The hero who spurned the ANC and PAC

Although both the ANC and PAC made efforts to get Mashinini to join them, he is said to have rejected both organisations. The extracts that follow are from City Press, June 18, 1995, "Hero spurned ANC, PAC".

"He [Khotso Seathlolo] said both the ANC and PAC made efforts to get Mashinini to join them, but he spurned the idea.

"Seathlolo said Mashinini preferred to lead his own youthful revolutionaries.

'Tsietsi did not agree with the ANC and PAC or the pace of the struggle. Their view was that the time had not yet come for a full-scale war against the racist oligarchy.

"'But Tsietsi, for his part, believed it had already arrived.'

"Mashinini believed the PAC was unsuited for armed insurrection and the party was ideologically disorganized, Seathlolo said.

"Mashinini was against joining the ANC because he believed in the Black Consciousness maxim of black people being responsible for their own liberation, and that they should not align themselves with multiracial organisations.

"He was also anti-communist, although he was sympathetic towards socialism.

"'Any organisation that was overtly communist and associated with the then Soviet Union, which he regarded as a social imperialistic state, was anathema to him,' said Seathlolo.


What does he stand for?

Perphaps the most important feature of this document, which served as a briefing note for the ANC on Tsietsi Mashinini, is how the ANC saw Tsietsi: as a threatening counter-revolutionary who could undermine the organisation.

"The thesis of this paper is that in Mashinini counter-revolutionary forces have recognized an individual they can exploit for their own ends, to confuse supporters of the just struggle for liberation of the people of South Africa, and to weaken the African National Congress both internationally and amongst the recent escapees...

"As Mashinini has not hesitated to attack the ANC, he has laid himself open to being used by those who are, for one reason or another, hostile to the organization which expresses the true aspirations of the oppressed people of South Africa."

- From: "Who Is Tsietsi Mashinini, and What Does He Stand For?", undated, unsigned document from ANC. ANC Archives, University of Fort Hare, ANC-SMFC Collection, Box R3, Folder 89


Behind the growing upsurge

In this interview with Tsietsi Mashinini, he slams both the ANC and the PAC.

Q: Do you have any connections with the ANC or PAC?

TM: I will tell you something. The ANC and PAC played their part in the South Africa struggle in the 1950s and 1960s. Right now there are ex-members of the ANC in whole of South Africa. But they are not politically active, that is, have the concept of perpetuating the activity of the ANC or PAC political ideology. As far as the students in South Africa are concerned, the ANC and PAC are extinct internally. Externally we are aware they exist. Internally they are doing no work. There may be some underground work which we are not aware of, but as far as the struggle is concerned they are not doing anything.

Q: Do you think there is a different political outlook between the old movements, the ANC and PAC, and the Black Consciousness Movement?

TM: Yes there is. There were a number of clashes between ANC and BCM leaders, because the ANC leaders did not want to recognize the BCM as a liberation movement.

Q: Why didn't they want to recognize BCM?

TM: They do not want to understand why BCM was formed when ANC was the liberation movement. But ANC was banned inside the country, so a new liberation front had to come.

- "Behind the Growing Upsurge in South Africa: Interview with Tsietsi Mashinini", Intercontinental Press, 15 November and 14 March 1977. ANC Archives, University of Fort Hare, ANC-SMFC Collection, Box R3, Folder 89

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"I, Tsietsi Mashinini, appeal to students to report back to school."
Tsietsi Mashinini, 1976
Picture © British Thames Television


In this lesson plan, learners are asked to think about how the different people in their lives would describe them. They are asked to reflect if they think that their caregiver or teacher would say the same things about them as their best friend. They will apply their insights on differing perspectives to historical sources such as newspapers and letters.

Lesson plan
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Archive Photo Gallery
Images from the short life of Tsietsi Mashinini.
Artwork Photo Gallery
Five views of the Tsietsi Mashinini memorial
The concept for the memorial
Johannes Phokela discusses the development of his concept for the memorial to Tsietsi Mashinini
Take a 360º tour of Mashinini's memorial opposite his former high school on Mputhi Street, Soweto.
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