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Text Box: Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe
1924-1978
 
Text Box: Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe (5 December 1924 ; 27 February 1978) was a South African political dissident, who founded the Pan Africanist Congress in opposition to the Apartheid regime. In 2004 he was voted 42nd in the SABC3's Great South Africans. [edit]
Early years
Sobukwe was born in Graaff-Reinet in the Cape Province on the 5 December 1924. He came from a poor household and was educated locally. He attended a Methodist college at Healdtown and later Fort Hare University where he joined the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in 1948. [edit]
Mainstream politics
In 1952 Sobukwe supported the Defiance Campaign. He identified with the Africanists within the ANC and in 1957 left the ANC to become Editor of The Africanist newspaper in Johannesburg. He was a strong believer in an Africanist future for South Africa and rejected any model suggesting working with anyone other than blacks in RSA. He later left the ANC and formed the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), where he was elected its first President in 1959.
Robert Sobukwe became known as the Professor to his close compatriots and followers. This was witness to his educational achievements and powers of speech. He spoke of the need for black South Africans to "liberate themselves" without the help of non-blacks. His strong conviction and active resistance inspired generations of South Africans, and also inspired many organizations involved in the anti-apartheid movement, notably the Black Consciousness Movement. [edit]
Internment
On 21 March 1960, Sobukwe led a march to the local police station at Orlando, South Africa in order to openly defy the Pass Law. He was joined on route by a few followers and, after presenting his pass to a police officer, he purposely made himself guilty under the terms of the Pass Law for being present in a region/area other than that allowed in his papers. As a result, Sobukwe and most of those present were arrested. He was sentenced to three years and after serving his sentence was immediately captured and re-imprisoned, this time on Robben Island. Sobukwe was held without trial under the terms of the General Law Amendment Act for a further six years. His charge was incitement, and this procedure became known as the "Sobukwe clause". [edit]
Robben Island imprisonment
Sobukwe was kept in solitary confinement but permitted certain privileges including books, newspapers, civilian clothes, bread etc. He lived in a separate area on the Island where he had no contact with other prisoners. The only contacts were his secret hand signals whilst outside for exercise. Despite this he succeeded in giving his approval to the external PAC to adopt a Maoist political program. He studied during this time and received among others a degree in economics from the University of London.
It is speculated that the South African administration had profiled Robert Sobukwe as a more radical and difficult opponent than the regular ANC prisoners. [edit]
Kimberley: internal exile
Sobukwe was released in 1969. He was allowed to live in Kimberley with his family but remained under house arrest. Kimberley was suggested as an area where he could not easily foster subversive activities and also a place where he could live and work, whilst being easily monitored by the state. He was also restricted due to a banning order, which disallowed political activities.
Various restrictions barred Sobukwe from travelling overseas, thus curtailing his attempts at furthering his education. For this same reason he had to turn down several positions as a teacher at various locations in the United States.
Robert Sobukwe finished his Law degree with the help of a local lawyer, in Galeshewe. On completion he then started his own practice in 1975 in Kimberley. [edit]
Illness and death
Due to lung cancer, he was hospitalised in 1977. His doctors requested that the authorities allow him freedom of movement on humanitarian grounds. This request was refused. He died on 27 February 1978, and buried in Graaf-Reinet on 11 March 1978. [edit]
External links
Robert Sobukwe - Leader of the Africanist

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