MMC Nonhlanhla Sifumba. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency/ANA.

PORT ELIZABETH - The Worker’s Museum will host an exhibition, “Azikhwelwa” or “We won’t ride”, to honour the people who participated in the Putco Bus boycott in the 1950s during the struggle against the oppressive apartheid state, the City of Johannesburg said in a statement on Friday. 

The Putco Bus boycott in 1957 was a response to the sudden price fare increase of 25% along the Alexandra route, as well as increases on other routes such as Sophiatown-Western Native Township route and the Pretoria routes. 

The people of Alexandra elected to walk the long distances to and from work every day. On average a worker walked about 32 kilometres a day, five days a week and sometimes six. 

The boycott lasted for seven months and is considered the most successful boycott in the history of Alexandra Township, marking too the resilience and determination of the workers who defied the oppressive apartheid state and their fatigue to show their resistance.

“Following the wrap-up of Transport Month, it is important that we take time to reflect as a nation about how far we have come, and about how those who came before us sacrificed and suffered so that we can have access to spaces that were previously only reserved for the white minority," Nonhlanhla Sifumba, member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for community development said. 

"We often enjoy, without thinking, the conveniences - to move around so easily and freely, anywhere we like. 

"But, a price was paid, and through this exhibition, we pay tribute to those who protested,” Sifumba said. 

The exhibition will open on Saturday at 10am, and will run until 27 January 2019. 

It will also showcase the history of Alexandra Township, established in 1912, a year before the Union of South Africa passed the 1913 Native Land Act that restricted land ownership of the majority of black people in South Africa.

Alexandra was one of the few urban areas where blacks could own land under freehold title but it was not included as part of the Johannesburg City Council municipality and had no basic services such as sanitation.

The township grew  as jobs opportunities burgeoned in a growing economy and created a demand for the cheap, mainly unskilled black labour migrant workers from the bantustans and from other African countries could provide. 

"Azikhwelwa had an adverse political and economic impact on the Apartheid government and the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce. 

"The exhibition allows us to revisit our collective past so that we can collectively work towards meaningful redress in our city,"  Sifumba said.

African News Agency (ANA)