Robert Sobukwe was born in Graaff-Reinet in the Cape Province on 5 December 1924. He became politically conscious in the late 1940s, joining the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in 1948.
A fervent Pan-Africanist, anti-apartheid fighter and revolutionary, Sobukwe first worked with the African National Congress (ANC), and espoused a Pan-African strategy to fight colonialism.
He later left the ANC to form the PAC, and he was elected its first President in 1959.
Affectionately known as the Professor or simply “Prof”, Sobukwe spent much of his time developing his ideas on Pan Africanism, and envisioned a free and united Africa.
Sobukwe dedicated is life to fighting racial inequality and the Apartheid regime’s racial segregation policies. After leading a series of protests, Sobukwe’s political activism (he led a nationwide protest against the unjust Pass Law) culminated in his arrest on several occasions and imprisonment. After serving a three year prison sentence Sobukwe was kept in solitary confinement at Robben Island, and was released in 1969. However, his movements and political activities were heavily curtailed by restrictions imposed by the apartheid government.
A Pan-Africanism proponent, Sobukwe is undoubtedly one of Africa’s foremost freedom fighters, a remains a respected nationalist, writer and thinker who later influenced a generation of Pan-African nationalists and freedom fighters.
Sobukwe passed away on 27 February 1978, at the age of 53.
We celebrate Sobukwe’s life and share with you a selection of some of his most profound and inspirational quotes.
1. “Beside the sense of a common historical fate that we share with the other countries of Afrika, it is imperative, for purely practical reasons that the whole of Afrika be united into a single unit, centrally controlled. Only in that way can we solve the immense problems that face the continent people”. PAC Inaugural Speech, April 1959.
2. “We take our stand on the principle that Afrika is one and desires to be one and nobody, I repeat, nobody has the right to balkanise our land”. PAC Inaugural Speech, 6th April 1959.
3. “The wheel of progress revolves relentlessly and all the nations of the world take their turn at the field-glass of human destiny. Africa will not retreat! Africa will not compromise! Africa will not relent! Africa will not equivocate! And she will be heard! Remember Africa!”.
4. “we admire, bless and identify ourselves with the entire nationalist movements in Afrika. They are the core, the basic units, the individual cells of that large organism envisaged, namely, the United States of Afrika”.
5. “In Afrika the myth of race has been propounded and propagated by the imperialists and colonialists from Europe, in order to facilitate and justify their inhuman exploitation of the indigenous people of the land. It is from this myth of race with its attendant claims of cultural superiority that the doctrine of white supremacy stems”.
6. “The Europeans are a foreign minority group, which has exclusive control of political, economic, social and military power. It is the dominant group. It is the exploiting group, responsible for the pernicious doctrine of White Supremacy, which has resulted in the humiliation, and degradation of the indigenous African people. It is this group which has dispossessed the African people of their land and with arrogant conceit has set itself up as the “guardians”, the “trustees” of the Africans”.
7. “We regard it as the sacred duty of every African state to strive ceaselessly and energetically for the creation of a United States of Africa from Cape to Cairo and Madagascar to Morocco”.