|In the early 1950's,
a "radical" group
called the Congress Alliance came together and formed the Congress
of the People. This was an organization in South Africa to fight
for the rights of the people for a new South Africa. They developed
a list of thousands of demands for a new government, among which
were basic freedom rights involving personal rights, housing, work,
security, and equal free education. All these demands were brought
together, and on June 26, 1955 in Kliptown, S.A. the Congress of
the People created the Freedom Charter.
for the Charter had provoked a great deal of police interference where
many people were arrested and thrown into jail. Under gun point from
intruders the delegates managed to adopt the Charter clause by clause,
in hopes of freedom.
The existing government thought the Charter signified a communist
act. Most of the leaders were thrown into jail for communist treason.
This Charter was more than a bunch of requests however. It signified
the intense need for change, and in order for any of the demands to
come about, the whole nation of South Africa would have to change.
It calls for a transfer of power from a single social class to the
people, and in order to do this the whole economic and political set-up
of present South Africa needs to be broken. The Charter was their vision
for the Future. It was a call for the same rights as every other people
in every other nation.
" Congress of the People, 1955."
The Freedom Charter
Adopted at the Congress of the People, Kliptown, on 26 June 1955
South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and
that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based
on the will of all the people;
people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and
peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality;
country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live
in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities;
a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure
to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex
we, the people of South Africa, black and white together equals,
countrymen and brothers adopt this Freedom Charter;
pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor
courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.
and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as a candidate
for all bodies which make laws;
shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country;
of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex;
of minority rule, advisory boards, councils and authorities shall
be replaced by democratic organs of self-government .
be equal status in the bodies of state, in the courts and in the
schools for all national groups and races;
shall have equal right to use their own languages, and to develop
their own folk culture and customs;
groups shall be protected by law against insults to their race and
and practice of national, race or colour discrimination and contempt
shall be a punishable crime;
laws and practices shall be set aside.
wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored
to the people;
wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be
transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;
industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of
shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture
and to enter all trades, crafts and professions.
of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land
re-divided amongst those who work it to banish famine and land hunger;
shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams
to save the soil and assist the tillers;
of movement shall be guaranteed to all who work on the land;
have the right to occupy land wherever they choose;
shall not be robbed of their cattle, and forced labour and farm prisons
shall be abolished.
shall be imprisoned, deported or restricted without a fair trial;
No-one shall be condemned by the order of any Government official;
shall be representative of all the people;
shall be only for serious crimes against the people, and shall aim
at re-education, not vengeance;
force and army shall be open to all on an equal basis and shall be
the helpers and protectors of the people;
which discriminate on grounds of race, colour or belief shall be
shall guarantee to all their right to speak, to organise, to meet
together, to publish, to preach, to worship and to educate their
of the house from police raids shall be protected by law;
be free to travel without restriction from countryside to town, from
province to province, and from South Africa abroad;
permits and all other laws restricting these freedoms shall be abolished.
work shall be free to form trade unions, to elect their officers
and to make wage agreements with their employers;
shall recognise the right and duty of all to work, and to draw full
women of all races shall receive equal pay for equal work;
be a forty-hour working week, a national minimum wage, paid annual
leave, and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full
pay for all working mothers;
domestic workers, farm workers and civil servants shall have the
same rights as all others who work;
compound labour, the tot system and contract labour shall be abolished.
shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement
of our cultural life;
cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free exchange
of books, ideas and contact with other lands;
of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and
their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace;
shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children;
Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by
means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of
shall be ended by a mass state education plan;
shall have all the rights of other citizens;
bar in cultural life, in sport and in education shall be abolished.
shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed,
and to bring up their families in comfort and security;
housing space to be made available to the people;
prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no-one shall go hungry;
health scheme shall be run by the state;
care and hospitalisation shall be provided for all, with special
care for mothers and young children;
be demolished, and new suburbs built where all have transport, roads,
lighting, playing fields, creches and social centres;
the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be cared for by the
and recreation shall be the right of all:
locations and ghettoes shall be abolished, and laws which break up
families shall be repealed.
shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and
sovereignty of all nations;
shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international
disputes by negotiation - not war;
friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the
equal rights, opportunities and status of all;
of the protectorates Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland shall
be free to decide for themselves their own future;
of all peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall
be recognised, and shall be the basis of close co-operation.
all people who love their people and their country now say, as we