Tshilidzi Ratshitanga (Chairperson) 07 DECEMBER 2009, DURBAN

Ladies and gentlemen I bring you warm fraternal greetings from the trustees of Bokamoso. The hour has come for us to bow. We relinquish our posture to salute the spirit of Musa Chabane. We pause our breath to embrace the spirit of KK Papiyana. Our memory is ignited by the wisdom of Thami Rubusana. These are the gallant cadres who gave Saspu relevance. Their physical self is no more, but their influence structures our advancements to this day. Keep them in your hearts when you deliberate about the restoration of Saspu.

Saspu was formed by young men and women who believed that it was important to organise students at tertiary institutions who study media and broadcasting. Unlike the hypocrites who swell the ranks of most media houses in our country, the founders of Saspu were honest in observing that the media graduate will leave tertiary after having been influenced by the objective conditions that prevail in their classrooms, which shape the positioning of their institutions and mostly by the content of their educators. They wanted to participate in this educating process, so as to challenge the status quo and liberate the mind of the Saspu members. As a result Saspu adopted the agenda of the progressive forces that were at the centre of the liberation struggle. Saspu played a pivotal role in the shaping of the discourse of the Congress Movement.
Many years later, and more than a decade after South Africa attained freedom, most agree that Saspu cannot die. Saspu cannot die because the media graduate that hails from most tertiary institutions has fallen to the intellectual mission of others. We hear this mission when we wake up in the morning and listen to the ANC or government bashing morning drives. We are greeted each week by newspaper headlines whose only agenda is to shame black excellence.

This consistent image culminates into summarised barbarism of our leadership at the weekend when the mission is sealed by cartoons that depict them as creatures. There is very little balance with this cartooning of people like creatures. It doesn’t matter how many of the other side are in the news for ugly terrors, such as with the messeneraries, brought home by our government after shortening their stay in prison for treason; such as with Tannebum, when will he be bestowed the highest valued criminal award? Reutanbuch, you can name them. Have you ever seen cartoons that depict them like creatures?

The point ladies and gentlemen is that the media space in South Africa has no balance; the graduate is influenced in one biased direction. These graduates swell the ranks of our media houses. Saspu cannot die!

Bokamoso is elated to be at this meeting where we believe you will chart a way forward to re-launch Saspu and work tirelessly to revive its structures at all tertiary institutions. Others believe that Saspu left a vacuum when it ceased to organise at higher education. The reality of the matter is that no amount of inaction generates a vacuum. What may exist is the absence of an agenda. However, new agendas always occupy the space vacated by others.
Agendas are permanent; the question is whose purpose do they serve? Saspu must be in charge of the agenda of tertiary media students. We want to witness the emergence of a graduate with conscience, a graduate that will celebrate depth over sensation; who will devote their energies towards sharing the truth and not giving a one-sided view of the world outlook. This graduate is awol, we need to resurrect her and spread her work across the printing presses, the television and radio waves, the internet, blogs, all over the mediums that shape perception.

There is a fallacy that has been opportunistically paddled by those within our society who are intent to maintain the social construct that served as the policy blueprint of the apartheid regime. The hit men and women loyal to this fallacy will have us believe that the primary role of democracy, and by extension a democratic media landscape, is to cater mainly for minorities and their interests. The majority are cast as bullies who use the advantage of their numbers to violate these defenceless minorities, and out of this dishonest posture comes an intellectual blackmail that compels all media to lose balance in favour of minorities.

The truth is that media is only relevant to the extent that it serves as an honest mirror of society. This society of ours, ladies and gentlemen, has close to 90% of its population as a historically disadvantaged group. It has about 96% of its publicly listed wealth in the hands of a racial minority previously responsible for gross violations against the majority of our people. It has media ownership patterns that are a far cry from the image of our society, again in the unequal interest of our minority. In other words this media serves to protect the minority, casting aspersions to the rest of society, the majority!

Saspu’s historical mission has been precisely to challenge this. This objective was also energetically embraced by progressive white compatriots who swelled the ranks of Saspu in the eighties as critical cogs in the machinery against apartheid. They did this out a conscience that refused to racialise justice and accord it an un-just expression in society. They did this because they understood that the interests and aspirations of the majority cannot be a stepchild in the definition of justice.

Fellow compatriots, there is a majority within our society which is out there waiting for their story to be told, their democratic expectations to be interpreted and actualised, and yearns for an unashamed champion to speak on their behalf. The formation of Saspu was not an accident of history ....its collapse was the accident. The disappearance of Radio Freedom was an off-ramp from our revolutionary highway; its re-emergence will be saluted.
Together with Sasco and Cosas, Saspu is one of the three founding organisations of Bokamoso. Bokamoso has been hard at work engaging former Saspu comrades about the re-awakening of Saspu. We are happy to see so much progress has been made and we will remain close to the processes towards the re-launching conference next year. We have a lot to catch up with each other about and will spend time with the next Saspu leadership formulating the future of our relations.
We wish you fare well with your deliberations. Chart the way that will liberate our discourse. Be the torchbearers of truth once more.

Long Live the spirit of KK Papiyana Long Live!
Long Live the Spirit of Musa Chabane Long Live!
Long Live the wisdom of Thami Rubusana Long Live!
Long Live Saspu Long Live!

Tshilidzi Ratshitanga
Bokamoso Chairperson

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