SAFE AND SOUND in the FEDTRAW pre-schools


Busy bees at the FEDTRAW pre-school in Dube, Soweto

The Federation of Transvaal Women (FEDTRAW) has started over forty pre-schools for little children in the Transvaal. Learn and Teach spoke to some of the women who run the pre-schools…

EVERY DAY, millions of South African parents go out to work. But who takes care of the young children they leave behind?

Some parents ask the grannie or a childminder to look after their little ones. Others — the unlucky ones — have no-one to leave their children with. They are forced to leave their children all alone.

And that is when accidents can happen. Children play in the streets and get run over. They go near water and drown. They play in old, rusty cars and get hurt.

For these children, the world is a dangerous place.

One progressive organisation, the Federation of Transvaal Women (FEDTRAW), is trying to solve the problem of children who have no place to go while their parents are out earning money. Since 1986, they have been running pre-schools in the Transvaal for children who are not old enough to go to primary school.

The pre-schools are warm friendly places where little ones play together safely. And the moms and the dads can have peace of mind while they are at work because they know that their children are safe and sound.


Mali Fakier is the co-ordinator of the pre-schools project. She told us some of the reasons why these schools started.

“The main reason was to give our children a safe place to go during the day,” she said. “But we were also concerned about the education of our children.

“You know the saying ‘you are never too old to learn.’ Well, we believe that you are also never too young to learn! You see, the first years in a child’s life are a very important time. This is when children are growing in mind and body. They ask lots of questions and want to know about everything. If the parents are not there to answer the questions, then pre-schools are the next best thing.

“But only a handful of our children have the chance to attend a pre-school. Out of five and a half million black children under the age of six, only 110 000 are at pre-school.”

Ma Mali explained that the government has not built many pre-schools for black children. For example, there are only six DET pre-schools in the whole of Soweto and these are very full. Parents put their names on the waiting list and wait for years. Ma Mali says that she knows many parents whose names are still on the waiting list, even though their children are now in primary school!

Most of the pre-schools in the township are private. But many working mothers cannot pay the fees for private pre- schools. Sometimes the fees are as much as R160 a month. “Because of apartheid, our women are paid peanuts,” says Ma Mali. “They earn so little because of the colour of their skin and because they did not get a good education.

“At the FEDTRAW pre-schools, we only charge R20 a month. And we also take children whose parents cannot afford to pay.”

Ma Mali told us with pride that FEDTRAW has started over forty pre-schools in Soweto, Eldorado Park, Noordgesig and Evaton as well as in Tafelkop in Lebowa. They now have requests from people in Pretoria and other areas around Johannesburg to help start pre-schools there.


Learn and Teach went along to visit one of the pre-schools in Rockville, Soweto. The school is in a big hall at the South African Legion and Social Club.

When we arrived, we found about 150 children in the hall. They were sitting at little tables on brightly coloured chairs. The children were listening to a story that a teacher, Thandi Buthelezi, was telling them.

When the children saw us, they started laughing and clapping their hands. “Woza! Woza!” they called, inviting us to come in. You could see that these children were not shy with strangers!

Thandi explained to us that it is very important to give our children confidence. Many DET schools, she said, did everything to break a child’s confidence. Children at these schools are afraid to ask questions. They are made to listen to everything in silence.


FEDTRAW teachers, Ma Elizabeth Mpotulo, Ma Dinah Nkomo and Ma Winnie Mazibuko talk to Saul Molobi of Learn and Teach

At the FEDTRAW pre-schools, the teachers want the children to ask questions. “We want them to leave here with their thinking sharpened,” said Thandi. “And you know, the school principals are now telling parents to bring their children here because they do much better in their exams.”

Thandi then took out some toys to give to the children. These were not just any toys — they are special toys that help children to develop their minds. For example, there were jigsaw puzzles and building blocks. “We struggle for money,” said Thandi, “and the teachers get very low salaries. But we only give our children the best toys. We believe that toys help children to learn.

“We teach our children to work together from the very beginning. Our games are not competitive. We do not want to develop the spirit of competition among our children. And that is how education must be.” Are the FEDTRAW methods working?

“Yes!” said Thandi. “Our children treat each other as equals. When they play they share everything and they treat each other with respect.”


We asked Thandi how one teacher can look after so many children. “Oh no!” she laughed. “There are more than seven teachers here. In fact, we try to have one teacher for every 15 children. In that way, we can give each child the attention he or she needs.”

Just then, we were joined by two other teachers, Ma Winnie Mazibuko and Ma Dinah Nkomo. They had been in the kitchen making lunch for the children. It smelled delicious and our stomachs began making funny little noises.

We asked the two teachers about how they were trained. Ma Winnie explained that many of the teachers do not have matric or even Standard Eight. “But this is not important,” she said. “It is more important that our women feel that they can help build a new South Africa by doing something for their communities.”

All the pre-school teachers are given a three-month course in Early Learning at Funda Centre in Soweto. The course is run by Ma Mali, who was a primary school teacher for many years. Afterwards, the teachers go on follow- up courses which are also run by Ma Mali.

“The course was hard work,” remembers Ma Dinah with a smile. “But it was also a lot of fun. We were in an ‘each one, teach one’ situation. We encouraged each other to write non-sexist and non-racist literature. We workshopped songs and short stories and by the end of it, we had written a book called ‘Our Mama’.

“The book is full of stories and poems by the FEDTRAW women. One poem starts: “Apartheid is a rotten tomato. Freedom is a sweet potato.”

The stories try to explain to the children about apartheid. Ma Winnie explains: “As mothers we did not know how to tell our children about apartheid. And our children were always asking questions. How do you tell your little girl that she can’t go to the beach because it is for whites only? In the book, we tried to think of ways of talking to our children about these problems.”


Not everything is plain sailing at the pre-schools. There are some difficulties. “One of the problems is getting fathers to come to meetings,” said Ma Winnie. “Many fathers think that children are women’s business. We are trying to show the fathers that having a child is both parents’ responsibility.

“Another problem is that we are harassed by the health authorities. Not all the pre-schools are held in halls. In some communities, the councillors refuse to give us halls. So we have to hold them in people’s houses.

“This means that there are a lot of children in one house and the health authorities complain. But we ask them: “How can you say it’s okay to have ten people living in one house, but it’s not okay for us to look after children in our own homes? At least in our pre-schools they are safe.”

The pre-schools have also been harassed by the Security Branch. They said the teachers were teaching the children politics. It is only in the last few months that these visits have stopped.

While we were talking, a little child in brown trousers arid a woolen cap came up to us. He was wearing boots with pictures of clouds and rainbows on them.


It’s playtime! A FEDTRAW teacher leads the children outside for fun and games

“What’s your name?” we asked him. He said his name was Xolani Vilakazi.
“Do you like this school?” we asked.
“Yes! I love it here,” he said, clapping his hands.
“How old are you?”
He scratched his head and lifted five fingers, counting one by one: “One, two, three, four and five… I am five years old!”
We all laughed. It was good to see such a happy child.

It was getting late. The big brothers and sisters were arriving to fetch their younger ones. It was time to go home. But before we went, the children asked if they could sing us a song. They sang a freedom song about Comrade Mandela. And when we asked them who Mandela was, they told us he is their leader.

As we left, one of our colleagues said he wished he was still young enough to have the chance to attend a FEDTRAW pre-school. He’s a little too old to do that now!

confidence — if you have confidence, you are proud and sure of yourself
non-sexist — non-sexist ideas say that men and women are equal in every way
non-racist — non-racist ideas say that all people, whatever their colour, are equal


An interview with comrade Joe Slovo


Smiles and hugs from long-time comrades, ANC leader Nelson Mandela and SACP leader Joe SLovo meet in Cape Town

For most South Africans, Joe Slovo needs no introduction. Some see him as “public enemy number one”. But many more know him as a tireless fighter of apartheid and a champion of socialism.

Comrade Slovo joined the Communist Party in the early 1940s and has been an active member ever since. At present, he is Secretary-General of the South African Communist Party (SACP).

He is also a member of the African National Congress (ANC) and was one of the earliest members of Its army, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). He is a former Chief of Staff of MK and was the first white person to be elected onto the ANC’s National Executive Committee.

Learn and Teach spoke to Joe Slovo at the ANC’s Head Office in Johannesburg.

LEARN AND TEACH: Firstly, welcome home! What’s it like to be back?
SLOVO: Well, I think it’s the most warming feeling to be back. I feel for the first time in twenty-seven years that I am home!

Learn and Teach: Can you please tell us something about yourself? For example, where were you born?
Slovo: I was born in 1926 in a village in Lithuania in the Soviet Union. Of course at that time, Lithuania was not part of the Soviet Union. The people in the village were very poor and so the heads of families used to go and look for work in other places, just like in the rural areas in South Africa. My father left when I was two years old and went to Argentina. He worked there for some time and then the great depression came in 1929. He lost his job and was unable to make a living so he took a boat to South Africa, and eventually he saved up enough money to send tickets for the rest of the family to join him. This was in 1936. My mother came with us but she died a few years later. She died in childbirth.

Learn and Teach: What did your father do?
Slovo: Well, when we lived in Lithuania he was a fisherman, catching and selling fish. But when he came to South Africa, he was a fruit hawker. He used to sell fruit in the streets. He then became a lorry driver for a bakery in Doornfontein. But he kept losing his job, and in those days if you didn’t pay your debts, you could be sent to prison. So he was in and out of prison.

Learn and Teach: What school did you go to?
Slovo: The school was called Observatory Junior Secondary — it went up to standard eight but I left in standard six. I think I was about fourteen then …

Learn and Teach: Why did you leave? Was it because of money?
Slovo: Yes, my father couldn’t support me. At that stage we were living in a boarding house and he was unable to pay the rent, so I went to work. At first, I worked for a company called S.A. Druggists. I was a dispatch clerk. I used to check orders.

Learn and Teach: How did you get involved in politics? Was your family political in any way?
Slovo: My family was not really political. But at school I had an Irish teacher who influenced me. He was very anti-imperialist, anti-British, and he helped me to understand what was going on in the world. He took some of us to what was known then as a junior left book club. During the Second World War leftists used to hold book clubs where we discussed politics. That was really my first involvement in any kind of structured politics. Then, when I went to work at SA Druggists, I became involved in trade union work. I joined the National Union of Distributive Workers, which was then an all-white union. Blacks were not allowed to be in unions.

Learn and Teach: When did you join the Communist Party?
Slovo: I joined the Party while I worked at SA Druggists. I was about sixteen, I think.

Learn and Teach: Could you join the party at such a young age?
Slovo: Well, I tried to join a little bit earlier. The party used to hold meetings at the Johannesburg City Hall every Sunday night, and when I started working I used to go to these meetings, but I was still young. I applied to join, and so they looked at me and said ‘Well, we think you’d better wait until you wear long trousers’!

Learn and Teach: How long did you work at SA Druggists?
Slovo: Not very long — I was fired because of my union and Party activities! We started a factory group of the Party at the company. We had a Party newspaper in the black toilets, and it survived for about two years because we knew that no white would ever walk into a black toilet. After a year or two, we had a strike which we won. Then I was sacked, and I got a job at Elephant Trading Company in Market Street. I was sacked again for my involvement in union activities.

Learn and Teach: What did it mean to be a member of the party?
Slovo: Well, it meant that I was committed to being involved in its activities, and to spending all my spare time advancing its policies.


Joe Slovo and ANC leader Ahmed Kathrada singing Nkosi Sikelel i’Africa at a meeting in Lusaka

Learn and Teach: What does it mean to be a communist?
Slovo: A communist is a person who believes that the only decent way in which people can live is if there are no individuals who live off the labour of others. In simple terms, we are talking about the kind of society where there are no bosses, and where people work together for the good of the community as a whole.

Learn and Teach: You said earlier you were sacked from Elephant Trading. What did you do after that?
Slovo: I joined the army. At the time, the Party decided that all its white members should join the army to fight against the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini. Not blacks — because they were not allowed to carry arms. I fought in Egypt and Italy, and came back after when the war was over, at the end of 1945.

Learn and Teach: How did you come to study law?
Slovo: Because I was an ex-serviceman, I was able to get a grant to go to university and an exemption for matric — which I never had. I then studied for a BA LLB at Wits, qualified as a barrister (advocate) and from 1950 to 1963 I practised law at the bar in Johannesburg.

Learn and Teach: In the eyes of some white people you are “public enemy number one”. How do you feel about this label?
Slovo: Well, I suppose to be called “public enemy number one” by racists is quite an honour!

Learn and Teach: Perhaps we can talk about events in the country that are taking place now. You were a member of the ANC delegation at the meeting with the government at Groote Schuur in May. Could you please talk about why the ANC decided to come and speak to the government?
Slovo: Well, I don’t think anyone in the ANC ever thought that negotiations is something which stands in a different corner to the struggle. We very early on accepted that negotiations or talks or dialogue is just part of the site of struggle. The goal of talks and the goal of struggle is the same. There’s no difference between the two. Our goal is, and has always been, people’s power. There’s no principle that says ‘violence is the only way to struggle’ or ‘dialogue is the only way to struggle.’ Of course, if you look at our history, we were forced into armed struggle because all the other avenues had closed. But we have always believed that if we could achieve what the people wanted through peaceful means, that was the preferable course. It’s the preferable course for all serious revolutionaries.

Learn and Teach: Why do you think the government was finally prepared to come to the table with the ANC?
Slovo: Well, I think the main reason was the many years of increasing pressure from people inside and outside the country.

Learn and Teach: How do the ANC and SACP see the unbanning of these organisations?
Slovo: The ANC and SACP weren’t unbanned as a present from de Klerk — it was a victory for us. This victory opened up new space for us to take the struggle forward. When an organisation is made legal this opens up enormous possibilities for it to grow strong, to get better organised, to mobilise the people more effectively. As you have seen since the unbannings, we are trying to use that space fully.


A close alliance – ANC leaders ALfred Nzo and Nelson Mandela with SACP leader Joe Slovo at an ANC meeting in Lusaka

Learn and Teach: Could you please tell us how the ANC sees the process of negotiations?
Slovo: Well, I think it’s clear from the Harare Declaration that there are three stages in this process. The Harare Declaration was a document which was drawn up by the ANC, and was then adopted by the whole world. The first stage is the removal of all obstacles in the way of negotiations. The Harare Declaration says there is no possibility of negotiations starting until the state of emergency is lifted; organisations are unbanned; political prisoners are released and the exiles are allowed to return safely; troops are removed from the townships and repressive laws are removed. So far the government has only met some of these conditions. So, that is the first stage, and that is the stage at which we are. In our meeting with the regime at Groote Schuur we told them to meet all these conditions before we can get to the next stage — which is the suspension of hostilities on both sides leading to a cease-fire. We are not talking about abandoning the armed struggle but suspending it. But we made it clear that we are not prepared to suspend the armed struggle unless the government stops violence on its side. If that second stage is achieved, then the way is open for the third stage: the parties can now sit around the table and begin negotiations proper. But until that happens, of course, the struggle goes on in the same way as before.

Learn and Teach: At the end of these talks, both the ANC and the government signed an agreement which came to be known as the Groote Schuur Minute. In the Minute, both sides said that they were committed to the process of peaceful change and working groups have been set up to see that these changes happen. How important is this document and what does it mean to the struggle?
Slovo: Well, it is part of this process that I have just described. It’s at the moment just a piece of paper, and the real question is whether it will work.


Flashback to Lusaka, January 1987: Joe Slovo with MK leaders Chris Hani and Joe Modise

Learn and Teach: There are some people who are critical of the ANC for talking to the government at this time. What is your response to this criticism?
Slovo: As I said in my speech at the rally in Soweto, it is precisely because we engaged the regime in struggle — including armed struggle, not just in theory but in practice — that they have been forced to open this dialogue. And perhaps I should say that some people are very confused about ‘what is a revolutionary policy’. Some people think that a revolutionary policy is a policy that sounds revolutionary. That is not the correct test. In some cases to engage in violence is revolutionary, and in some cases, it is counter-revolutionary. In some cases, to talk of peaceful dialogue, is revolutionary, in other cases, it is counter-revolutionary. The only test is: ‘Will what you are doing take you back, or enable you to go forward?’ We believe that by talking, we are going forward.

Learn and Teach: At this point, what should people and organisations on the ground be doing to end apartheid?
Slovo: I think we should continue struggling against apartheid. We should be mounting campaigns, around all the issues — not just local grievances, but around the issues of people’s power, such as the demand for a constituent assembly, for a redistribution of wealth, and a redivision of the land.

Learn and Teach: The ANC and SACP have fought side by side for many years. Can you please tell us something about the history of the alliance?
Slovo: The alliance has had a long history which started from the beginning of the 1920s, when the Party was formed. The two organisations have always worked together on campaigns like the anti-pass laws. This led eventually to the creation of a formal relationship in 1961.

Learn and Teach: Why was this alliance formed and how is that the two movements are able to work so closely together?
Slovo: The majority of our people suffer two kinds of oppression — economic exploitation and national oppression. You cannot really completely separate the two. They see themselves as being exploited, not just as workers, but as black workers. And so, it’s quite understandable that two organisations — one which is trying to achieve the national aspirations of people, and the other which is trying to achieve the class aspirations — should move closer and closer together. At the present time, the Party accepts that national liberation is the emphasis of this stage of the struggle.

Learn and Teach: The South African government sees the ANC as being dominated by the SACP. Can you please comment on this?
Slovo: It’s not true. And in fact, let me say this: One of the reasons why this alliance exists so strongly, and why non-communists, starting from Luthuli to Tambo to Mandela, treasure this alliance is for the exact opposite reason that the government gives. It is because they have learnt that communists don’t go into an organisation to dominate it, that the ANC values the contribution that communists have made throughout history to the growth and strengthening of the ANC as the ANC. When communists participate in the ANC as members — and I am one of them — they accept that they fall under the discipline of the ANC. If you have ever been to an ANC conference, you would have seen how communists sometimes argue in completely different directions on ANC policy.

Learn and Teach: What are the Party’s plans in the short term?
Slovo: The party is going to emerge as a legal organisation, and this is going to happen sooner than you think. We’re going to announce our interim leadership soon. But of course, we’ve been illegal, for forty years, and you can’t change everything in forty days. It’s a little bit of a process!

Learn and Teach: Will anybody be able to join the Party or will there be a strict selection procedure?
Slovo: The party will invite people who support its policy/its programme and its strategic approaches to join it. Just like any other normal political organisation. We want to grow into a mass party of the new type, but we accept that our numbers will be fewer than the ANC. Much more is demanded of a communist than of a person who belongs to any other political organisation. We believe that communists must show by their contribution by personal character, by dedication and by their readiness to sacrifice. We believe that each communist is an example of a revolutionary.


African Heads of States and ANC NEC members met in Lusaka in February this year. Joe Slovo can be seen in the background.

Learn and Teach: What is your relationship with COSATU?
Slovo: We recently had a very fruitful workshop with COSATU in Zimbabwe. COSATU had 32 delegates, and we had 28 of our members. We spent three days discussing the role of the working class both now and in a post-apartheid South Africa, and we exchanged views on many questions. We believe that in future there will be many occasions for us to work together in an alliance with the ANC, because both COSATU and the Party represent the working-class.

Learn and Teach: How does the party see the role of trade unions in the future South Africa?
Slovo: I think the trade unions have a completely independent role. They must not be controlled by any political force whether its the ANC or the Communist Party. Their job both now and in a future society is to represent their membership — the organised working class — and to protect their interests. I think one of the main reasons that things went wrong in Eastern Europe, is that the trade unions were controlled by political organisations and they were suffocated.

Learn and Teach: How does the Party see the role of women both in the Party and in society at large?
Slovo: Well, our position is very strong on this question. Our practice is not so strong! But, we are really very conscious of the need to be serious. If you read our Umsebenzi, I don’t think there is ever an issue which doesn’t contain some kind of reflection on this problem. The women’s issue is really about men. Some men still have male chauvinist attitudes and this is what we have to address.


Joe Slovo: I am absolutely convinced that socialism will work

Learn and Teach: You mentioned Eastern Europe earlier. Could you briefly talk about recent events in Eastern Europe and what it means for socialism?
Slovo: Well, I think it’s done a lot of damage to socialism, obviously. And I think the one lesson which we must learn, which I think our party learnt even before Gorbachev, is that, if you want to destroy socialism, you separate it from democracy.

Learn and Teach: After what happened in Eastern Europe, can you say that you still believe confidently that socialism is a better system than capitalism?
Slovo: Oh, I have absolutely no doubt that it’s the only civilised way in which humanity should exist. Socialism has achieved much — even in those countries where it failed because of corruption. It achieved the absence of unemployment, social security for every person and free education. For example, take a poor country like Cuba. It is really a Third World country, mainly because of the attempts by the United States to destroy it. But in Havana, fewer babies die at birth than in Washington D.C. That is a United Nations statistic. Even capitalism has been influenced by socialism, for example, the social welfare measures in some countries. It is true that a lot of crimes have been committed in the name of socialism. But remember that even more crimes have been committed in the name of religion. That doesn’t make people move away from their faith in their religious beliefs and so I don’t think we should lose faith in socialism. I think socialism can work, and I am absolutely positively convinced that it will work, despite the setbacks we’ve had in recent periods. I am also convinced that socialism will eventually work in South Africa. It’s also very odd that people talk about the failure of socialism, but what has failed in South Africa is capitalism, not socialism.

Learn and Teach: You have said there must be democracy at all levels of society in South Africa. Can you explain this?
Slovo: That’s right. Democracy is not only voting in general elections every five years or so. For a society to be truly democratic, democracy must be practised from day to day. It is necessary, for example, for workers to participate in the direction of the factories where they work. Organisations such as trade unions, women’s organisations, youth organisations should be given real recognition and participate in the whole process of running society, including civic and local structures and so on and so forth.


Comrade Joe Slovo shares a joke and a laugh with UDF leader “Terror” Lekota

Learn and Teach: Does the SACP support the spirit of glasnost that is blowing through the Soviet Union? How does the Party understand this word?
Slovo: The Party supports the spirit of glasnost. To us, glasnost means a spirit of openness, a spirit of debate, a spirit of tolerating different opinions, as long as they’re not destructive. In other words, a spirit of democratic discussion in the real sense of the word. A spirit of accountability, where the leadership is not a power unto itself, that it can be questioned by the rank and file, and it can be criticised, and it must answer those criticisms. So glasnost really means openness, accountability, democracy.

Learn and Teach: In a recent interview, you spoke about the need for a leadership code. Could you please explain what you mean?
Slovo: Well, it’s going to take time before there is economic change in an ANC-led future society. Overnight we will not be able to provide everyone with a job and a house. And people will have to make sacrifices. But if the leadership earns big salaries and live in nice houses in smart suburbs, there’s no way we will get the people to accept the need for such sacrifice. There is going to be a long period where people are going to be asking themselves: ‘What has happened to this liberation?” And we will have to explain that it’s a process we have to work for, it doesn’t just happen when the ANC flag flies over Pretoria. And the only way those people will remain with us is if they see that the leadership is sharing some of these sacrifices. This is one of the lessons that we can learn from Eastern Europe — that if there is one lifestyle for the leadership and another for the people, the people obviously won’t accept the need for hardship. So I think it is very important that the broad liberation movement starts developing a leadership code of conduct.

Learn and Teach: Are you hopeful for a speedy end to apartheid?
Slovo: Well, I’m hoping for a speedy end but I can’t say for sure — it’s not written in the stars! It doesn’t depend on what I and other people hope, it depends upon struggle. But I do believe that the power of the people today is great enough to make the other side realise that they can’t continue holding on for too long.


THE State of Emergency has finally been lifted — except in Natal of course.

It is our view that it was not necessary for the government to impose the State of Emergency in the first place. It is sad that the National Party — of which FW de Klerk has long been a member — took five years to realise and accept this.

In these long years — since July 1985 when the emergency regulations were first introduced — thousands of people, including children, were detained without trial; our organisations and hundreds of people were banned and restricted; many were killed and some disappeared without trace.

Also, many newspapers and journalists were harassed and some were even banned. Like other media organisations, we at Learn and Teach Publications were raided, our publications were seized — and were not returned to us! In many cases, we were not able to report events and valuable information to our readers.

In spite of all these problems we continued to publish. And it was thanks to our sellers that our publications were able to reach our readers. Learn and Teach sellers ran great risks when selling the magazine — many had their magazines taken away by the police and some were even arrested. But they never gave up!

We welcome the lifting of the State of Emergency and the release of some prisoners. These are the results of our struggles and pressure on the government. Our determination and courage never failed us — we waged successful campaigns and defied apartheid laws. We also unbanned ourselves and our organisations. The sacrifices we made paid off. Therefore it is a victory for us.

But, it is a victory with a heavy price: Our comrades went on long and painful hunger strikes lasting many days in their efforts to make sure that they were released from detention and that the State of Emergency was lifted. Many of the scars of those hunger strikes and many months in detention have not yet healed. And, therefore, credit for the lifting of the state of the emergency should go — not to de Klerk — but to the people.

We believe, however, that the lifting of the State of Emergency is a step forward. It contributes towards a climate suitable for the holding of negotiations. But the ball remains in the government’s court to take more steps and bolder steps so that the negotiation process can start. The government should stop dragging its feet. As the ANC says, piecemeal and partial solutions are no answer.

Like many other people, we call on the government to lift the remaining emergency regulations in Natal and, above all, to fully meet all the demands in the Harare Declaration.

It is our view that it is not difficult to do so.
Now is the time. FW de Klerk must act, and act decisively!

Welcome home Oliver Tambo!

Untitled0-11In March 1960, the African National Congress (ANC) realised that it was going to be banned. It decided immediately to send its vice-president, Oliver Tambo, out of the country. Tambo’s mission was to open offices in the outside world and keep the struggle for freedom alive in the minds and the hearts of the people of the world.

Two days after he left, the ANC was banned. Tambo was to remain in exile and at the head of the organisation for the next thirty years. His strong leadership and untiring dedication to the ANC helped to turn the organisation into what it is today…

After three decades of exile, Tambo is home. In this article, Learn and Teach pays tribute to this outstanding leader of the people of South Africa.

IT is Saturday, 27 October 1917…

Under the shade of a big womga tree sit the old, grey-haired men of the village. They pass an isatyi of umqombothi from hand to hand. A few paces away, pots are filled with thetasty smell of mqchushu and mutton. The villagers of Enkatsweni, near Bizana in the Transkei, are here to welcome the birth of a new baby, the son of Frederick and Julia Tambo.


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The Tambos named their new-born son Oliver Reginald — or OR for short. Little did the proud parents realise that their boy would rise to become one of the greatest leaders in South African history — and the President of the oldest liberation movement in Africa.

Frederick and Julia Tambo owned an orchard and a fowl-run. It was the young Tambo children’s job to look after the property. Frederick believed in developing the spirit of responsibility and management at a young age!

At the age of twelve, Oliver went to school at the Methodist Mission School in Ludeke. He got a first class pass in Standard Six — but he could not afford to study further because the family had no money. So, instead of leaving, he passed the same standard three times! Each time, he got a first-class pass.

In the mid-1980s, Oliver was given the chance to continue his schooling at the Holy Gross Mission near Flagstaff. After passing his junior certificate exams, the missionary school gave him a scholarship. He went to St. Peter’s School in Johannesburg where he passed matric with a first class pass in 1938.

The following year, Tambo got a bursary from the Transkei legislative assembly to go to university. He registered for a Bachelor of Science degree at Fort Hare. It was here that he met Nelson Mandela and the two became great friends.

After completing his BSc degree, Tambo enrolled for a University Education (teaching) Diploma. “I didn’t really want to be a teacher, but there was nothing else I could do. There were very few opportunities for educated Africans and teaching was one of them,” Tambo would later say.

In his fourth year of university — 1942 — Tambo’s leadership skills were recognised. He was elected head of the committee of the Anglican Church Hostel on campus. 1942 was also the year that Tambo became very politically aware. He remembers an incident that made him determined to devote his life to the struggle against racism — wherever it was found.

One day, a white boarding master hit an African woman employee. To Tambo’s horror, no action was taken against the man. The students organised a protest against the university and Tambo played a key role in it.

The young student realised that even the church carried the disease of racism. “This incident forced me to take a critical look at the church and racism in general. It forced me to take the step of fighting against all forms of racism. I was never to regret this decision,” he later said.

Tambo was a devout Anglican and still is. But he could not accept racist attitudes in the church. After taking part in another protest action against racial discrimination in the church, he was expelled. He taught at St. Peter’s High School in Johannesburg for a few years. Among his students was Duma Nokwe, who later became ANC Secretary-General in the 1950s.


1952 – A young Oliver Tambo in the office of his law firm

In the meantime, the ANC was getting a lot of support from young people and the organisation formed a youth wing called the ANC Youth League in April 1944. Tambo, AP Mda, Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, and others became the leaders, with Anton Lembede as president. Tambo was elected National Secretary and later became Transvaal regional president. From 1948 to 1949, he was the League’s National Vice- President.

Until the formation of the Youth League, the ANC was a “hamba kahle organisation”, making representations to the government. But with the arrival of the “young lions of 1944” things changed… The Youth League decided that the time for reasonable talk was over — it was time to make demands.

The first step was to draw up a document called the African Claims, which demanded a Bill of Rights and an end to racial discrimination. This was followed by the Programme of Action of 1949 and the Defiance Campaign of 1952.

By the end of these campaigns the ANC had become a militant mass organisation with 100 000 members. Many young men, such as Lembede and Mandela, were steadily making up their way in the organisation. Tambo was among them. In 1946 he was elected onto the ANC’s Transvaal Executive Committee.

During these years of political work, Tambo was still teaching at St. Peter’s. But he left to study law in 1948, after the death of Anton Lembede, who was a lawyer. Tambo remembers that it was Walter Sisulu who first gave him the idea of studying law. The story goes that Sisulu said to him: “Lembede is dead. Why don’t you take up law?” And so, he did.

Tambo completed his degree at Wits University and went on to open a law firm with Nelson Mandela in 1952. “Mandela and Tambo” was the sign on the door of their office at Chancellor House — opposite the Johannesburg Magistrate’s court. No problem — big or small — was too much for the young lawyers and there were always queues of people outside the office. Tambo remembers how he often had to climb over people so that he could reach his own office in the morning!

Mandela and Tambo’s friendship continued after their law firm was forced to close because of the Group Areas Act. Mandela was to write from his prison cell about this friendship many years later, in February 1985…

“Oliver Tambo is much more than a brother to me. He has been my greatest friend and comrade for nearly fifty years. If there is any one amongst you who cherishes my freedom, Oliver Tambo cherishes it more, and I know he would give his life to see me free. There is no difference between his views and mine.”

The end of the 1940s saw the National Party (NP) coming into power. Apartheid became the law of the land. In 1949, the NP passed the Immorality Act and the Separate Amenities Act. At the same time as the Nats were passing laws to stop black resistance, Tambo was rising in the ANC. He was elected onto the National Executive Committee (NEC) in the same year.


1959 – Tambo addresses an ANC meeting, a year before the organisation was banned

In May 1950, the government passed the Suppression of Communism Act and banned the Communist Party of South Africa. The ANC held a protest meeting and Tambo spoke: “Today it is the Communist Party. Tomorrow it will be our trade unions and the Congress.”

The 1950s were years of intensified struggle. The ANC organised a huge protest against the “dompas” in 1952, and launched the Defiance of Unjust Laws campaign. In 1955 the Freedom Charter was drawn up and a year later in 1956, 20 000 women marched to Pretoria in protest against passes. Their banner — the ANC.

The state reacted to the struggles by banning ANC members under the Suppression of Communism Act. In 1954, Tambo was given a two-year banning order under this act — even though he was not a member of the Communist Party. He was banned again in 1959.

The ANC continued to organise and get support despite the bannings of the leaders. So in 1956, the state fought back by arresting 156 leaders of the Congress Alliance — including Tambo, Mandela, Sisulu and Joe Slovo. All 156 people were charged with treason. The state’s argument was that the Freedom Charter was part of a communist plot to overthrow the government. The charges against Tambo and others were dropped in December 1957.

In the meantime, Tambo had been elected ANC Secretary-General in 1955. In 1958, when the ANC’s President-General, Chief Albert Luthuli, was banned, Tambo was elected Deputy President.


1988 – Oliver and Adelaide Tambo enjoyinh the birthday concert for their old friend and comrade, Nelson Mandela

But even for Tambo, life was not all politics and no play. In 1957, he fell in love and married Adelaide Tshukudu, a young nurse. The couple have three children — Dudulani, Dalindlela and Tambi.

On 21 March 1960 the PAC held a protest march against passes in Sharpeville. Sixty-nine people were shot dead by the police. The ANC National Executive Committee met on 28 March 1960 to discuss developments. It was clear that the government would act against people’s organisations.

It was then that the NEC decided that Tambo should leave the country. The banning of the ANC and the PAC closed the doors of peaceful forms of struggle that the ANC had followed for almost 50 years. The ANC decided that the armed struggle was the answer to police and army bullets.

Mandela and others set up the National High Command whose responsibility was to prepare for a violent overthrow of the government. On 16 December 1961, the birth of Umkhonto we Sizwe — the Spear of the Nation (MK) — was announced with bomb blasts in the major cities. From 1962 “amadelagufa” — those prepared to die — left the country to undergo military training in Algeria, Morocco, Ethiopia and Egypt and later in Zambia, Tanzania, the Soviet Union and East Germany.

In 1963, many members of the High Command were arrested at Leliesfarm in Rivonia. This was a crushing blow to the ANC. Many of its leaders were sentenced to long prison terms. The ANC had to start afresh to build a liberation army and underground structures inside the country. This it did successfully.


1987 – Even though Tambo spent 30 years in exile, he was able to meet his fellow South Africans from time to time. Here he is pictured with Dr. Beyers Naude. 

In 1967, the first group of trained MK guerrillas crossed the Limpopo river — together with the Zimbabwean People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) — into what was then Rhodesia. On their way to South Africa, the Luthuli detachment (as they were called) and ZIPRA fought fierce battles against the South African and Rhodesian security forces at a Zimbabwean town called Wankie. Tambo commented at the time:

“It can be said that for the ANC this is the beginning of the armed struggle for which we have been preparing since the early 1960s… Our fighters showed how superior they are over the racist forces…”

Tambo continued to travel the world seeking support for the South African liberation struggle and the ANC. He addressed the United Nations on many occasions, met Heads of States and was interviewed thousands of times.

In one of the interviews of the early 1960s he spoke to the author, Pieter Lessing. The author described him like this: “He is an impressive man, well-spoken and well-educated. I was once more struck by the thought what excellent Africans South Africa had produced.

“Tambo was critical of all the speech- making and the wild talk of liberation and violence by African Prime Ministers and others who have never been to South Africa and who probably have no intention of ever going there. He was equally critical of all the emotionalism which the wild speeches induce. To him the struggle is more that a bandwagon for aspiring leaders, more than a pastime to be indulged in from a safe distance.”

In the meantime, Adelaide and the children joined Tambo and settled in Britain. However, Tambo’s “home” was not to be his house in London. He was always on the move, travelling the world to try and get support for the ANC. He spent much of the time in Lusaka at the ANC headquarters.

After the death of ANC President- General, Chief Luthuli, in 1967, Tambo was appointed Acting-President until he became President in 1969. In June 1985, the ANC held its Second Consultative Conference in Kabwe and Tambo was re-elected to this position. By this time, OR’s name was emblazoned in the hearts and on the lips of many South African youths. Schools, “people’s parks”, township streets and squatter camps were all named after him.

Despite bad health in the past few years, Tambo continued to make an enormous contribution to the movement. He played a very important role in drawing up the African Position on Negotiations document. The document was adopted by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) as the Harare Declaration.

Finally, the years of stress and hard work caught up with the seventy-three year old leader. Last year in August, he suffered a stroke and spent a long time in hospital. He was discharged in April this year but until now, he has not been well enough to travel much.

In November, Oliver and Adelaide Tambo were awarded the freedom of London’s Haringey suburb. The Freedom Declaration praised the couple for the tremendous contribution they made to the struggle for freedom in South Africa during their long years of exile and residency in Haringey. OR is also due to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of the Western Cape early next year — also in recognition of his role in the struggle.

Learn and Teach magazine takes this opportunity to welcome OR back home as a dedicated, loyal, trusted, and tested leader of the people of South Africa!

In an interview with the ANC newsletter Sechaba in 1967, Tambo spoke about the ANC’s Programme of Action:
“Our programme of struggle is the Freedom Charter, which … sets out the kind of South Africa we shall establish upon taking over power.
“We fight for a South Africa in which there will be no racial discrimination, no inequalities based on colour, creed or race — a non-racial democracy which recognises the essential equality between man and man.
“We shall abolish ail the machinery whereby a few live and thrive on the exploitation of the many. The power of government will rest in the hands of the majority of the people,… It is the people who will decide on the methods … for putting into effect the principles set out in the Freedom Charter.”


WHAT a year this has been!

Since president de Klerk’s speech on February 2, we have seen more political change in one year than in the whole of the last 40 years. The eyes of the world were on us this year as the ANC, the PAC and other political organisations were unbanned, as Nelson Mandela was released and as talks about talks began.

But 1990 was also a year of terrible violence — and even as we write, the violence continues. The war in Natal has not ended, nor has the violence on the Reef and in other parts of the country.

We are also saddened by the rising cost of living. Inflation continue to cause more pain and hardship than most people are able to bear. Unemployment is worse than ever.

As we go into the new year and towards a democratic government we are faced with urgent problems. We need to get negotiations on the road so that we can well and truly throw the last spade of sand on apartheid’s grave. We need to educate our children — and adults need also to be given the chance to make up for lost opportunities. We need housing, decent health care. We need to learn and educate each other about the killer disease AIDS, And we need to learn — and practice — tolerance towards our fellow human beings.

The country is changing — and so is Learn and Teach magazine. We have big plans for the new year, plans which we hope will lead to a better, more educational and more exciting magazine.

January to April next year will be a time of planning for the staff at Learn and Teach Publications — so we will only be bringing you your first magazine in April. After April, the magazine will come out monthly. Those readers who have subscriptions should not worry — you will still receive the correct number of magazines.

A few months ago we ran a survey. We would still like to invite all our readers who have ideas about how we can change and improve the magazine to write to us. We would appreciate any suggestions and will give all suggestions serious thought.

So, this is our last issue of the year. Just as we began the year with a cover story about the release of Nelson Mandela, so it is fitting to see this year out with a dedication to Oliver Tambo, president of the African National Congress, who has come home after 30 long years in exile. Welcome home, OR!

Finally, we would like to thank our readers, sellers and funders who have continued to support us for the last nine and a half years and to wish you all a happy, healthy and peaceful new year. Roll on 1991!

Another kind of love


Gay activist Simon Nkoli

About one in every ten people in South Africa is gay. In other words, three and a half million South Africans prefer to make love with someone of their own sex. Even though there are so many gay people, they still suffer much oppression…

THE telephone rings. Simon Nkoli answers. “Hello, Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand.

Can I help you?”

The person on the other side speaks. He tells Simon that he is sixteen years old and he thinks he is gay. “I don’t know what to do. I feel so alone. I feel that I’m the only one who is gay.”

Simon tells the youth not to worry — he is not the only one, because he is speaking to Simon, who is also gay! Simon promises to send the youth a membership form and invites him to come to the next meeting of GLOW.

In another part of Johannesburg, at the magistrate’s court, a 40 year-old man is found guilty of having sex with a man of 18. The law says that if one of the men is under 19 years, he is committing a crime. The 40 year-old man is worried that he will get fired from his job, because in the eyes of the courts, he is a criminal.” In Soweto, a young girl has tried to kill herself. She was afraid to tell her parents that she loves women, not men. These are just a few examples of the troubles that gay people experience.

Learn and Teach spoke to Simon Nkoli, who is a founder member of GLOW. Simon is also a political activist who was one of the accused in the famous Delmas treason trial. We began by asking him what it means to be gay.

“A gay person is someone who is attracted to another person of the same sex,” he said. “Part of that attraction is sexual. This does not mean that a gay man does not like women or that a gay woman does not like men — I have many women friends.”

Unfortunately, many straight people cannot understand gay love. They cannot understand that a man can love another man, or a woman can love another woman. Some straight people tease gay people. There are cases where gay people have been assaulted — just because of their sexual preference.

It is especially hard for parents to accept that their child is gay. Simon remembers when he told his parents that he was gay: “They thought I was bewitched. They sent me to prophets, to traditional healers, to western psychologists. They all tried to “cure” me, but of course, there is no cure, because being gay is not a sickness.”

But many gay people suffer terribly because other people think they are not “normal”. Simon says that he knows many young people who hate themselves because they are told that they are “sick”. Some people cannot cope with the pain and they land up in a mental hospital or commit suicide.

“There is so much pressure on men and women to get married and have children,” he said. “People ask you all the time: ‘When are you going to settle down?’ You don’t know how to answer. You don’t want to hurt those who love you, but you know that if you get married, your life will be a big lie. But many gay people do get married and then they cheat on their husbands and wives.”


Johannesburg, 12 October 1990. SA’s first “Gay Pride” march

The law in South Africa also makes life hard for gay people — especially gay men. There are two laws in South Africa about sex between two men. One law says that sex between two men is a crime, even if they both want to have sex. This law is almost never enforced, but it is still an ugly threat.

Another law says that it is a criminal offence for a gay person — a man or a woman — to have homosexual sex with someone who is younger than 19. Gay activists say that these laws are unfair. A heterosexual person can have sex legally at the age of 16. Why do gay people have to wait until they are 19?

For gay people, the thought of being charged in court and given a criminal record is terrifying. They can be fired from their jobs. Their story may be written in the newspapers. Gay activists say that what goes on in the bedrooms of two adult people who agree to have sex is a private matter and should be legal.

There are other laws that are unfair to gay people. Gays are not allowed to get married. A gay couple are not allowed to adopt children, even if they have a long relationship and can give the child a good home. Gay couples are also denied benefits such as insurance and pensions. All this causes great sadness and anger to gay people.

Until recently, there was no help from the church either because the church also saw gay people as “abnormal” and “sinful”. Today, the official attitude of the Catholic, Anglican and Dutch Reform Church is that it’s okay to be gay, but you must not have sex.

Many gay Christians are not happy with the church’s attitude. One gay minister, Heinrich Pretorius from Pretoria, recently resigned from the Dutch Reform church, saying that he couldn’t preach in a church that sees homosexual love as a sin.

Some gay Christians have formed organisations where they can pray together and help each other. One such organisation is the Gay Community Centre, which has branches all over the country and is non-denominational and non-racial.

Learn and Teach spoke to the leader of one of the GCC’s branches, who asked us not to give her name. “I would like the church to accept committed gay relationships. By “committed” I mean serious loving relationships. Many gay couples have long relationships, just like a marriage. They make promises and vows to each other. I believe that the church should accept these relationships, including the sexual part,” she said.

The GCC leader does not believe that the church should accept gay marriage, however. “Marriage is for having children,” she said. She also said that the church should not accept promiscuous sex — like ‘one night stands.’ “The church doesn’t accept promiscuity in straight people, so it shouldn’t with gays. But it should apply the same values and standards to all relationships.”

She ended by saying: “God made all people — gays and non-gays. We are born as we are. So if God allowed us to be born as we are, God loves us all.”


Simon Nkoli with GLOW’s banner

On October 12 this year, a “Gay Pride” march was held in Johannesburg. It was the first ever gay march in South Africa. In overseas countries, gays have been having gay marches and fighting for gay rights for many years. We asked Simon why South African gays have been so slow in taking up the fight.

“There are many reasons,” he said. “Firstly, there is the political situation. For many years, we have only been able to concentrate on one thing — freedom from political oppression. So other struggles — such as gay rights, women’s issues, the environment and so on — have taken second place.

“Secondly, black and white gay people never met because of apartheid laws like the Group Areas Act and the Immorality Act. So there was no unity. Today, many gay organisations are non-racial and are struggling for gay rights together.”

We asked Simon what gay rights and demands are. In reply, he gave us GLOW’S manifesto which demands among other things:

• that parliament changes the law so that two adult gays who agree to have sex together can no longer be prosecuted
• that the law gives long-standing gay relationships the same benefits that heterosexual couples get, like pensions and insurance
• that political organisations adopt a Bill of Rights to protect gay people from discrimination
• that the liberation movement includes gay liberation as part of its struggle for freedom from all oppression
• that religious traditions accept their gay members without conditions
• that newspapers, television and the radio show gay people in a good light
• that employers give gay people the same chances as straight people

“As a non-racial organisation fighting for democracy in our country, GLOW encourages its members to join anti-apartheid organisations so that we also make a contribution to the struggle. We have been silent for too long and it’s time that society learnt that gay people are also human,” Simon said.

“We want people to know that a gay relationship is just as beautiful and wonderful as the relationship between a man and a woman and that we deserve the same respect as any other person. It is not just the laws of the country and the attitude of the church that must change. It is especially important that the attitudes of people change,” he ended.

If you’ve ever thought badly about gays or made a cruel joke, now is the time to think again about your behaviour.

Those of us who are struggling for a new South Africa — a South Africa that is free from oppression and where everyone can live in peace — must make a special effort to think about the suffering of a people who are also oppressed — and to help them find acceptance by society and our courts of law. Let it not be said of us that we ourselves have oppressed!

There are many words to describe people who are attracted to the same sex as themselves. In our story, we have mostly used the word “gay”, which can refer to both men and women. Here are some others: The word “homosexual” comes from Latin, and means love of one man for another. The word “lesbian” comes from the Greek island Lesbos where the poetess Sappho, who loved women, used to live. The word lesbian can only be used to talk about gay women, not men. The word “heterosexual” is used to talk about sex between a man and a woman. Gay people talk about heterosexual people as “straight”.

Letters from our readers

Dear Learn and Teach, I read Learn and Teach and find it very easy to understand. I think it is very important for people to read it and understand the struggle. I think that to understand the struggle you have to feel the oppression on your shoulders and consult people and books. I think this people’s magazine teaches us how to pick up the spear and fight this merciless and unjust apartheid regime. I hope this magazine can give the people all the information they can get.
Comrade Sicelo

Dear Learn and Teach,
What wonderful satisfaction it was to get my regular copy of your magazine. I have been getting them for the past two years. I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to my favourite magazine and would like to wish everyone at Learn and Teach and its readers the best of luck and a prosperous year.
Andries N.P

Dear Learn and Teach, In the name of the Freedom Charter I greet all the ANC leaders who are trying to play a progressive role in changing South Africa. There is one thing I know: apartheid was not created by God. The forces of apartheid forced our leaders to leave their country. In our thoughts and our actions, we take forward their work and commitment. Let’s not let our leaders die in vain. Welcome home all our leaders. N.P. Lady Frere

Dear Learn and Teach, I want to tell you that here in Venda people die like chickens. Vhavenda people kill people and take some parts from their bodies. If you go and complain to the doctor, he will tell you that it is a dog who took the part or something like that. But I am a Christian so when I look at a doctor I feel that the doctors are working for money and the people who have no money are suffering. We are dying like flies in milk. Our President is Ravele. He is sleeping. Help us to solve this problem.

Thank you for your letter. It is very difficult to know how you can fight against ritual murders. Perhaps you should speak to the Northern Transvaal Council of Churches. They are investigating ritual murders.

Dear Learn and Teach, We greet you in the name of God and ask him to bless you and us and our nation. Please help us to meet with Mr Murphy Morobe and the leaders of the MDM. Please pass our letter on to them. We, in prison are being treated badly. We cry to the nation. Please help us to contact a lawyer. How many people must still die in prison before we get help?

Thank you for your letter. We have spoken to Lawyers for Human Rights. They will send a lawyer to help you. But if anyone else has a similar prob­lem they can write to Lawyers for Human Rights.

Dear Learn and Teach, Greetings to all your readers. Thank you for a magazine that teaches us so much. I am a man of 38. I work for the municipality in Theunissen. I had an accident at work. When I returned to work, they refused to pay me for my accident. So I decided to ask Learn and Teach for help. I want books about working laws, notice pay, maternity pay and so on, I want to know what trade union I can join. Help me because I want to take action against my cruel boss.

Thank you for your letter. If you want to join a union, write to South African Municipal Workers Union. If you want to buy books about working conditions, you can write to Work Information Group and ask them what they have and how much the books cost.

Dear Learn and Teach, I am writing to tell you a story which one of my comrades told me. On 26 September 1985 at a certain village near East London, the youth gathered to protest against their removal from their village and their incorporation into the Ciskei. The headman called the police. When the police came, they told the youth to disperse and fired teargas at them. People ran in all directions. Some people ran onto a nearby farm. There a boy was shot dead. The police said that the bullet came from the farmer’s gun. So people began to boycott the farmer’s shop. The farmer spoke to the people and said he did not mean to hurt anyone. Then he slaughtered an ox and asked the villagers to forgive him. Comrades, don’t you think that the farmer should be punished if he is guilty?
A. R.

Thank you for your letter. We told your story to a lawyer. He said that the family of the boy who was killed must speak to a lawyers if they want to lay a charge against the farmer. The boy’s family can go to one of these advice offices in East London: Advice Community Development Centre or Afesis Advice Centre.

Dear Learn and Teach, I am appealing for unity among the stu­dents at the Sekhukhune College of Edu­cation. The students are split because of their political beliefs. They spend their time criticising each other’s organisations like Azapo, the ANC, UDF, SACP, PAC and others. On commemoration days, for example September 12, Steve Biko Day, a certain organisation claims that day as their day. We are divided by whites into races and bantusfans but now blacks are dividing themselves.

Dear Learn and Teach, I am a Mangaung youth and a male student nurse. My big question is this: how can nurses take part in the struggle? It’s high time that people know that nurses also want a people’s government. It is also time for nurses to take part in the struggle so that when victory comes, and it will come very soon, nurses must have something to be proud of. I ask all comrades to help to teach nurses about the struggle.
M.T. M.

Thank you for your letter. The National Education, Health and Allied Workers union has started a nurses’ project to organise nurses. If you want to find out more about it you can write or visit them at National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union P.

Dear Learn and Teach, I am not a resident of Soweto but there is something in Soweto that worries me a lot. At the Zennex garage there is a cross­road. Every day people are knocked down there but the state does nothing about it. At least they could build a bridge to help people cross the road. I think there are many unnecessary robots in white suburbs. I think that the reason that there is not a robot at Chiawelo is because there are no whites. Dear Learn and Teach, what can be done about this problem?
A.T. Mauda

We spoke to the Soweto Traffic Department about your letter. They say they are busy making the Old Potchefstroom Road better. That is why there are no robots. But once they are finished working there will be a robot at the Zennex garage. They do not build bridges for people to cross roads because they say nobody uses them.

Dear Learn and Teach, I am eighteen years old. I was once in love with a girl. The day after we fell in love, this girl went away for three weeks. We had intercourse once after she came back and then we had a fight. Eight months later she came to my house with her parents. She said I had made her pregnant. But her friends told me that she had had another boyfriend while she was away for those three weeks. The thing that hurts me is that I do not think it is my child but my parents are supporting the child. What can I do?

Thank you for your letter. If you are not sure if the child is yours, you can have a blood test to prove that you are not the father. When the baby is at least six months old, you and the baby must go for the test at the Paternity Section of the South African Blood Transfusion Services. If the mother will not let you take the child for the test, you must get a court order. The test costs R375.

Dear Learn and Teach, I saw some advertisements in the “Imvo Zabantsundu” newspaper. The advertise­ments promise to help people buy butcheries, restaurants, combis, cars, tractors, supermarkets etc. and even to lend money from R1 000 to R75 000. But before they can help you, you must pay R30 or R80 or R100. You do not get your money back if they cannot help you. When I wrote to find out more, I wrote to three different places. But when their letters came back, they were all the same letter except that they had different addresses. These are the names of the companies I wrote to:
Do you think these companies will help me?

Thank you for your letter. We phoned Ace Consultants and spoke to the boss, Mr Dlamini. He said he knew nothing of Continental Consultants or Reliable Best Service. When we asked him why the letters were all the same, he said that other companies have copied their letters. When we asked him why you could see where they had crossed out Reliable Best Service on their letter, he said that he had used Reliable’s letter. But now he was in business on his own. We then phoned Continental Consultants and guess who the boss was… Mr Dlamini again! If you want to borrow money, it is always better to ask the bank yourself. If you want to start a small business, get advice from places that specialise in small businesses.

Dear Learn and Teach, I want to correspond with readers of Learn and Teach, especially youth and students from the following countries: Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zaire, Uganda, Swaziland, Malawi. My name and address are (…)
M.A. Mayimva

Dear Learn and Teach,
I am looking for my sister, Ellenah Ngwamathe Motomane. I have not seen her since I was young. My parents said she lived in Maputo. My mother’s name is Welheminah Raisibe Maluleka. Her older daughters are Christinah Ngwamabatlo and Enneth. If anyone knows anything about my sister, please write to (…)
W.K. Lindi

Dear Learn and Teach,
Please publish my poem on June 16th.
I just can’t forget you, brothers and sisters
When you rose up in 1976
When you stood and fought
against Afrikaans
These cowards came and opened fire on you
But you never surrendered
You fought until you defeated them
And now we learn our subjects in English
It is all because of you
It’s you who fought for us
How can I forget you?
I just can’t forget you,
Not even for a single day.
Ralph Mabunda

Dear Readers,
Do you have a problem that you would like us to help you with? Any thoughts or ideas you would like to share with other readers? Then write to us.