Insurrectionism in South Africa : the Pan-Africanist Congress and the Poqo movement, 1959-1965
The thesis discusses the history of a black South African political organisation, the Pan-Africanist Congress during the brief period of its effective influence inside South Africa: from 1959 to the mid-1960s. The PAC is identified as a populist movement, that is a movement of people who in one way or another were attempting to resist the impulses of an industrialising society. Its ideology therefore tended to stress communal as opposed to class-bound social identities. Beginning as a small dissident group within the dominant African political organisation, the African National Congress, the PAC was born after a decade of mass-based campaigning had distanced the ANC from its earlier nationalist position. The PAC acquired a following in only a few places, normally where its rival, the ANC, was weak and badly organised. It only approached the dimensions of a mass movement in the Western Cape where its militant, racially assertive rhetoric attracted migrant workers who were affected by a twin set of pressures: the efforts by the authorities to exclude them from urban society and the restructuring of their home communities in the Transkei. After the PAC's banning in March 1960 these people began to play a crucial role in transforming the organisation from a cluster of conspiritorial nuclei drawn mainly from the middle class into the popular movement Pogo, in the process injecting it with their own material and ideological preoccupations. In 1963 the PAC's exile leadership attempted to mobilise this following in a nation-wide insurrection but most of their preparations were known to the police who anticipated their plans with thousands of arrests PAC-inspired violence was therefore localised and confined mainly to the Transkei and the Western Cape. Two chapters examine the local social tensions which underlay PAC/Pogo violence in Paarl and the Tembu districts of the Southern Transkei. By way of contrast the development of the movement amongst a non-migrant constituency is examined in a chapter on the PAC's progress in East London and Pretoria. The thesis concludes with an examination of the PAC in exile: here divorced from its popular base and from the political environment which gave rise to its ideological concerns the movement lost its vigour and integrity: a classic instance of the tragedy of exile politics.