Saturday, April 02, 2016

Use the Power

On 30 March 1960, Philip Kgosana led a march of 30 000 people on Parliament in protest against the pass laws. He was arrested and jailed and later went into exile. For Kgosana, the protest against the pass laws was the "entry" point to a bigger struggle, a struggle "to change the lives of African people" He was to be in exile for 36 years, 22 of them spent working for the United Nations, in Africa and Asia. When he retired at 60, he returned home to the Winterveld, north of Pretoria only to find that "in 36 years, nothing had changed. The problems of our people were still the same."

He is critical of those in authority who "blame apartheid" for South Africa's problems after 22 years. "Why blame apartheid? You have been in charge. There is a misuse of power for the accumulation of wealth," he said. "If you get to power and you use it to make yourself rich, you are not doing your job. You are fooling us."

"Political power is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end, a tool to achieve social and economic freedom. Our people want food, and schools, and houses. What are all these squatter camps? There is not one city in South Africa which doesn't have this other city, this shack city, full of water and dead dogs. And these are growing. If there are children sleeping on the floor and studying under a tree, and you have power, you aren't using that power."

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