About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Freedom Fighter No. 4

"No Easy Walk to Freedom"

"You can see there is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountain tops of our desires.  Dangers and difficulties have not deterred us in the past, they will not frighten us now.  But we must be prepared for them like men who mean business and who do  not waste energy in vain talk and idle action…."

These words were spoken by the leader of the South African people, Nelson Mandela, more than ten years ago, in 1952.  Events since then have proved how hard is the road to freedom.

But Mandela said at the time, "the grave plight of the people compels them to resist to the death the policies of the gangsters that rule our country."

Since these words were spoken, the road to freedom has become even harder.  We do not think it will get easier.  We do not think it is a short road.  We do not think leaders should fool the people by telling them every day that freedom is just around the corner.

Our battle is going to be tremendously hard and may still be very long.  Only one thing is certain:L that this battle will continue, sometimes weaker, sometimes stronger, but never ceasing, until we win.

We are up against a heavily-armed State backed by the most advanced and modern industries.  South Africa's freedom struggle cannot be compared with that of any other African country, except in some ways with that of Algeria.  The State has not only put itself on a war-time footing, spending ever-increasing millions on the most modern weapons of war, but it is also arming and training every White man, woman and child who is reactionary enough, stupid enough or terrified enough to support White supremacy.  They have built up the Security Police – the hated Special Branch – to great strength, and given them complete powers to ban, deport, terrorise, arrest without charge, torture and even drive to insanity and to death, those who oppose apartheid and those who refuse to become their tools and agents.

JOHN MOLEFE – A TRIBUTE

John Molefe died as he lived, a revolutionary. At 63, the former chairman of the Phomelong Branch of the ANC died in March after being sentenced to 18 months jail for breaking a cruel banning order.

He was a founder of the Furniture Workers' Union, and was employed at a factory in Croesus, Johannesburg.  His five-year ban forbade him to work in factories.  John Molefe did not realize this.  He was arrested when he reported for work.

Mr. Molefe, a father of seven, was arrested after leading the 1946 miners' strike.  He was charged with treason in 1956.  He was arrested in the 1960 Emergency and he was held for seven weeks under the "90-day" law last winter.

John Molefe was an untiring worker for freedom.  So is his wife, Selina, who was banned for five years this May.  At his funeral, at Uncle Tom's Hall, Orlando West, mourners burst out weeping when the congregation sang "Li hambile iqawe la maqawe" – "He is departed, the hero of heroes".

John Molefe, we shall remember you.  We, the living, shall carry on the fight'

These facts make it necessary for the people to prepare the overthrow of this tyranny as a serious, planned struggle.  It requires people trained in every possible skill.  In political skills: in working with courage but with caution; in bringing more and more people into organized struggle but in uncovering police agents and spies; in dropping the weak, and those without sufficient courage to withstand imprisonment and torture.  In military skills: We will have no more Sharpevilles; we cannot allow our people and our women and children as well to face the military might of the police and army unarmed and helpless.  In underground skills:  in learning to hide political workers, to disguise people, to counteract electronic listening devices, and in counter-espionage against the Special Branch.

We start with a great, an overwhelming advantage.  Most of the people of South Africa oppose apartheid, White supremacy and the oppression is has brought.  And outside South Africa we have the whole world on our side.  Not only in the African continent but everywhere, people support and are ready to help our freedom struggle.

/continued on Page Four/

Page Two

ANGOLA'S WAR OF FREEDOM

Portuguese colonialism in Angola is dying.  After three years of guerilla fighting there are 20,000 freedom fighters of the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) who control 30,000 square miles in the north-west up against the Congo border, all in all about 6 per cent of Angola.

Three years ago, in March 1961, the African people revolted in the slave labour coffee plantations of the north after rioting and savage police repression in Inanda.  The rising spread through the north like a bush fire.  It was badly organized, but the Portuguese were taken completely by surprise.

Gangs of Whites roamed townships and villages killing any Africans they could get hold of, bombers from NATO set fire to innocent villages, thousands were sent to concentration camps.  The Portuguese army, now 40,000 men, began what they described as "mopping-up job".

Three years later, the Portuguese army is only safe up north in the towns.  Armed with modern automatic rifles, mortars, bazookas and land mines, the FLNA launched a massive new drive last December which brought them within 50 miles of Luanda.  Despite the Portuguese and their NATO allies the revolution is stronger than ever.

Soon the heroic Angolans will be fighting with up-to-date weapons from People's China.  "While paying lip service to self-determination," says the FLNA's leader Holden Roberts, "the United States supplies its North Atlantic Treaty ally, Portugal, with arms that are used to kill us".  Last month, Roberts made a move to make his movement truly national when he admitted the capitalist leader Da Cruz into the Liberation Front.

Nobody expects the war to be won easily.  But Portugal is spending R70 million each year in Angola without the slightest success.  Dictator President Antonio Salazar is a fragile old man of 74, and when he dies his empire will soon fall apart.

"The war here is like Algeria", says one Angolan field commander.  "We can't beat the Portuguese in the field, but we can wear them down until the politicians are ready to talk."

This is a war of the will.  It took the Algerians seven years before the French gave in.  We are just as determined.

A MESSAGE TO ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS IN SOUTH AFRICA

We publish here a New Year message sent from President Ben Bella of Algeria and 14 others to all political prisoners in South Africa.  Try to get this message in to your relatives and friends in Vorster's jails.

"We who sign this letter have ourselves been political prisoners.  Some of us have faced torture, both mental and physical, as some of you face it now.  Others of us have experienced only the humiliation of imprisonment.  All of us, however, respect your great courage in defending what you believe to be right and declare our earnest conviction born of our own experience, that your refusal to submit to racial tyranny today must contribute to the freedom of all men tomorrow.

"While we celebrate a new year which sees you imprisoned, facing trials, interrogation and torture, we solemnly pledge ourselves to do all in our power to help set you free in 1964."

The message is signed by: President Ben Bella of Algeria (imprisoned by the French during the liberation struggle); Arthur Koestler (imprisoned by the Nazis during the Spanish Civil War of 1936); Martin Niemoller (persecuted by the Nazis); Earl Russell, O.M., F.R.S. (prisoner of conscience); Michael Tippett (imprisoned during the last war as a conscientious objector); Dalton Trumbe (one of the "Hollywood Ten" imprisoned under the McCarthy laws); and nine men imprisoned in France in various prisons for aiding the Algerian Nationalists – Etienne Mathiet (Pastour at Arcueil), Robert Davizies, (priest), Bernard Bourdouresques (priest), France Birnard, Henri Curiel, Johan de Wangen, Diago Masson, Jean-Claude Baupert, Gerard Meier.

How the Revolution is Waged

Bases are set up in the liberated territory.  Each has a thatched hut office, a parade ground camouflaged by shady trees, several barracks, supply sheds and also a medical dispensary.

There are ranks in the army, but there are no insignia to show who is a private and who is a commander.  Everybody knows.  All soldiers are equals, and call each other "comrade".  Not even commanders have special privileges.

All soldiers are volunteers, mainly recruited from the 300,000 refugees who have fled across the 10,000 mile border to the Congo.  Nobody is paid.  All soldiers swear to fight until freedom.

About half the FLNA's 20,000 soldiers have received basic military training in the Congo at Camp Kinkuzu.  The other half – the Jeunesse (Youth) – carry supplies to the fighters.  When there are enough arms, they also will be trained.  About 2,200 soldiers are trained at camp Kinkuzu every eight weeks.

/Continued on Page Three/

Page Three

P R O T E C T O R A T E S

The three British Protectorates of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland are becoming more and more important in the struggle to liberate Africa from colonialism.  The three territories, encircled by the last strongholds of wit baasskap – South Africa, Southern Rhodesia and Portuguese-occupied Angola and Mocambique – are struggling towards freedom.

South Africa threatens to take over the Protectorates and carries out acts of individual aggression like the Genyile and Abrahams kidnappings.  People from the Protectorates are endorsed out by the apartheid authorities, and political refugees in the territories are harassed by the White supporters of Verwoerd.

BECHUANALAND – POPULATION ABOUT 360,000, 98% Africans.  Mainly a cattle-raising country, 90% of population engaged in stock-raising.  There is considerable mineral wealth in Bechuanaland, but very little has been exploited and that little has not benefited the people of the country.  20% of the men folk are always away working in South African mines, to bring home enough money to pay for the necessities of life, including taxes.  The Legislative Council is undemocratic, with a heavy representation for the tiny White minority and tribal authorities.  The economy is completely dominated by South Africa.  This is the result of 75 years of British "protection".

LESOTHO (Basutoland) – 800,000 people.  Completely surrounded by South Africa.  More than half the territory is unsuitable for agriculture.  At least 43% of the adult males at any one time are absent, working in South Africa.  There are reported to be rich deposits of diamonds, and already the Oppenheimer mining interests are scheming to lay hands on them.

SWAZILAND  - the smallest of the territories, with a population of 265,000, about 96% African and Coloured.  With its lush climate and fertile soil, and considerable mineral wealth, Swaziland is the richest of the three territories.  Main industries are asbestos and timber, with sugar, cattle and cotton being the main agricultural products.  The industries are owned and operated by White

ANOTHER GREAT ESCAPE

Southern Rhodesian "partnership" was always just another fancy word for White Baasskap.  Since the Rhodesia Front Party became the Government in 1962, especially since Ian Smith became Prime Minister, Southern Rhodesia has been becoming more and more like South Africa every day.

There is vicious police repression, but there is also heroism from the people.  In April Southern Rhodesia had its own Great Escape.

One the same day, two freedom fighters escaped from jail after being arrested for sabotage.

Police and police dogs combed the Bindura district while air force helicopters searched for 28-year-old Felix Godfrey Rice, who escaped from Bindura prison by rushing two warders as they opened the prison door.  He ran off into the bush.

Felix Rice had been charged under the "hanging clause" for two Salisbury bombings.  The prosecutor said he had been trained in Russia and China.

Another political prisoner, Dickson Velapi, escaped from Harari Hospital where he had been sick.  He had been arrested for having explosives.

After the cry had gone out, Velapi was sold by a tribesman called Joseph Narufu when he asked for food and help at Chanakira village.  Headman Chanakira then marched him at gun-point to the police.

Freedom fighters throughout Africa are proud of the boldness of Felix Rice and Dickson Valapi.

Capitalists, nearly all of them South African citizens.  The ten thousand Whites own approximately 45% of Swaziland, and there are many White South African absentee owners.  Over the heads of the Swazi people, the rich deposits of iron ore are being sold to Japan, and Oppenheimer is planning to secure large parts of Swaziland's mineral wealth.  When 1,400 workers at the Havelock asbestos mine went out on strike for £1 a day, the British sent in troops which suppressed the strike.

Under the leadership of the Bechuanaland People's Party, the Basutoland Congress Party, the Communist Party of Lesotho and the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress, the people of the Protectorates determined to win their independence.

The people of Bechuanaland, Lesotho and Swaziland are going to make their countries free and independent in the midst of the last strongholds of White fascism.  In doing so, they are being true to themselves, and true to their oppressed brothers in South Africa.

ANGOLA'S WAR OF FREEDOM – Continued from Page Two

The Angolan Revolutionary Government in Exile (GRAE) has pledged "unlimited support" for the struggle in South Africa, South West and Southern Rhodesia.  More than 50 ANC and PAC refugees have already been trained at Camp Kinkuzu, and are now fighting shoulder to shoulder in Angola.  They will return.

Page Four

RIVONIA TRIAL HAS BECOME OUR VICTORY

The trial of the nine men who were arrested last July at Rivonia was the peak of the Government's assault on the people's liberation struggle.

They planned to make the trial a means of justifying all their oppressive laws and all their police-state rule.  They thought the trial would terrify Whites and send them all scurrying for the safety of the laager; and that it would frighten non-Whites into miserable silence.

They believed that in other countries people would be brought to more sympathy with the apartheid State, and become hostile to the man who planned its overthrow.

EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE HAS HAPPENED.  THE RIVONIA TRIAL HAS BECOME A TRIUMPH FOR THE LIVERATION STRUGGLE.  IT HAS HEARTENED AND INSPIRED THE PEOPLE.  IT HAS EXPOSED AND WEAKENED THE WHITE APARTHEID STATE.

The accused men have become the accusers.  Their statements from the dock, their courage, their firmness and intelligence under State cross-examination, and their clear explanation of what they did and why they did it, has sent a thrill of excitement throughout South Africa.

Nelson Mandela's speech has already been read by millions.  Apart from the press summaries in South Africa, large portions have appeared in papers overseas;  in the English "Observer", in the American "New York Times"; and in many countries of Europe, Asia and the African continent.  It has been translated into French, Dutch, Russian, Italian and many other languages.

Nelson Mandela was unanimously elected President of the 4,000 strong Students' Union of University College, London.  And he has also been elected an honorary vice-president of the National Association of Labour Students' Organisations at their national conference held in England recently.

In court the prosecution look like very small men, little puppets, angry and shrill, trying to trip the Rivonia accused, trying to upset their ideas.  The Rivonia accused stand head and shoulders above their accusers.

Whatever sentence is imposed on the Rivonia men, their trial has inspired us to work harder and organize stronger for the day of freedom.  We swear we will win their liberation from the misery of jails, and install them in their true place – as leaders of our nation.

LONG LIVE THE RIVONIA ACCUSED!  LONG LIVE THE ANC!   LONG LIVE THE PEOPLES JUST STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM!

"NO EASY WALK TO FREEDOM" – Continued from Page One.

The people of Algeria fought an armed struggle for seven long years.  Then they won.  Let us prepare for our own long fight.  One thing is absolutely certain – that we WILL win freedom for South Africans, and in our lifetime.  As Mandela said in the same speech quoted on Page 1, "To overthrow oppression has been sanctioned by humanity and is the highest aspiration of every free man."

Without illusions, without false hopes of a quick victory, but with true courage and unlimited confidence, let us prepare ourselves for the triumph of justice and freedom in our land.

IMPERIALIST AGGRESSION IN YEMEN

British imperialism has been broken in most of the world, but it hangs on in the Middle East.  Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas Home (who told Nigerians "We do not know the meaning of the word neo-colonialism") ordered jet bombers to attack a small fort in Republican Yemen, which has freed itself from the clutches of imperialism and reactionaries.  Britain has forced several countries in the Middle East  to join together in the South Arabian Federation, so that reactionary states along the Trucial Coast (just off the horn of Africa) can dominate the freedom movement in Aden, where Britain has a huge military base.  Patriotic Arab tribesmen called the Red Wolves of Radfan, are waging guerilla war against the British oppressors, and beheaded two British officers whom they captured.  Egypt has appealed to Africa and Asia to help Arab countries in "chasing British imperialism from Southern Arabia".  Imperialism is a threat to all the world.  In the Middle East, the Red Wolves' struggle is our struggle, and our struggle is theirs.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.