< Back

Leaflet issued by the All-in African National Action Council

3 April 1961


An Appeal to Students and Scholars

Dear Friends,

I am writing this letter on the instructions of the All-in African National Action Council which was established in terms of a resolution passed by the All-in African Conference held at Pietermaritzburg on 25 and 26 March 1961. This conference was attended by 1,500 delegates from town and country representing 145 political, religious, social, sporting and cultural organisations. Its aim was to consolidate unity amongst Africans and to consider the decision of the government to proclaim a republic on 31 May this year. It was the opinion of conference that the government was not entitled to take such a decision without first seeking the views and obtaining the express consent of the African people. Delegates felt that under the proposed republic, the racial policies of the government would be intensified resulting in a further deterioration in the living conditions of our people. In its main resolution conference called upon the government to convene a National Convention, before 31 May this year, of all South Africans, to draw up a new democratic constitution. If the government failed to call the convention before the above-mentioned date, countrywide demonstrations would be held on the eve of the republic to compel the government to do so. The resolution went further to call on the African, Coloured and Indian communities as well as European democrats not to co-operate with the proposed republic or with any government based on force. Finally, an appeal was made to democratic individuals the world over and to foreign governments not to have any dealings with the proposed republic and to apply sanctions against it.

This conference has been acclaimed throughout the country as an important landmark in the struggle of the African people to achieve unity amongst themselves. Its challenging resolution is a stirring call to an action which promises to be one of the most massive and stunning blows ever delivered by the African people against white supremacy.

In its efforts to enslave the African people the government has given particular attention to the question of education. The control of African education has been taken away from the Provincial Administrations and missionaries and is now vested in the Bantu Affairs Department so that it should conform with State policy. Instead of a free and progressive education calculated to prepare him for his responsibilities as a fully fledged citizen, the African is indoctrinated with a tribal and inferior type of education intended to keep him in a position of perpetual subservience to the whites. The matric results last year strikingly illustrated the disastrous effects of Bantu Education and show that even more tragic consequences will follow if the Nationalists are not kicked out of power. We call upon the entire South African nation to close ranks and to make a supreme effort to halt the Nationalists and to win freedom. In this situation all students have an important role to play and we appeal to you to:

  1. Participate in full in the forthcoming demonstrations.
  2. Refuse to participate in the forthcoming republican celebrations and in all ceremonies connected with them.
  3. Popularise the Pietermaritzburg resolution amongst other students, the youth in factories, farms and in the streets, to your parents and relatives and to all people in your neighbourhood.

If you take these measures you will have made an important contribution to the historic mission of transforming our country from a white-dominated one to a free and prosperous nation.

N R MANDELA,
Secretary,
All-in African National Action Council