OPINION: Nikiwe Bikitsha reflects on what remains of the ANC in Lusaka

I saw the ghost of the ANC last week.

When the ANC and PAC were banned in 1960, they operated in exile. One of the countries which gave the ANC refuge was newly-independent Zambia. I was in Lusaka last Tuesday, 57 years to the day, after that horrific bloodbath, the Sharpeville massacre, which subsequently led to the banning of the two liberation movements.

It being my first visit to Lusaka, I pestered our fixer to show us where the ANC headquarters had been. Like many South Africans, I have been wrestling with what the ANC has become. I had to pay homage to what it once was, and what it once stood for.

As we begin our hunt for the building, no-one seems sure where it is. You see, there is no shiny monument or neat brown tourist sign to point the way; there is no buzz among the locals, to say, "there at that corner turn left, and there you will find it".

We tracked down Patience, a woman who does the Southern Africa freedom trail, an informal tour which points out some of the significant landmarks in the fight for freedom.

Zambia played a critical role in supporting freedom fighters from SA, Namibia and Mozambique. We pick her up in our sturdy white 4x4. As we drive around town, she makes a few calls and from her conversation, we hear, that there seems to be a bit of guesswork about the location of the building, which once housed Africa's oldest liberation movement.

After watching her nod several times, it's clear she's found what we're looking for.

We park near a shopping centre in the rustic looking but bustling CBD. We walk past street hawkers, and brightly painted shops. Outside one store there is an exuberant salesman with a loud hailer, offering cheap prices on all manner of trinkets, clothes and even a framed picture of Zambian president Edgar Lungu, neatly placed on the sidewalk. We eventually pass this cacophony of city buzz. The streets and alleys become narrower and potholes larger as we move further away from the bustle of the Main Street, Cairo road.

The tar starts thinning out and morphs into dirt roads. We have been walking for a while. A film of sweat starts forming on my face as we continue to search for what was ANC HQ. Eventually we turn right down a craggy, dusty road. The shouts of street sellers have died down and the din of metal and scrap starts to take precedence.

We now have to walk in single file so as to avoid water-filled potholes which take up the bulk of the road. On my left is something that looks like a warehouse, I can't be sure because it's unmarked.

That's when Patience starts talking on her phone again, gesticulating with her finger towards the rundown building down the road. At the corner where she stops is a brown nondescript concrete building, it has a blue metal door which is wide open. Brown rust is starting to set in at its corners. Above the door is a faded white sign, which reads Zambia police.

Patience shouts animatedly, that this is it! A police officer working inside the building, confirms that indeed this was ANC house. At least I assume he is a police officer since this is a satellite police station, but I can't be certain because he is in civilian clothes. He is the only person inside the small building and his task seems a lonely one.

He explains that we can see the rest of the building if we walk around the block and ask the people at the trading store to go through the shop, out the door, to the backyard. We do that. The Sun trading store is like one of those general dealer stores that could be found in most rural towns in the Transkei when I was growing up. It's small and cramped and sells everything from pink body lotion to electronics to clothing and food. An item which catches my attention is a blue overall, that’s typically worn by workmen and women. It has an SA flag attached on the lapel. I wonder how it found its way here. We wade through the maze of people and shop paraphernalia and are shown through to the backyard.

The yard is packed with heaps of scrap. There is a broken down truck, which partially blocks the path. If you squeeze through you can make it. Inside the building are heaps of old TVs covered in dust, and other detritus

The paint is peeling from the walls. It looks a faded blue. The only noise as I look around, is the click click click of the photographer, otherwise it's as quiet as a grave. We do not talk, we do not gasp, we do not share reflections. It is eerily quiet. After lingering for a while taking in the silence and the clutter, we leave. We still do not talk. We leave the ghost of the ANC, beneath the rubble, under the debris of grey, dusty TVs.


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI
Read More
Opinion: ANC administration all about eating as much as you can while you can

Opinion: ANC administration all about eating as much as you can while you can

Xolani Gwala says Naledi Pandor is alone on the call for lifestyle audits to identify public servants involved in corruption.

Opinion: Are police reluctant to use technology?

Opinion: Are police reluctant to use technology?

Xolani Gwala sugges ways technology has proven to combat crime in SA and may help people feel a lot more secure.

OPINION: Reflecting on the war on women and children's bodies

OPINION: Reflecting on the war on women and children's bodies

Redi Tlhabi speaks of her despair at the lack of outrage when women are abused in the country.

Opinion: Social housing in Sea Point won't collapse your world! - John Maytham

Opinion: Social housing in Sea Point won't collapse your world! - John Maytham

Social housing in Sea Point will house the very people who you are happy to have look after your kids & serve you in restaurants.

Opinion: We must be awake to the politics of knowledge - Redi Tlhabi

Opinion: We must be awake to the politics of knowledge - Redi Tlhabi

Presenter Redi Tlhabi has urged South Africans to be aware of the politics which govern knowledge production across the world.

Opinion: Laying equal blame on parents in Spur spat is wrong says Eusebius

Opinion: Laying equal blame on parents in Spur spat is wrong says Eusebius

He believes it's a moral cop-out to say the only thing going on in the video is two adults behaving badly in front of the kids.

Opinion: This is the stuff of a rogue state

Opinion: This is the stuff of a rogue state

Xolani Gwala raises concerns around a recent break in at former Social Development DG Zane Dangor's home.

Opinion: You're entitled to human rights simply because you are alive

Opinion: You're entitled to human rights simply because you are alive

The notion of fundamental and universal human rights belong to everyone who breathes, irrespective of nationhood says Redi Tlhabi.

Popular articles
[WATCH] Internet search for talented singer Nosipho is over...she's been found!

[WATCH] Internet search for talented singer Nosipho is over...she's been found!

Khabazela shares tweets and Facebook posts that have gone viral.

How RMB went from 'too poor to buy a photocopier' to the largest bank in SA

How RMB went from 'too poor to buy a photocopier' to the largest bank in SA

Bruce Whitfield sat down with GT Ferreira, Laurie Dippenaar and Paul Harris, the inspirational founders of Rand Merchant Bank.

10 advertisements that broke the internet in 2018

10 advertisements that broke the internet in 2018

Some were good, some were great, many were just plain awful. They all went viral.

Former school patrol guard acquitted of all sexual abuse charges

Former school patrol guard acquitted of all sexual abuse charges

Johannes Molefe was accused of abusing dozens of children from the AB Xuma Primary School in Soweto last year.

Popular shoe brand Vans ask Ackermans to remove "knock-offs" from shelves

Popular shoe brand Vans ask Ackermans to remove "knock-offs" from shelves

Vans' brand manager says although this is a recurring problem its main concern is that this particular "fake" is a very close copy.

 'Having a senior official call Lindiwe Sisulu a prostitute is undiplomatic'

'Having a senior official call Lindiwe Sisulu a prostitute is undiplomatic'

Mail & Guardian Africa editor Simon Allison says its undiplomatic for a Rwandan official to call Sisulu names.

[Watch the latest adverts] Do you agree? Chicken Licken is the boss of Nando’s!

[Watch the latest adverts] Do you agree? Chicken Licken is the boss of Nando’s!

Chicken Licken’s latest ad flame-grills the most recent one by Nando’s, says Nicholas Kühne of Wunderbrand.

'Evidence is solid. Poor people’s money was used illegally. Shivambu benefitted'

'Evidence is solid. Poor people’s money was used illegally. Shivambu benefitted'

Ray White interviews Pauli van Wyk, an investigative journalist with Scorpio at Daily Maverick.