Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Remembering Robert Sobukwe

Today marks 30 years since the passing of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, the founder and first president of the Pan Africanist Congress.

I was just 13 years old in 1978 but I understood that a giant in the struggle against apartheid was gone.

Sobukwe was a close family friend in the years he spent under house arrest in Kimberley. My father devoted much of his time to driving Sobukwe anywhere he needed to go.

And my mother often sewed his clothes between meals at our kitchen table.

My memories of the man are many. I have written here about his influence on my life, my career choice, and my politics.

One of my most enduring memories is of Prof, as he was affectionately known, playing ball with the kids in our street.

The kids loved Prof. And he loved them.

I once heard my mother tell him that he should do this and that when he became president of free Azania (South Africa). He just laughed and said that he did not want to be president.

"I want to return to the classroom," he said.

Those words stuck with me. I have come to understand the power of the classroom. It is a place where minds are made to reason and think critically.

Prof in these terms was the greatest of teachers. And he continues to teach even as we struggle through these post-apartheid years.

I miss the man I called Uncle Robert for all of my childhood.

May he be recognized for the intellectual giant he was, and may God rest his soul!


Erica C. said...

Beautiful tribute Ridwan. Reminds me of someone that I know.

Ridwan said...

Thank you kindly Erica.

I spent some time thinking about Prof today. I remembered his laugh and his humanity.

I am heartened to see the younger generation learn about Sobukwe.

His contribution and memory have been hidden, purposely I think.

He spoke of a country and a politics much greater than the neo-liberal drivel that stands today.

Like Malcolm X, Sobukwe will come to live again in the movement(s) that must undo this era of sell-out politics.

Peace to you,

Desirée said...

That's amazing your family was so close to Sobukwe! He's always been my favourite S. African figure, truly.

Thanks for sharing your memories of such an amazing person.

And I agree, reminds me of someone I know...

Shush li said...

Thank you for educating me about your Uncle Robert, Ridwan. He was truly amazing, and you were blessed to have known him so personally.

I hope you are well.

Ridwan said...

Thanks for your very kind comment Desiree.

I appreciate your words. We must talk about Sobukwe when we next meet :0)

Peace to you,

Ridwan said...

Shush li thanks for your comment.

I expect that you are very busy in this time of change for you.

I wish you well sista. I am doing good here in South Africa.

Peace and blessings,

Dade said...

A touching tribute! What an inspiring figure. I'm sure your Uncle Robert is very proud of you, Ridwan.

Ridwan said...

Thank you kindly my brother.

I was just reading your post with pictures of your family, the Metzgers and Cariagas.

I also remember you talking about your dad (Ross) and his passing in another post a long while ago.

Memories are important brother, as important as life itself.

I feel privileged to read you here and on your blog.

Peace Dade!


(If any readers have not dialed up Dade's blog, please do so, it is a premium read.)