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Young, gifted and black : oral histories of young activists in Cape Town and Durban in the early 1970s.

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This study highlights the contribution of activists from Durban and Cape Town in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa in the early nineteen seventies. Historians tend to generally disregard this period, that followed the state crackdown on black political organisations and leaders, especially when writing on the 1960s Defiance Campaign and the 1976 uprising. The respondents in this study developed their political consciousness during the period when internationally there was growing popular resistance to the Vietnam War, coupled with the emergence of the militant Black Power Movement in the USA. This was also the period of the development of the Black Consciousness Movement among 'black' university students in South Africa. The emergence of the dynamic Black Consciousness Movement gave young individuals the ammunition to explore a new identity that could help them discard the shackles of the oppressive consciousness drummed through apartheid schooling. The thesis of this study is about the significant impact the deconstruction of racial identities had on the lives of young activists who resisted racial and class oppression, during the period incorrectly described as The Fifteen Year Night After Sharpeville2 '. It contends that revolutionary zeal evoked spontaneous learning. Powerful learning occurred when it was linked to the struggle against oppression. Under such conditions groups and individuals took responsibility for their own learning and developed skills and strategies that has largely stayed with them for the rest of their lives. This study presents the oral stories of some activists from the Durban and Cape Town areas and explores the activities of these two groups, hundreds of miles away from one another who pursued activities that were largely similar. The focus is on the learning that emerged through the consciousness raising and the conscientisation processes that helped activists psychologically liberate themselves from racial indoctrination. It traces the 2 Jaffe, 1994: 182 development of their consciousness during their youth and examines how that consciousness impacted on their lives as well as their understanding of their social identities in the present. The Black Consciousness philosophy drew individuals away from the preconceived notions rooted in the oppressive ideology of apartheid and created a new identity that promoted 'black' pride and solidarity. Although the groups operated almost 1700 kilometres apart, this study found that those activists who were exposed to philosophies like Freire's 'Education for Liberation' converged towards a common goal for revolutionary social change.


Thesis (M.Ed.) - University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2007.


Students, Black--Political activity--South Africa., Theses--Education.