Social Protest Lit.: Nelson Mandela, South African President, etc.

An excerpt from the 1961 statement “The Struggle is My Life” by Nelson Mandela . Mandela was a South African apartheid foe sentenced to life in prison in 1964 and not released until 1990. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected president of South Africa in 1994, 1918-2013.

1990 South Africa
1990 South Africa

This piece is an excerpt is from Book V called “Revolt.” This chapter pertains to “The struggle to abolish injustice; the battle cries of the new army which is gathering for the deliverance of humanity.”

Those who are voteless cannot be expected to continue paying taxes to a government which is not responsible to them. People who live in poverty and starvation cannot be expected to pay exorbitant house rents to the government and local authorities. We furnish the sinews of agriculture and industry. We produce the work of the gold mines, the diamonds and the coal, of the farms and industry, in return for miserable wages. Why should we continue enriching those who steal the products of our sweat and blood? Those who exploit us and refuse us the right to organise trade unions? Those who side with the government when we stage peaceful demonstrations to assert our claims and aspirations? How can Africans serve on School Boards and Committees which are part of Bantu Education, a sinister scheme of the Nationalist government to deprive the African people of real education in return for tribal education? Can Africans be expected to be content with serving Advisory Boards and Bantu Authorities when the demand all over the continent of Africa is for national independence and self-government? Is it not an affront to the African people that the government should now seek to extend Bantu Authorities to the cities, when people in the rural areas have refused to accept the same system and fought against it tooth and nail? Why should we continue carrying these badges of slavery? Non-collaboration is a dynamic weapon. We must refuse. We must use it to send this government to its grave. It must be used vigorously and without delay. The entire resources of the Black people must be mobilised to withdraw all co-operation with the Nationalist government. Various forms of industrial and economic action will be employed to undermine the already tottering economy of the country. We will call upon international bodies to expel South Africa and upon nations of the world to sever economic and diplomatic relations with the country.