The importance of the 1946 Passive resistance struggle which later transformed to the 1952 Defiance campaigns, the 1955 Congress of the People resulting in the birth of the Freedom Charter, the 1956 Women’s march against the pass laws and 1976 youth uprising against bantu education, is the affirmation of the power of nonviolent mass action.
What a magical mix of historic moments. The month of June indeed has great significance for us in South Africa.
On the 26 June 1946 the first batch of men and women defied the pegging act and pitched their tents on what was to be a land for whites only. They spent days on this patch now called the Resistance Park, defying the law. They were harassed and threatened but they refused to move until they were arrested. In this Park the history of their struggle has been immortalised in a monument.
The significance of this struggle is that it marks the beginning of a new era in our country. The beginning of moving from petitioning for favours to actively defying the injustices of the apartheid system. These pioneers of the struggle started a movement that led to the 1952 mass defiance of apartheid laws, the Alexandra bus boycott, the potato boycott, the mass student movement, the massive action against the various apartheid dispensations including the Homeland system and the Tricameral parliament. These campaigns and many mass actions led to a South Africa where we all have the same constitutional rights and where we are all able to access all public facilities. Yes the economic differentials continue to make it impossible for some to access facilities that can be bought by others.
Significantly also is the 26 June 1955 Kliptown Conference where the Freedom Charter was drawn up. The Clauses of the charter are important indicators for us to work towards a change where all South Africans can experience true quality freedom. A society typified not by an absence of laws but by the presence of responsible actions by all.
In 1955 the people did not ask for mansions and Estates, they asked for a home. They did not ask for 5 star hotels but they asked to have proper health care. They did not ask for massive schools but for liberating education from a dedicated educator. They did not ask for food but asked for a livelihood. They did not expect to be abused and maimed, they asked for security. They did not ask for huge expensive theatre companies, they asked for a chance to express their inherent talents. They asked to live in peace and friendship with all without any boundaries. That is the ideal that they charted in 1955.
On 16 June 1976, the youth of our country started a revolution seeking the right to free equal and liberating education. A Charter was drawn up by the Education Crisis Committee setting charting a path towards quality education for all.
Yes the month of June is significant because it gave us a clear direction and a mandate to pursue the ideals documented in the various charters. So we together with our leaders need to now move from time to eat to time to do!