From apartheid to Black Consciousness: the programs that gave

Dossier 44, from the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research, will be released this Tuesday (14), which will bring a compilation of projects started in 1972, in South Africa, and which served to structure the philosophy of black consciousness, which it intended to create a support network for the black population to access work and income.

In the Dossier, readers will learn about the programs, which ranged from the creation of publications and research, health centers, factories to employ the economically marginalized, and a fund to meet the basic needs of those leaving the penal system.

These programs came to be thought of during two episodes that had marked the mid-20th century in South Africa, the Campaign to Resist the Pass and the Shaperville Massacre.

The Pass Law, which was the target of the campaign, emerged in 1945 and required the black population to always circulate with a government document that determined how far citizens could go, where they could work, their profession and also age and ethnicity. It was the state with absolute control over black bodies.

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The Shaperville Massacre took place 15 years later, on March 21, 1960, in the province of Shaperville. When blacks marched and protested against the Pass Law, white South African police opened fire on the crowd of unarmed protesters. Sixty-nine people were killed and 180 were injured.

From that day onwards, repression against the black population increased, militants and leaders were arrested and opposition parties made illegal. Even so, the youth struggled and tried to fill the political vacuum created by the banning of two important political parties that personified the aspirations of the masses. This movement gave rise to the South African Student Organization (Saso).

Since then, programs aimed at the self-sufficiency of blacks began to appear, as a way of cooperating for the emancipation of this population.

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The Black Community Programs (BCP) was founded in response to the need to address community well-being. BCP’s underlying message was that a community cannot be self-sufficient unless it is aware of and proud of its identity and dignity.

These experiments were closed by the apartheid regime in October 1977. In October of the same year, the Black Consciousness Movement and all its affiliates were banned by the PN government. Yet, in the years that followed, the Black Consciousness Movement continued to inform and inspire resistance movements in South Africa.

The Black Community Program succeeded in promoting a legacy of community development for political transformation that continues to inspire activists today. The ideas developed and taken up in this five-year fermentation period (from 1972 until the ban in October 1977) have also had an influence in contemporary South Africa.

In the early 1970s, Freirian ideas about praxis moved from the environment of black consciousness to the union movement and then to the community struggles of the 1980s. They remain present in current forms of organization and popular struggle. A high price was paid for this period of political creativity. But its role in South African history must be studied, recorded and remembered.

tricontinental

The Tricontinental Institute for Social Research is an international institution, guided by popular movements, focused on stimulating intellectual debate to serve the aspirations of the people. We seek to produce knowledge about political economy, as well as the social hierarchy, with the aim of facilitating the work of popular movements and engaging in the “battle of ideas” to fight the bourgeois ideology that has swept intellectual institutions from academia to media.

Edition: Anelize Moreira

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