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Black People's Convention

The Black People's Convention (BPC) was founded at the end of 1972 as the Nationalist Liberatory Flagship of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) in South Africa. The BCM was a product of three historicultural and ideological imperatives:

a) Black students were tired of the hypocrisy of white liberal college/university students of apartheid South Africa. The South African Students Organisation (SASO) originated Black Consciousness and Bantu Steve Biko was its founding President in 1969.

b) Blacks were undermining reactionary tribalist/national chauvinist/sexists divide and rule by white racialist settler-colonial governments since 1910 and earlier.

c) Young people globally were taking their part in the international radical/revolutionary militancy of the mid- and late 1960s. This tendency was a legacy of the Congress Youth League led by Muziwakhe Lembede, the Unity Movement of South Africa and the Mangaliso Sobukwe-led Pan-Africanist Congress that linked continental and global working-class struggle with South Africa's national oppression of Black people.

The BPC was founded by the Black communities from various ethnic and national groups in South Africa, excluding white Europeans. The BPC went farther than the ANC's civil rights integrationist agenda and agreed with the Pan Africanist Congress on "National Land" repossession. They went further by espousing scientific socialism under the guise of "Black Communalism".

When the BPC was gaining ideological hegemony over the leadership of Blacks in the country, Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi was given permission by the apartheid government to go to London and meet the ANC leadership. Later he formed the Inkatha Cultural Movement, claiming allegiance to Black Consciousness but "not communism or socialism".

Bantu Steve Biko was the first among equals in the leadership of the BPC, although he was legally not a member as he was outlawed or banned in March 1973. That restricted him to his home from 6pm till 6am and he was not allowed to belong to any political or social organisation. The BPC was to the South African Student Organisation ((SASO)) South Africa's Black Consciousness Movement the same role that the Black Panther Party (BPP) was to SNCC and the Black Power Movement.

The BPC was resurrected in 1978 and was renamed the Azanian People's Organisation (AZAPO). In exile from 1974 onwards BCM activists and organisers re-built the movement as the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania (BCMA) and in 1980, became the external wing of AZAPO, with an interim executive leadership committee.

In 1981 the founding National Organiser, Mosibudi Mangena was nominated to be the Chairperson of the Botswana Region of the BCMA and later by 1983, a motion was moved asking the Botswana Chapter to invite other external branches to dissolve the BCMA Interim Committee. This was done and Mosibudi Mangena was elected in 1983 Chairperson of the BCMA in exile. Mangena is, since 1996, President AZAPO in post-apartheid South Africa.

The three factors that led to BPC founding its ideology can be found in the indigenous African culture of resistance. The ideology is no further from the Convention People's Party of Ghana and the politics not unlike that of the Black Panther Party - hence the Black Peoples Convention.

In the years after the Soweto Uprising of 1976 black consciousness declined was marginalized as a political force in South Africa, as the ANC demonstrated that it could both opportunistically put a guerilla army in the field against apartheid as well as lead a new wave of liberal accommodationist and capitalist collaborationist mass organisations, such as the United Democratic Front. Organisations previously associated with black consciousness either were hijacked by political careerist to gravitate towards the ANC's position (e.g. AZASO, Institute of Contextual Theology) or effectively became alternative, although marginalized, core of cadres with consistency like AZAPO 's President Mosibudi who is Minister of Science and Technology in Thabo Mbeki's Cabinet and earlier been Deputy Minister of National Education. Also Azapo as parliamentary representative, Pandelani Nevelofhodwe, MP and former Robben Island prisoner.