Hlanganani Basebenzi: A Brief History of COSATU

Twenty years ago in Durban, on December 1, 1985, a giant was born: the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Today our federation has become the standard-bearer for South Africa's workers. Here, we take time to recall our history, to reassess our ideas, and to reaffirm our commitment to defend the working class. The story of COSATU is, above all, the story of our country's working class. It tells a long, hard story, spread over hundreds of years of colonial and capitalist oppression and exploitation. It tells a story of pain and resistance, of victory and joy. Our working class was forged in the fires of restrictions tied to colour and race, bound by harsh lines of gender oppression, and twisted by brutal demands for profit for a few and the barest survival for most. Families and villagers were forced off their lands and into labour. Men and women planted sugar in Natal; grew grapes in the Cape; dug diamonds in Kimberley; mined gold on the Rand. They sweated on railroads and docks, over machines in factories. Some taught in schools and tended the sick in hospitals. Our struggle today - our experiences and our beliefs, our demands, our strategies and tactics - has been nourished in this hard red soil. This accessible publication is written in layman's language so as to give readers of all ages a solid grasp of COSATU'S history.