5 DECEMBER 1924, Robert Sobukwe born in Graaff Reinet.
5 DECEMBER 1941, Ganspan internment camp closed and all internees taken to Koffiefontein.
5 DECEMBER 1952, Constance Hall re-opens after renovations.
5 DECEMBER 1956, ZK Matthews arrested and charged with high treason.
Pictured is Robert Sobukwe walking in the Oppenheimer Gardens Kimberley.
DID YOU KNOW
Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe was born in Graaff Reinet on 5 December 1924, the son of poor parents and the youngest of six children of Hubert Sobukwe and Angelina Gaziys. Christmas for the Sobukwe family was celebrated with a new suit of clothes for each child. His father Hubert, originally from Lesotho, was a municipal worker, having been employed on the Graaff Reinet water scheme and as a part time woodcutter, and his mother Angelina, a Xhosa, was a domestic worker and a cook at the local hospital. Both encouraged all their children to pursue an education which they had never had.
Sobukwe was exposed to literature by his elder brother at an early age. He was educated at the Healdtown Institute, a Methodist mission school, and obtained a first class matriculation pass. He was Head Boy in his final year. He had, in fact, left school after Standard Six when he attended a Primary School Teacher’s Training course for two years but could not obtain a teaching post. He then returned to the Institute on a bursary where he completed his senior school education. During this period he suffered from tuberculosis, the disease putting a temporary halt to his education when he was hospitalized.
In 1947 he enrolled at Fort Hare University with the assistance of two small bursaries and financial assistance from the Principal of Healdtown in Fort Beaufort, and while reading for his BA degree, made his first impact on the political scene. He was elected SRC President and Secretary-General of the ANC Youth League. After graduation he obtained a diploma in teaching and became a teacher at Standerton but was dismissed after becoming a passive resister in the defiance campaign of 1952. Soon after he accepted a post at Wits University in the languages department.
He identified with the Africanists within the ANC and in 1957 left the ANC to become Editor of The Africanist. A year later he and others broke away from the ANC and formed the PAC. The Pan African Congress held its first conference in 1959 where he was elected President.
He was released from prison in 1969 and was allowed to live in Kimberley with his family but remained under house arrest. Kimberley had been suggested as an area where he could not easily foster subversive activities and also a place where he could live and work, while being easily monitored by the state. At the same time he was also restricted through a banning order, which disallowed political activities.
Various restrictions barred him from travelling overseas, thus curtailing his attempts to further his education. For this same reason, he had to turn down several positions as a teacher at various locations in the United States.
Sobukwe completed his law degree with the help of a local lawyer, in Galeshewe, and then started his own practice in 1975 in Kimberley.
He died in Kimberley on 27 February 1978.