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Motlana describes tole of South African youth

Second in a two-part series on the opening address of the Institute Colloquium on Apartheid.

"It is the twelve to 30-year-olds that have taken over the leadership in the struggle for a just society throughout South Africa," said Nthato Motlana last week.

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Motlana, chairman of the Soweto Committee of Ten and the Soweto Civic Action Committee, opened MIT's Colloquium on Apartheid with his keynote address last week. "The Tutus, Motlanas and Mandelas have failed them completely," he said.

"When the ruling Nationalist Party came to power in 1948, one of their priorities was to get rid of a system of education that produced, in their language, `Black English Men,' " he said. Motlana described the system of education for blacks in South Africa as "education not to enlighten, but education for ignorance..."

"Police brutality has not succeeded in stopping the young from demonstrations, boycotts, burning and killing those they regard as collaborators," Motlana explained. "Their struggle against what they consider an inferior education system has spread to include socio-political issues like the franchise [to vote]."

The youth of South Africa has "declared war on community councillors, politicians, policemen and sadly -- lately even teachers," he said.

History of crisis

"What has suddenly brought on this crisis?" Motlana asked. "Have there been warnings?"

"It is instructive to trace the history of black resistance to white rule in South Africa," he said and cited the following events as landmarks in the history of black resistance in South Africa:

O+ The formation of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1913 was "the formation of the earliest `nationalist liberation movement' on the [African] continent." Although the black national movement began in South Africa, Motlana said South African blacks' political progression "has been in the opposite direction."

O+ The 1910 Constitution of the Union of South Africa provided for limited representation of blacks by whites in both the South African Senate and House of Assembly.

O+ The decrease in the "few rights that blacks enjoyed ... started with the Land Act of 1913, which arbitrarily divided South Africa into 87 percent for white occupation and 13 percent for black occupation," Motlana said.

The passage of the Land Act led to the formation of the ANC in 1913, according to Motlana. He added that the act led to the institution of the Bantu Homeland Citizenship Act in 1970 -- an act "which finally stripped all blacks of their citizenship and assigned them to the ten homelands on the basis of tribal origin."

Motlana also cited several recent incidents which have affected the attitudes of the black people of South Africa:

O+ The Republic of South Africa's new constitution, instituted in 1983, "established the bizarre three-chambered Parliament for whites, coloreds and Indians to the total exclusion of 73 percent of South Africa's population which is black."

O+ "The army has now replaced the police as a force of occupation. There is a state of emergency" in Soweto, Motlana's homeland, "and in several areas throughout the country," he said.

"The presence of the police force has worsened the conditions" in the homelands. "There are alleged reports of army misbehavior ... of killings which many of you have seen on your TV screens," Motlana added.

O+ "White South Africa is totally insulated and unaware of what is happening in the rest of South Africa that is not white," Motlana claimed. "They are protected by the state which controls the news media."

"How long can this

state of affairs last?"

"No one has been able to suggest an intelligent way out of this dilemma," Motlana observed. "But even a worm must turn," he said, "and the black African worm is beginning to turn -- violently."

"It seems, however, that there has been a qualitative difference in the way blacks are now carrying on with their struggle." Labor, housing, education and the quality of the environment have now become issues in that national struggle, according to Motlana.

"Up to 1976, I am convinced that white South Africa could have come up with an acceptable package that could have fooled blacks by providing them with limited participation" in their government, he continued. But, Motlana said, "in 1985, black South Africans will settle with no less than one man, one vote in a united South Africa."

One member of the audience asked if Afrikaners can successfully defend their homelands "to the last." Motlana responded that he didn't believe in a "scorched-earth policy" and that "Afrikaners must accept political change."

Black leaders in South Africa were "unhappy with black-on-black violence," he continued. "White racists have had to create structures ... interposed between white throats and black people. These people are in the way."

"In South Africa, there are two groups of blacks: the collaborators and non-collaborators," said Motlana. "The collaborators must be removed."

Handover of power

"There are black South Africans who argue that there is no need for negotiations," said Motlana. "The question is one of handing over power to the majority -- which should not necessarily be exclusively black."

Motlana said that the ANC is "not a racist orgnization [that] believes that South Africa belongs to all its people." He said that any government headed by the ANC would "include all elements of [South Africa's] multi-racial population."

He asked whether the South African revolution had started in earnest. "I'm not that hopeful that the apartheid regime is about to collapse. They still have the power ... because South Africa has powerful friends in the West that it supplies minerals to."

Motlana advocated a "one-party" government for the current South Africa. "At our present stage of development, a one-party state would be best [because] it seems that our people don't understand the role of an opposition party."

Effects of divestment

"You continue to trade to support a racist system in my country ... in order to suppress my people," he said. South Africa's "democratic" government "would not be able to kick down 25 million blacks if she did not enjoy the kind of support she has enjoyed over the years [from the West]", he added.

Motlana said that "divestment has not shown to lead to the liberalization of social policies" in South Africa. He did not advocate investment or divestment of holdings in South Africa, but recounted Chase Manhattan's attempts to collect on their outstanding loans to South Africa.

When Chase Manhattan's Chairman recently refused to "roll over South Africa bank loans," South Africa's economy appeared to collapse, according to Motlana. "I'm saying [Chase Chairman] Butcher showed what can be done."

Motlana said that he "knows things that can be done to bring the apartheid regime to its knees" and hopes that they will be accomplished. "Convince South Africa that the time to change is now," he said.

During the question and answer period, Arnold Contreras '83 said the students of MIT supported the struggle against apartheid. He said that he disagreed with the Institute's stance on apartheid and divestment and asked Motlana his opinion of the policy. "I also disagree with your president ...," Motlana said.