Racism, tollerance

Ron Press anclondon at gn.apc.org
Sun Mar 19 00:11:50 MST 1995


Racism and socialism.

One of my first experiences was when I went to the ANC offices in
Johannesburg in the spring of 1954. I had offered to take an
activist to Alexandra township. "I Was to take Shadrack Rapodile"
"Who? I said" " Listen comrade if you are going to help you just
have the learn our names" It was a rebuke.

Well I was taken aback and fortunately humble. I did not react but
learnt how to speak the African names.

I was white (I still am).

Later I learnt that Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, and others had
in the 1940's been members of the ANC Youth League and had
organised to throw the general secretary of the Communist Party,
Moses Kotane off the speakers platform. He was a Communist they
were nationalists.  They were all black.

In 1980 having lunch in the hotel in Dar-Es-Salaam, the treasurer
of the South African Congress of Trade Unions, called me a racist
because I had said he should be based in Africa and not in the UK.
If this happened he would be separated from his wife. He was black
I was white his wife was white. ( well I learnt later that it was
not really his wife and that he had a first wife in South Africa
from which he was separated by exile.).

The treasurers remarks came as quite a shock. There were this time
some sharp words. After all we were both long in the struggle. We
had both been to jail a few times. We were both against racism. We
were both on the SACTU NEC. Well it blew over. We have since then
worked together for nearly two decades. We still have our
differences but never on the question of race.

The struggle thought all of us: Moses Kotane, Nelson Mandela, O.
R. Tambo, me and my treasurer and the people in general. When you
are fighting a vicious enemy there is need for tolerance and
comradeship. There is need for discussion and understanding.
Suspicion, anti-communism, raw nationalism, racism, all are there
to be understood, to be tamed. Do not lock them in the cupboard
and hope they will disappear. They will merely emerge invigorated.
They thrive far from the light of day. The history of the USSR has
proved this. "Stalin solved the National Problem." he did not. He
merely allowed it to grow in the dark corners of the soviet soil.
The return to the market economy has  given it the light of
publicity and revealed it's value to those who use it as a syringe
to suck the lifeblood of the poor.

We all seek understanding and knowledge. Even more we seek a
better life for all not the few.  We, all of us, are imperfect and
our knowledge and understanding incomplete. But together we know
more and are stronger than separate. I read all the contributions
on the list. I disagree with some, I do not understand others.
Some time I will disappear but I hope that someone somewhere will
be a better fighter for the retched of the earth as a result of my
being there at sometime.

Ron.  An  inflatable Guru.

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