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Nathi Mthethwa unveils exhibition of anti-apartheid icon Robert Sobukwe

Minister Nathi Mthethwa cuts a ribbon to officially open the Robert Sobukwe exhibition at the Kgosi-Mampuru II Correctional Facility. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Minister Nathi Mthethwa cuts a ribbon to officially open the Robert Sobukwe exhibition at the Kgosi-Mampuru II Correctional Facility. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Published Mar 7, 2022

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Pretoria - The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has officially unveiled the exhibition of an anti-apartheid icon schooled in the mass democratic movement, Professor Robert Sobukwe at the Kgosi-Mampuru II Correctional Facility.

The unveiling which was initially meant to take place last week, as the department started its activities in commemorating Human Rights Month, had to be postponed as minister Nathi Mthethwa indicated that they wanted to ensure Sobukwe's founding party the Pan African Congress was present for the momentous occasion.

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Speaking at the official opening of the exhibition at the correctional facility today Mthethwa said Sobukwe was a large figure in the nation's history, as he remained committed to the total emancipation of the oppressed on many fronts.

Mthethwa recalled how Sobukwe's commitment to the emancipation of others had even led him to lead a branch in the ANC as a lecturer in African Studies at Wits University alongside his role as president of the Pan Africanist Congress.

The entrance to the Robert Sobukwe exhibition at the Kgosi-Mampuru II Correctional Facility. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

"He is a global statesman, a Pan-Africanist par excellence, a defender of fundamental human rights, a scholar and public intellectual, just like Nelson Mandela his life story transcends party politics."

"As we memorialise his legacy, as we pay tribute to him, we must do so mindful of the many facets of his life."

Mthethwa said taking Sobukwe's story in the context of the current environment he doubted that the struggle icon would be happy with the lack of unity amongst Africans and the prevailing scourge of gender-based violence and femicide in the country.

"I can say it without any fear of contradiction and without equivocation that professor Sobukwe would have implored us to set this country on a path towards moral regeneration and would have supported our efforts towards social cohesion and the nation-building project."

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Dedanizizwe Ludumo Sobukwe, the son of the struggle icon said he was pleased that the ruling party had chosen to commemorate his father after all this time and not focus solely on the contributions of their own compatriots.

He added that the main thing he remembered most about his father was that he always urged him to prioritise his education no matter what.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa chats to Robert Sobukwe's son Dedanizizwe Sobukwe. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Letlape Mphahlele a former PAC president said as much as the party appreciated the initiative to commemorate its leader they were concerned about history being decontextualised from the party's role.

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"We appreciate the commemoration, but it's decontextualising of history to talk about human rights and remove Sharpeville because it is very important and we must know that the struggle was first and foremost for land."

"When people marched they said izwe lethu iAfrica they didn't say amalungelo wethu so yes we are glad but let's put history in its proper context."

Pretoria News

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