Bloodier than black and white: liberation history seen through detective sergeant Donald Card’s narrative of his investigations of Congo and Poqo activities, 1960-1965.
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By 1950 the African National Congress and the Natal and Transvaal Indian congresses, had already embarked on an activist road to free Africans, Coloureds and Indians from unfair discrimination, injustices big and petty, and oppression. Over the next ten years, the liberation struggle quickened into a multi-fronted thrust against the apartheid state, including civil disobedience, strikes and boycotts, and the transition to violent struggle. From the pioneering works such as Edward Roux’s Time Longer than Rope (1964) through a host of treatises to the latest study by the South African Democracy Education Trust, The Road to Democracy Volume 1 (1960-1970) (2004) the liberation struggle has, with few exceptions, been sketched in black and white. Scholars generally sing the praises of the seekers of the public good (the liberation movement) and excoriate the perpetrators of evil (the apartheid state and its functionaries). The liberation struggle did indeed involve the efforts of those aspiring to freedom, opportunity and republican virtue against those who oppressed African, Coloured and Indian people and held them hostage through legislation and denial of opportunity and who appropriated the best fruits of society for white South Africans. Political struggle, and indeed political combat, as it played out in South Africa, however, made for a messy picture that often defies the hero-and-villain narratives that had invariably been produced and which seeped into our national consciousness. This article will explore the evasions, omissions, and twists that made possible the black and white liberation history that are currently consumed. To do so the activities of the Congo or iKongo movement, will be probed into as well as that of and Poqo. It will be done through the story of police detective Donald Card who had been involved in almost every significant event in South African history the past five decades. The why of certain events and developments, including crime under the cloak of politics, are often ignored or romanticised. This included charges of torture and brutality, push so readily into the public domain – as in Red Dust, the latest drama on torture in South Africa.