It is hard to know exactly what Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota was thinking when he launched his premeditated attack on President Cyril Ramaphosa as a “sellout” in parliament this week. The paths of Ramaphosa and Lekota crossed in the 1970s as a result of their shared participation in black consciousness politics. Lekota, however, was four years older, and already a part of the national leadership of the movement. Ramaphosa was a young student whose contribution to the struggle was at that stage mostly confined to the backwaters of the University of the North. When security police rounded up more than 200 black consciousness activists in a countrywide sweep in September 1974, Ramaphosa was too junior to be targeted. Ultimately just 12 senior leaders, including Lekota, Jackie Selebi and Saths Cooper, would be prosecuted in the “black consciousness” or “Saso” trial that dragged on from January 1975 to April 1976. Displaying bravery and resilience in the face of isolation...

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