i recently finished reading How Can Man Die Better by Benjamin Pogrund. my initial thoughts about the author of this biography were cursory simply because of the fact that he is a Jewish man. how could a Jewish man be the one to offer me the much desired story of the man himself, Mangaliso Sobukwe.
i’ve always known the name and imagined him as a periphery figure in the anti-apartheid movement. although well known, i couldn’t imagine that the man i knew so little about would be the one whose story was the most genuine and that of a true martyr. my knowledge of black consciousness through Bantu Biko introduced me the name of Sobukwe who was the leader of the Pan Africanist Congress, the political movement that drew the attention of the government, the world and the people.
described by those who knew him as a soft hearted, soft spoken kind spirited person, the character he showed during his time was morally unshakeable. through learning more about him, i have found another pillar of intellectual strength i can lean on when trying to substantiate my ideological stance.
the most ideologically solid leader of the apartheid era who was never shaken or moved from his political and ideological stance no matter the treatment he received, which is not as well documented as that of Mandela but considerably much more significant. Sobukwe was the most feared man by the government and their treatment of him was according. not for any violent threat but because of his aura, influence and impreganble ideological stance. a “Sobukwe Clause” was created by the then Minister of Justice was a way to suppress him. this clause entailed jailing Sobukwe for an unspecified length of time (which ultimately added up to 8 years) to keep his influence away from the Afrikans in Azania at the time who were inspired by him and his unwaivering spirit. on the crudely celebrated Robben Island as it is known by most people, he was kept in solitary confinement for his years spent there with a guard with a dog stationed at the house he was kept in which was away from the prison block where all the other prisoners were held.
his relationship with Pogrund was one of the facets of his life that amazed me too. a relationship described by the author as that of best friends. its ironic that the saving grace of a man who was most likely have died in prison due to his treatment by the government but for the care afforded to him by Pogrund, a white jewish man. his support for Sobukwe and his family is a testament to Sobukwe’s non racial ideology in practice. relationships can be formed in the oddest situations and turn out to be life saving which this did. the Sobukwe family will probably always be thankful for the help of Pogrund during the time of his relationship with Sobukwe and as a child of the soil too, so am i.
a well educated leader with the integrity required to influence people, Mangaliso R. Sobukwe the teacher was an enigma to the apartheid government and a martyr for the people of Azania and Afrika at large.
Nfr Sa Ma’at