LAND: NGCUKAITOBI SPEAKS TRUTH TO POWER

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s “The Land Is Ours” book launch at WSU resonated with audiences at the height of a national political upset around land expropriation without compensation.

 

On Thursday, 12 April, the WSU alumnus and former SRC president shaped insight on the injustices of colonialism and Land Acts that now sow a rift along racial lines within the country.

 

Truth was his point of departure – and truth he told.

 

“Hellen Zille tells everyone that Blacks must be grateful colonialism because it gave us an independent judiciary. What nonsense. The historical fact is that the ideas of constitutional law germinate from Africans. They germinate because Africans are trying to workout a system that will be based on fairness because it is fundamentally an African idea to be fair to someone else. It is called Ubuntu,” he added.

 

Ngcukaitobi continued to explain that the genius of these African legal minds was that they merged western legalities with fundamentally Afrocentric ideas.

 

“They insisted that these ideas be the future of SA,” he said.

 

After having been commissioned to write a bill on land expropriation by the government in 1998, but was ever passed, Ngcukaitobi said that the government has no backbone when it comes to land.

 

“In the last 23 years the government has never expropriated any land, but only that of Black people in order to build roads and Eskom stations but never to Whites. We do not have a legal problem in this country we have a political one,” said Ngcukaitobi.

 

The author said he was always shocked by the historical distortion when it came to land and that the former University of Transkei – now WSU – conditioned him to speak truth to power.

 

“This idea of writing is not exclusively White and I learnt this here at WSU because we had Black avid academic writers who lectured us. You had Black men and women standing before you commanding a subject, analyzing and overcoming it,” added Ngcukaitobi.

 

He was making reference to the lesser known fact that the inventors of constitutional law in South Africa were Black lawyers and academics dating back to Tiyo Soga and John Tengo Jabavu in the 1800’s.

 

The charismatic orator commended WSU’s standing saying that if it weren’t for the university he would not have had acquired tertiary education. He said WSU is an important site of education and empowerment.

 

“In an environment that is supposed to disempower, it is also possible to be empowered. It is here that I first learned of Robert Sobukwe. This university was braod and gave me social consciousness. There is a paradox in a place that is supposed to disempower you – you find yourself,” said Ngcukaitobi.

 

He further expounded on his expressions saying that Black universities were called “bush colleges” and “third tier institutions”.

 

“Being in a historically Black university gives you self-pride. WSU taught us that unless there’s integration between your degree certificate and community struggles, the piece of paper is irrelevant,” he concluded.

 

Postal Services and Telecommunications deputy minister, Stella Ndabeni Abrahams attended the book launch to share words of support and encouragement with the author.

 

By: Sinawo Hermans

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