Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The Fourth Estate and the Sobukwe family

There are young people who may not understand the phrase ‘Fourth Estate’ thereby missing the essence of this post or get confused when the phrase is used interchangeably with the word ‘media’. The Fourth Estate is the media. It derived its meaning from the fact that there were three tiers or arms of government – the legislature, the executive and the judiciary which were to be kept in check or accountable by the fourth one which was supposed to be independent and unbiased, the media. In my humble opinion, I don’t think the fourth estate is doing its job efficiently and properly.

Late yesterday afternoon I went to check the newspapers, I had been listening to radio and watching television for the better part of the morning into the afternoon.

I checked various newspapers and browsed through. The Mail & Guardian had a supplement which carried an elaborate story of Mama Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe “The Mother of Azania” and the posthumous Doctorate conferred on her by the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) . I literally stumbled upon that supplementary when I should have learned or heard about it from radio and television when they were doing their newspaper headlines.

The M&G front page did not indicate that there was an important supplement inside the newspaper about the late Mrs Sobukwe as it and other newspapers invariably do about ANC leaders. One would have expected that the front page of the M&G to have had a huge headline to that effect.

The electronic media – television and radio – have a slot on front pages of newspapers but none of them alerted their viewers and listeners about the supplement. The SABC television show Morning Live has a slot on newspaper headlines but it ignored the story. The less said about eNCA the better. A privately owned media outlet such as eNCA should not, even for a moment, entertain the false notion that because it is privately owned it can pick and choose which stories to cover and which ones not to cover. It must be guided by the rules that govern news gathering and dissemination.

The media covered Winnie Mandela’s death for about three months everyday. There were supplements in newspapers and spread sheet articles about her. However, after she passed away, Mama Sobukwe was never accorded that extensive and inordinate amount of coverage that was given to Winnie Mandela by the Fourth Estate.

Does the Fourth Estate want to suggest to the people of South Africa and the world that Winnie Mandela was more important than Mama Zondeni Sobukwe? They must be disabused of that erroneous assumption and misleading idea. The Fourth Estate also tried to portray Nelson Mandela as more important and significant than PAC founding President Robert Sobukwe, – the husband of Mama Zondeni Sobukwe – but failed dismally. If the Fourth Estate is trying to portray Winnie Mandela as more important and significant than Mama Zondeni Sobukwe, it is also going to fail dismally.

Mama Sobukwe was never accused of killing and abusing kids and an innocent medical Doctor. If she had killed and abused white kids as she did African kids, I bet she would have known the four walls of prison and regarded as villain. She has not killed a single white child nor a single white adult that is why the white media hero-worships her and African media personalities ape their white counterparts which is in keeping with the baseless and unfounded doctrine of white supremacy. Mama Sobukwe has never been suspected by her neighbours – either in Mofolo or Galeshewe – of having had links with the South African police.

The way Winnie Mandela literally got away with murder, some of her neighbours began suspecting that she had links with the police. Mama Sobukwe has never accompanied her husband to MI6 offices in Kent, Britain. She would not have accompanied her husband to Kent because Robert Sobukwe was not an MI6 agent. The South African media downplayed the story that exposed Nelson Mandela as an MI6 agent because the South African media has a political axe to grind. Winnie Mandela drew a salary as an MP for years without going to parliament. This was tax payers’ money. Therefore, there is no way Winnie Mandela can be more important than Mama Sobukwe as the media wants to suggest. The media completely ignored Mama Sobukwe’s trials and tribulations and the suffering her children experienced. This is criminal and the crime of media personalities in South Africa shames the devil in hell and stinks to High Heaven.

The media also tried to bury the history of Robert Sobukwe and the organisation he founded, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and again the media failed dismally. Sobukwe and the PAC played a significant role in South Africa’s struggle for liberation. The apartheid government and the West quickly realised that Sobukwe correctly read and understood the West’s modus operandi and how to get rid of western influence and oppression not only in South Africa but the entire continent of Africa and immediately and relentlessly frustrated his efforts by jailing him and restricting his movements even when he had completed his prison term as a a political prisoner until his death. And he was going to achieve his mission through the PAC. His followers were prepared to die for the cause of African freedom and independence as many of them were hanged throughout the 1960’s some whom we reburied in Munsieville on the 13th April 2019, a reburial the electronic media refused to cover.

Sobukwe refused a lectureship position at Rhodes University and resigned from his position as lecturer at Wits University to lead the PAC. However, some people and institutions want to separate Sobukwe from the PAC for academic and political reasons. That is fine. However, to us Sobukwe and the PAC are inseparable; Sobukwe and African people are inseparable; and Sobukwe and humanity are inseparable.

The media decides and influences a people’s culture. Culture is about a people’s thinking processes. We are going to stop the media dead on its tracks from imposing their negative influences on the people of Azania.

In the Sowetan of 16 january 2017 I wrote, “Let me quote the words attributed to John Swinton, a New York journalist: “There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions ÔÇô and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print…

“If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before 24 hours my occupation would be gone… We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes… We are intellectual prostitutes”.

Swinton said this in the 1920’s and what he said more than eighty years ago still holds water. African journalists and media personalities with no conscience can go on ignoring the sad and heroic story of the Sobukwe family for a mesh of pottage. There are those who will keep on telling the story of the Sobukwe family. Thanks to VUT for posthumously conferring a Doctorate to Mama Sobukwe, an exemplary leader just like her husband. We hope other institutions of higher learning will follow suit.


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