Obituary (2): Hamba kahle comrade Bobo Makhoba (1975-2016)

Hamba kahle comrade Bobo Makhoba (1975-2016)
BY: Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front – ZACF

The ZACF is saddened to learn of the passing away of comrade Bobo Makhoba in Soweto this Thursday 29 September, at the age of 41, after a long illness. He is survived by his son, to whom we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences – as we do to the rest of his family, friends and comrades.

Bobo was a founding member of the ZACF as well as one of the original guerilla electricians for the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee’s Operation Khanyisa campaign, which illegally reconnected thousands of households’ electricity after it was cut off for non-payment – forcing Eskom, the state electricity utility, to scrap arrears for thousands of Sowetans.

Born in KwaNongoma in KwaZulu Natal, Bobo first became involved in politics and struggle in high school, where he joined the Pan African Students Organisation.

He became involved in social movements and community struggles when he joined the SECC, soon after it was established in 2000, and later served as the organisation’s organiser and then co-ordinator.

He first came into contact with anarchism in 2002 during the mobilisations around the UN’s World Summit on Sustainable Development and soon thereafter established the Shesha Action Group (SAG). Based in Dlamini, Soweto – where Bobo lived – the SAG ran a study group and community food garden, as well as some of its members being active in the SECC and social movements, and was one of the founding collectives of the ZACF in 2003.

The SAG was unfortunately not very long-lived, its members dispersed and Bobo later moved toward Marxism and joined a small Trotskyite organisation but we maintained mutual respect and comradely relations. Although we saw less of him in later years we were always happy to run into him at demonstrations, where he would still ask to fly our red and black flags, or at Careers Centre in Soweto, where the SECC has its office.

Comrade Bobo Makhoba will be remembered as a dedicated and struggle-hardened working class militant who believed in direct action and grassroots organisation and made important contributions both to the ZACF, notably its model of township organising adopted in the early 2000s, and the struggle of the black working class in South Africa.

We find consolation in the belief that Bobo would not have wanted us to mourn his death, but rather for us to strengthen our resolve in the struggle of the exploited and oppressed majority against capitalism.

For our fallen comrades not a moment of silence – but a lifetime of struggle!
Long live the fighting spirit of c’de Bobo, long live!

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IMAGE: Bobo Makhoba at the Founding Congress of the ZACF, Johannesburg, 1 May 2003

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IMAGE: C’de Bobo (with flag) at the “Reclaim June 16” demonstration in Soweto, 2009
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About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I am currently also involved in union education and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented papers at more than 120 conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 3 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and written well over 130 other articles, papers and entries. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have several books, including 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014) and 'Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism' (co-written with Michael Schmidt, AK Press 2009).