The Relevance of Robert Sobukwe’s Pan-Africanism in Contemporary South Africa

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Lauren Marx Freedom Park

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Presently certain catchphrases and hashtags have been circulating and trending in the public discourse such as ‘white monopoly capital’, ‘radical economic transformation’ and movements’ phrases such as ‘fees must fall’ and ‘Black First Land First’ formulated in response to issues around education, land and race specifically. However, Robert Sobukwe, intellectual giant of the pan-Africanist struggle, articulated very strong beliefs underpinning these burning societal questions from as early as the 1940s. His incarceration, banishment and ultimate death in 1978 left a political vacuum in South Africa and more than twenty years after democracy, the aforementioned issues Sobukwe stressed during his time need to be revisited. South African is currently experiencing a massive resurgence in the narrative and discourse regarding the need for dialogue around education transformation, land reform and race as a whole. Therefore, this article seeks to draw unpack Sobukwe’s take on these three burning issues in relation to the current discourse in South Africa today underpinned by pan-Africanist philosophy.

Contributor Notes

Lauren Marx was schooled in Bloemfontein and attended the University of the Free State, obtaining a degree in education as well as an Honour’s and Master’s degree in History. She has worked as a junior lecturer, teacher and now qualitative researcher. She is currently a Senior Researcher at Freedom Park in Pretoria. She is the author of several academic articles and opinion pieces. Her research field is in South African history with a keen interest in aviation history. E-mail:

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