to organise and direct this large scale propaganda. Thereafter a national conference can be convened. To my mind, this conference should mark the end of the first phase of the whole project and at the same time the beginning of the second phase ”” namely the consolidation of the academy and extension of its work to the general masses, for, the principal and ultimate aim of the academy should be to educate the masses in the practical application of science and the spiritually elevating appreciation of art.

40. A. M. LEMBEDE, "Congratulations to the Child ”” 8 Years Old," Inkundla ya Bantu, 17 May 1945.

"The whole technique of propaganda has undergone revolutionary changes in recent years with the remarkable progress of its main agencies ”” the press, the films and broadcasting. The increase of education has played into the hands of propaganda; and political changes have widened the field for experiment." ”” A.J. Mackenzie {Propaganda Boom).”Š80

When the Editor of the "Inkundla ya Bantu" approached and re- quested me to say something on the occasion of the celebration of the 8th birthday of the "Inkundla ya Bantu,"”Š81”‰I felt myself unequal to the task, but we may never say "no" to the call to serve the National cause.

The value of the press in educating and enlightening the masses, in shaping and moulding public opinion, cannot be overestimated. According to Dicey (Law of the Constitution),”Š82”‰the freedom of the press (which is part of freedom of speech and discussion) is so important that in several states of Europe it is specifically safeguarded in the constitutions of those states.

Although Hitler says that great historical movements have owed their success to the spoken word, yet no one can doubt the historical role played by such books as the Bible, the Koran, Plato's "Republic," the "Wealth of Nations," "Origin of Species," "Das Kapital," etc. and by such newspapers as "Pravda," "Volkischer Beobachter," "London Times," etc., and by numerous periodicals.

In South Africa, and as far as Africans are concerned, the Press is confronted with two formidable difficulties. Firstly, the immense illiteracy of the African masses. It is said that only about 20 per cent can read and write. Secondly, even among those few literate and educated. there prevails that apathy or lack of that craving or desire for reading which Afrikaners call "lecalus" [leeslus]. Very few Africans care to read their newspapers intelligently.

Evidently the preliminary task of the African Press is twofold: (a) to agitate for the spread of general education among the masses; (b) to write and publish such interesting articles as will awaken and sharpen the appetite for reading among the masses. A newspaper that will strive for this will be rendering an immortal service to our race. The "Inkundla ya Bantu" has undoubtedly embarked on this gigantic campaign. If space allowed me I could quote copiously from several issues of the "Inkundla ya Bantu."

Last year also ”” if I may remind the reader ”” the "Inkundla ya Bantu" contributed substantially towards combating and stamping out the discussion or petty quarrel or vendetta between the then existing two Congress factions in Natal.”Š83

"Inkundla ya Bantu" is a purely African paper ”” established by Africans, run by Africans and for Africans. It is a living tribute to the organising administrative, journalistic and editorial genius of the African race.

May the "Inkundla ya Bantu" continue ”” without swerving or wavering ”” in building the African nation and helping the nation tomarch triumphantly forward and occupy its rightful and honourable place among the nations of the world.

In conclusion may I again express my felicitation to the "Inkundla ya Bantu" on its 8th birthday with the wish and hope that the "Inkundla ya Bantu" may soon become a weekly paper or even a daily.”Š84”‰If not, why not?