Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Fri, 12.05.1924

Robert Sobukwe, Pan-African Activist born

Robert Sobukwe

*Robert Sobukwe was born on this date in 1924. He was a Black African administrative activist.

Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe was born in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape Province, the youngest child of Hubert and Angelina Sobukwe. His father worked as a general store clerk and part-time woodcutter; his Xhosa mother served as a domestic worker in white homes. He grew up poor and was educated at a local Methodist mission for primary school, and his secondary education was at the Healdtown Institute.

Sobukwe strongly believed in an Africanist future for South Africa and rejected working with anyone other than Africans. He defined African as anyone who lives in and pays his allegiance to Africa and is prepared to subject himself to African majority rule. He grew dissatisfied with the progress of the liberation struggle during the 1950s, in which the apartheid government continually introduced new means to suppress the liberation struggle.

Resonating with many members of the African National Congress (ANC), Sobukwe had become impatient with the ANC's inability to achieve results. He later left the ANC to form the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and was elected its first President in 1959. In March 1960, Sobukwe organized and launched a non-violent protest campaign against 'pass laws.' He was sentenced to three years in prison for incitement. In 1963, the enactment of the "Sobukwe Clause" allowed an indefinite renewal of his prison sentence, and Sobukwe was relocated to Robben Island for solitary confinement. At the end of his sixth year at Robben Island, he was released and placed under house arrest.

In early 1977, Sobukwe fell ill and applied for permission to receive medical treatment but was denied his request indefinitely until the intervention of his friend Benjamin Pogrund. In September 1977, Sobukwe traveled to Johannesburg, where he was diagnosed with lung cancer and transferred to a Cape Town hospital. Although the South African government granted Sobukwe access to treatment, they imposed strict conditions on his travel; Sobukwe had to report to a police station every time he left Kimberley or arrived at the hospital. He died from lung cancer on February 27, 1978. and was buried in Graaf-Reinet.

To Become a Political Scientist

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

1. A black woman speaks of white womanhood. What gives her the right? --slavery, lynching, etc have to do with white women. 2. Would like to speak of it as... A Black Woman Speaks by Beah Richards
Read More