Mr Ngcobo
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Interview with
Lucky Sthenjwa Horace Ngcobo
A teacher at Mpophomeni High School

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Political Involvement:

I think the first realization of political orientation was when I attended a meeting in Lamontville Township in Durban that was addressed by Rev Xundu in his church. This was in 1984 and I was 14 years old. During my stay in Lamontville I came to know about the United Democratic Front and its relationship with the African National Congress. I also came to know about other political organizations and political leaders who were dead, jailed or exiled. From then on I became very active in politics. In the following years at school I was elected to the then UDF aligned Student Representative Council. 

As the UDF was a front it operated by formulating youth organizations in the townships. I was one of the first members of Imbali Youth Organization. And I was elected Deputy Chair of the Ashdown Youth Organization and we spearheaded the march against the institution of “White nominated Township Council”, the Municipal Bus operation and other township activities. In 1985  we organized a major student protest. We were demonstrating against the visit of Piet Koornhof (I think he was then Minister of Education)  

At school we used to strike about certain things (e.g. the release of arrested comrades) There would be men from the township who would come armed with weapons of all kinds to force us into the classroom. Later we found out that they were Inkatha Members.

From that time the situation changed from demonstrating against and resisting white rule to fighting with Inkatha. 

One of the first main incidents of such fighting took place when the Imbali community boycotted the bus operation. A lot of people died and others lost their taxis and houses. Soon after that Inkatha invaded my township. After numerous bloodless confrontations  the whole thing became a war. People were dying left and right. During this time I went into hiding because I had no home after it was destroyed by Inkatha.  Also the Special Branch Police were looking for many of us. Many of the Youth leaders died during these confrontations. 

I managed to write my matric in 1989 and then enrolled to do teacher training. The previous political situation and activities in our country affected me a lot. I lost relatives, friends, comrades, property and sometimes a sense of being human.  It affected me in ways that are “unwordable” sometimes. 

Effectiveness of the TRC:

Before looking at whether the TRC has been successful in bringing about reconciliation among the divided races, communities and groupings in our country, I think it is important to give credit and ovation to the formulation and establishment of such a body. This shows the political will to address, redress, heal and reconcile wedges created by apartheid in this country. 

Broadly speaking the TRC is achieving its goals although some individuals are not happy with it. The problem with such people is that they look at the TRC as a political tool to either get revenge or benefits of some kind. 

The TRC, ex-President Mandela and Bishop Tutu are the pillars of Reconciliation and Peace in our country. These people made me see the need to forgive all those who were politically responsible for tearing my life apart. Surely I have done this but forgetting is difficult to do. This is because whichever direction I turn to look I still see things that remind me of oppression, suffering and death. It becomes obvious that through fate one is destined to live with these haunting images till the dying day. If this is the case, so be it.