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David Sibeko, 1969
*David Sibeko was born on this date in 1938. He was a Black South African writer and activist.
David Bambatha Maphgumzana Sibeko was from Johannesburg, South Africa, and began his political career as a journalist for the black South African Magazine Drum. During his tenure with that magazine, he became a leading figure within the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (South Africa).
Unfortunately, Sibeko's contribution to the liberation struggle in South Africa is little known. Some would argue that his influence was pervasive and on par with that of Nelson Mandela. Sibeko adroitly used his position as the head of the PAC Observer Mission at the United Nations to unite diverse sectors of the international black community behind the PAC. Thus he counted among his personal friends and supporters personages as varied as Andrew Young, Stokely Carmichael, Julius Nyerere, Louis Farrakhan, and the heads of state of countries such as Haiti (pre-Aristide), Libya, Egypt, future Zimbabwe, Ghana, Guinea, and many more that comprised the Organization of African Unity.
A sharp thinker and, above all, an eminently practical, big-hearted man with an easy laugh, he could be seen coaxing support from a U.S. State Department official one minute, gathering support from the communist Chinese the next, and persuading the Soviet representatives to assist the PAC in some small matter or another after that. One could easily find the same ANC officials that would detract him and the PAC during the day, drinking, eating (he would personally cook for his guests), and laughing at his apartment on West End Avenue in New York City that same evening. Had he remained as a highly effective diplomat as a counterbalance to the revolutionary activities of the younger generation, the PAC would have continued as a serious rival to the ANC.
During the 1970s, he headed the United Nations Observer Mission of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in New York City. He used this position to popularize the PAC, particularly among African Americans. He was known as the "Malcolm X of South Africa." In 1979 Sibeko was partially successful in a leadership coup against Potlako Leballo. However, he failed to get support from the Second Azanian People's Liberation Army, was recruited from the 1976 student protest generation, and was shot dead during an argument with them at his flat in Oyster Bay, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on June 12, 1979.