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Archive for the ‘Reference’ Category

“The Freedom Charter has a Living Testimony” – Ismail Vadi (Podcast)

The Congress of the People and Freedom Charter: A People’s History by Ismail Vadi explores the preamble and history of this important document and offers readers essays by key figures, including Ben Turok and Es’kia Mphahlele, on the main points of the historic charter.

The Congress of the People and Freedom Charter: A People’s HistoryGauteng MEC for Transport and author Vadi recently joined John Robbie in the 702 studio to discuss his book and that important day in Kliptown when the Freedom Charter was signed by the 2 844 delegates gathered at the Congress of the People on 25 and 26 June 1955 – 60 years ago.

“It’s a popular history. The idea is that we need to recollect what happened in the past, record that from a non-academic perspective, and then of course popularise it so that future generations understand what happened in the past and the significance of this campaign,” Vadi says. He goes on to note that “the Freedom Charter has a living testimony” and is still very relevant today, “but of course it needs to be interpreted in it’s time”. The author expresses his hope that the charter, and his book on it, will continue to inspire generations to come – not only in this country but on the African continent and globally.

Listen to the podcast for more on The Congress of the People and Freedom Charter and Vadi’s memories of growing up in Kliptown:


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The Freedom Charter, a Guiding Light, is Being Undermined by a Creeping Deficit in Leadership – Ebrahim Fakir

The Congress of the People and Freedom Charter: A People’s HistoryThe launch of Ismail Vadi’s The Congress of the People and Freedom Charter: A People’s History was recently hosted by the The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

In an article written for the foundation, Ebrahim Fakir, who also chaired the panel discussion at the event, outlined some of the things the panel spoke about.

The panel was comprised of Mandla Nkomfe, Steven Friedman and Goolam Ballim. They are all superbly well-informed men, and brought a diverse range of perspectives to the discussion. The focus of the conversation was the Freedom Charter and its place in contemporary political life.

Read the article:

As for Ballim, Friedman and Nkomfe, they were as usual, astute, even when probed and provoked on issues off the cuff. They showed again why they remain pre-eminent amongst our contemporary political economists.

The discussion is impossible to summarise, save to say that we agreed that the Charter is a people centred guiding light, not a policy document. It is an aspirational and idealistic vision, but is increasingly undermined by a creeping deficit in institutional trust and a public being serviced by a poor leadership (in politics, business, government and civil society).

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The People Shall Govern! Read the Freedom Charter to Commemorate 60 Years Since it Was Adopted

The Congress of the People and Freedom Charter: A People’s HistoryToday marks 60 years since The Freedom Charter was adopted by the Congress of the People in Kliptown on 26 June 1955.

The history of this momentous occasion has been recorded in Ismail Vadi’s new book, The Congress of the People and Freedom Charter: A People’s History. This publication also includes a foreward by struggle stalwarts Ahmed Kathrada and Walter Sisulu.

Various celebrations and events took place around the country today to commemorate this statement of core principles made by the South African Congress Alliance, which consisted of the African National Congress and its allies the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Democrats and the Coloured People’s Congress.

To commemorate this important day in South African history, read the full text of The Freedom Charter:

The Freedom Charter

As adopted at the Congress of the People, Kliptown, on 26 June 1955

We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:

that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people;

that our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality;

that our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities;

that only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief;

And therefore, we, the people of South Africa, black and white together equals, countrymen and brothers adopt this Freedom Charter;

And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.

The People Shall Govern!

Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as a candidate for all bodies which make laws;

All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country;

The rights of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex;

All bodies of minority rule, advisory boards, councils and authorities shall be replaced by democratic organs of self-government .

All National Groups Shall have Equal Rights!

There shall be equal status in the bodies of state, in the courts and in the schools for all national groups and races;

All people shall have equal right to use their own languages, and to develop their own folk culture and customs;

All national groups shall be protected by law against insults to their race and national pride;

The preaching and practice of national, race or colour discrimination and contempt shall be a punishable crime;

All apartheid laws and practices shall be set aside.

The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth!

The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people;

The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;

All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people;

All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions.

The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It!

Restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land re-divided amongst those who work it to banish famine and land hunger;

The state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers;

Freedom of movement shall be guaranteed to all who work on the land;

All shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose;

People shall not be robbed of their cattle, and forced labour and farm prisons shall be abolished.

All Shall be Equal Before the Law!

No-one shall be imprisoned, deported or restricted without a fair trial; No-one shall be condemned by the order of any Government official;

The courts shall be representative of all the people;

Imprisonment shall be only for serious crimes against the people, and shall aim at re-education, not vengeance;

The police force and army shall be open to all on an equal basis and shall be the helpers and protectors of the people;

All laws which discriminate on grounds of race, colour or belief shall be repealed.

All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights!

The law shall guarantee to all their right to speak, to organise, to meet together, to publish, to preach, to worship and to educate their children;

The privacy of the house from police raids shall be protected by law;

All shall be free to travel without restriction from countryside to town, from province to province, and from South Africa abroad;

Pass Laws, permits and all other laws restricting these freedoms shall be abolished.

There Shall be Work and Security!

All who work shall be free to form trade unions, to elect their officers and to make wage agreements with their employers;

The state shall recognise the right and duty of all to work, and to draw full unemployment benefits;

Men and women of all races shall receive equal pay for equal work;

There shall be a forty-hour working week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers;

Miners, domestic workers, farm workers and civil servants shall have the same rights as all others who work;

Child labour, compound labour, the tot system and contract labour shall be abolished.

The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened!

The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life;

All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free exchange of books, ideas and contact with other lands;

The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace;

Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children; Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit;

Adult illiteracy shall be ended by a mass state education plan;

Teachers shall have all the rights of other citizens;

The colour bar in cultural life, in sport and in education shall be abolished.

There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort!

All people shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed, and to bring up their families in comfort and security;

Unused housing space to be made available to the people;

Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no-one shall go hungry;

A preventive health scheme shall be run by the state;

Free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for all, with special care for mothers and young children;

Slums shall be demolished, and new suburbs built where all have transport, roads, lighting, playing fields, creches and social centres;

The aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be cared for by the state;

Rest, leisure and recreation shall be the right of all:

Fenced locations and ghettoes shall be abolished, and laws which break up families shall be repealed.

There Shall be Peace and Friendship!

South Africa shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations;

South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation – not war;

Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all;

The people of the protectorates Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland shall be free to decide for themselves their own future;

The right of all peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall be recognised, and shall be the basis of close co-operation.

Let all people who love their people and their country now say, as we say here:


The hashtag #FreedomCharter was the number one trending topic on Twitter as people debated whether or not the ideals the people gathered in Kliptown 60 years ago have been achieved.

Have a look at whether or not South Africans think the core principles have been adhered to:

Also read:

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Images courtesy of SA History

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On its 60th Anniversary: Jacana Presents The Congress of the People and Freedom Charter: A People’s History by Ismail Vadi

The Congress of the People and Freedom Charter: A People’s HistoryJacana presents The Congress of the People and Freedom Charter: A People’s History by Ismail Vadi, with forewords by Walter Sisulu and Ahmed Kathrada:

The Congress of the People – where the Freedom Charter was formally approved by several thousand delegates – was held over the weekend of 25 to 26 June 1955 in an open field in Kliptown, south of Johannesburg. It was a colourful and dramatic affair. For Ellen Lambert the CoP was seen as “the day of liberation like Martin Luther’s meeting where he gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech”.

The official report of the National Action Council that coordinated the entire campaign stated that there were 2 844 delegates representing all the most important urban centres, with approximately 300 delegates from Natal, 250 from the Eastern and Western Cape, 50 from the Orange Free State and the rest came from the Transvaal, mainly from Johannesburg.

The CoP opened under the chairmanship of Dr W Conco with a prayer by Reverend Gawe and a speech delivered on behalf of Chief Albert Lutuli, who could not attend because of his banning order. This was followed by the presentation of the Isitwalandwe – an honour of a bird feather conferred on distinguished sons of the Xhosa people – to Lutuli, Dr Yusuf Dadoo and Father Trevor Huddleston “in recognition of their work to build a better life in our country, founded upon democracy and equality”. After this each clause of the Freedom Charter was motivated by various speakers as listed below; limited discussion and comments were elicited from the delegates, and the clause was adopted by a show of hands:

Preamble of the Freedom Charter – Alfred Hutchinson

The People Shall Govern – Narainsamy Thumbi NT Naicker

All National Groups Shall Have Equal Rights – Dr Arthur Elias Letele

The People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth – Ben Turok

The Land Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It – T Erik Tshunungwa

All Shall Be Equal before the Law – Dr A Sader

All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights – Sonya Bunting

There Shall Be Work and Security – Leslie Masina

The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall Be Opened – Es’kia Mphahlele

About the author

Dr Ismail Vadi is a member of the Executive Council for Roads and Transport in Gauteng. He currently serves on the Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee of the ANC and the Board of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

He was born in Kliptown in 1960, where the historic Congress of the People was held. He is a former school teacher and lecturer at the Faculty of Education, University of the Witwatersrand. He has had a varied political career. He was an activist in the Transvaal Indian Congress and the United Democratic Front. He was a founder member of the Progressive Teachers’ League and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union.

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Exploring South Africa’s “Cartological Compendium”: An Interview with Andrew Duminy

Mapping South AfricaWilliam Saunderson-Meyer recently spoke to Andrew Duminy, author of Mapping South Africa, about the storytelling power of maps. Duminy says that maps can give one a sense of belonging, and aid in the geographical and historical “mapping” of identity:

At their most mundane, maps are simply two-dimensional renderings of our surroundings, tools to help us find our way from A to B with the greatest efficiency. But as anyone who has ever pored over a map for no other reason than curiosity will attest, there is another, more emotive, aspect to them. Maps are part of our sense of place, of how we slot into a wider world, starting right from childhood. Just cast your mind back to the tingling sense of possibility evoked by the map in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island — or was I just having an embarrassingly severe attack of romanticism? I asked Professor Emeritus Andrew Duminy, author of Mapping South Africa: A Historical Survey of South African Maps and Charts (Jacana), released in December.

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Podcast: Exploring the Latitude of Obie Oberholzer’s Diesel & Dust and Andrew Duminy’s Maps

Mapping South AfricaDiesel & DustJenny Crwys-Williams dedicated her latest book show to two books about travel and exploration: veteran photographer Obie Oberholzer’s Diesel and Dust and Andrew Duminy’s historical treat, Mapping South Africa: A Historical Survey of South African Maps and Charts.

Listen to a podcast of the interview with the authors:

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Andrew Duminy Wrote Mapping South Africa for “Interested Amateurs”

Mapping South AfricaAndrew Duminy considers himself a “interested amateur” when it comes to maps and cartography. He told The North Coast Courier that while doing research for his Master’s thesis on the history of the Eastern Cape frontier, he became aware that there were few books on marine and land surveying easily understandable to the layman.

So, Duminy wrote Mapping South Africa for “interested amateurs” such as himself, avoiding technical and academic jargon:

Many books written about cartography are often hard to understand and approach the subject from an expert’s view commonly including technical and academic jargon.

However, Ballito resident and Professor Emeritus Andrew Duminy’s new book Mapping South Africa: A Historical Survey of South African Maps and Charts seeks to tell the story behind the maps in order to explain the changes that took place as far as accuracy and detail are concerned.

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Behind the Map: An Interview with Andrew Duminy

Mapping South AfricaThe Witness‘ Stephen Coan recently spoke to Andrew Duminy, author of Mapping South Africa: A Historical Survey of South African Maps and Charts, about his long-held fascination with maps. Duminy says that, what sets him apart from a cartographer – someone interested in “who drew the map” – is his primary interest in the “story behind the map”:

“Maps are a way of looking at history,” says Andrew Duminy. “Paging through this book you are paging through South Africa’s history.”

Those pages belong to Mapping South Africa — A Historical Survey of South African­ Maps and Charts authored by Duminy­, professor emeritus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, biographer of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and author of several studies and books on the Cape Frontier and KwaZulu-Natal.

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Andrew Duminy Charts New Territory in Mapping South Africa

Mapping South AfricaGavin Foster recently spoke to historian Andrew Duminy about his pioneering new book, Mapping South Africa, which charts the history of map-making in South Africa while uncovering many rare maps that, until now, have been largely unavailable to the public.

Duminy emphasises the importance of technology in writing the book, saying that his four-year project would have been impossible without the use of scanners and the internet:

“The Dutch didn’t bother with the Cape coast. They occupied Table Bay but avoided the rest as much as they could by sailing south and skirting the African continent.” This was largely because they lacked the means to accurately map the treacherous coastline.

Then, in 1752 there was a rapid transformation when a French navigator and sea captain called Mannevillette drew a detailed chart after conducting a running survey along the coast.

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Andrew Duminy Launches Mapping South Africa at Adams Books Musgrave Centre

Andrew Duminy

Mapping South AfricaYesterday evening saw a convivial audience gather at Adams Books Musgrave Centre for the launch of Andrew Duminy’s Mapping South Africa: A Historical Survey of South African Maps and Charts, the bookshop’s final launch for the year.

Following an introduction by Adams Books’ Peter Adams, Duminy began by confessing that he is a “map freak”. Duminy, who worked on Mapping South Africa for over five years, expressed his belief that doing research on a subject he so loves, may have “prolonged his life”. According to Duminy, the purpose of the book is to try to explain the story of the how South Africa was mapped. Yet, during his exploration into the topic, Duminy was often led astray by the many fascinating stories and inventions he discovered – only some of which were directly relevant.

Duminy spoke briefly about some of the maps in the book that are of particular interested to him. One of these is Sir James Carmichael Smythe’s map of the 19th century Cape, which also forms the cover of the book. With regards to this exquisite historical artifact, Duminy expressed his wonder at the “intricate, clear, amazing artistic ability of the map drawers of that time.”

He further whetted the audience’s appetite by explaining some of the processes behind map-making, briefly clarifying the difference between the plain table mapping process and trigonometric mapping using theodolites. However, as no discussion about maps in the 21st century can be complete without a mention of Google, Duminy remarked on the massive changes that have taken place in map-making – including GPS systems and the rise of Google Earth – as well as how and why maps have become more accurate.

Duminy concluded by extending his thanks to his wife, Linda, for her help in editing the book. He also thanked Jacana’s Russell Martin for making the book a “beautiful one, by straightening things out, and making it readable, as well as employing a top book designer in Cape Town who insisted on making high quality map reproductions”. He mentioned Afriterra as one website particularly noteworthy for those interested in maps, describing those who run it as a “group of enthusiasts and volunteers”.

Following a lively Q&A session, Duminy concluded the launch on the uplifting note that, if writing Mapping South Africa hasn’t added actual years to his life, it has certainly enriched it.

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