PERIOD OF REPRESSION AND A CRISIS IN BLACK EDUCATION 1983-1987  

During period of the crisis in education CALUSA focused on education-related projects such as adult literacy, night school programme for matriculation students, children’s programme, library, and a bursary fund. This was the organisation’s response to the general crisis in black education. The projects were started after the programme for university students collapsed due to harassment and continuous threats to members by security police of the Transkei homeland government.

The organisation’s first project was the library, which was started in 1985. Its first workers were two former students that were expelled from a local high school for their participation in the student unrests of 1985. They volunteered to work whilst they pursued their matriculation studies through private correspondence. Police harassment led to arrest and long periods of detention of the first two workers who were replaced by other youths that volunteered to monitor the library.

The second project was the night school programme, established in 1986, to cater for both teachers that did not have matriculation certificates and general students that wanted to finish their matriculation. Volunteer teachers were obtained from the local schools. Regular winter school programmes were also organised and services of other educationists were solicited, e.g. Professor Jeff Peres, Dr. S. Matoti, etc.

The third programme was the children’s programme for children between six and 16 years. The programme was established in 1986, to nurture the leadership and latent talent. Children were trained to hold meetings, chairing them and engaging in discussions. To inculcate a reading culture, they were encouraged to read children’s books and in turn relate the stories they learnt from the books.

The bursary fund joined CALUSA as an independent programme. It was established independently of CALUSA by some local people, to assist local needy children with bursaries.  The bursary fund joined CALUSA in 1987. Since most of the founders were also members of CALUSA, they decided that it should be part of CALUSA. During its tenure, the bursary scheme offered bursaries to children in the whole of the former Transkei, from junior secondary to tertiary education.

The literacy project was established in 1988, to cater for elderly people from the local hospital and a convent who pleaded with the organisation to also attend to their plight. The project was soon extended to villages of the Xhalanga magisterial district and Engcobo. By 1994, some of the learners in the programme wrote exams under the auspices of the Independent Examinations Board (IEB).

Important to highlight is the fact that the constituency of the organisation during the period of repression was dominated by youth. Youth was interested in education-related activities.

WINDS OF CHANGE AND EMERGENCE OF COMMUNITY STRUCTURES 1988-1995

The military coup of 1987 brought a political change in the Transkei. The attention of the security police shifted away from the activities of the organisation and its members. This created political space. The reburial of King Sabata Dalindyebo in the homeland, from Zambia also marked another milestone in the history of the former homeland. During the reburial General Bantu Holomisa announced the unbanning in the Transkei of the South African banned political parties.

On its part, CALUSA facilitated the formation of the Xhalanga Youth Club (XYC) at the beginning of 1989, which aimed at engaging youth in cultural and social activities. XYC wanted to change the negative image the general public had about youth (the lost generation). The organisation organised debates on topical issues and also presented a play depicting dilemmas of political prisoners when released from prison. In the same year, XYC, CALUSA and Health Care Trust set up a Water Crisis Committee to deal with a crisis of lack of drinking water in Cala.

In 1990, seeing that a lot of community structures were coming up and also collapsing at the same time, CALUSA set up a Training Unit which trained the emerging community structures such as the community development committees (CDCs) that co-ordinated development in localities.

In 1992, CALUSA and Health Care Trust, set up Xhalanga Pre-school Forum, a move that was prompted by emergence of community pre-schools in various villages as well as the problems the pre-schools experienced.

The period of the early 1990s was the period of “rolling mass action” with continuous strikes from teachers, police, nurses, etc. being common in the Transkei. Due to poor communication infra-structure in Xhalanga then, CALUSA could not share these developments with the communities it worked with. This dilemma influenced CALUSA to start internal discussions about a need of a community radio (Vukani Community Radio) in Xhalanga, which was eventually established two years later, and launched in 1996. Vukani Community Radio is currently an independent organisation.

As part of the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE), CALUSA saw the need to adopt and promote a participatory development approaches in its work. This prompted the organisation, from 1995, to actively organise and establish CDCs to enable communities to take charge of their development. CDCs were co-ordinating structures in communities. The first community to work of CALUSA in this regard was Cala Reserve where the first CDC was established. Twelve other CDCs have since been established.

In 1998, CALUSA assisted Cala Reserve to solicit funding from the Japanese International Volunteer Centre (JIVC) to purchase agricultural equipment for communal gardening groups in the area. Cala Reserve used the equipment to purchase another tractor and implements and to sustain itself.

Towards the end of 1999, Lungisile Ntsebeza conducted a study on “Livestock and Production in Xhalanga”, which revealed existence of a land shortage in Luphaphasi and Cala Reserve. At the beginning of 2000, CALUSA started discussions about how to deal with the land shortage. As a consequence, CALUSA started a Land Programme and a year later the programme successfully assisted a group of people from Luphaphasi to acquire a farm at Indwe.

In line with the government’s emphasis on “people-centred development”, CALUSA established a programme on Local Government and Institution Building as a second programme. CALUSA viewed local government as the government sphere closest to communities where people centred development would take place. Workshops on the new local legislation were organised for communities.

CALUSA also assisted in the establishment of Cala Domestic Violence Monitoring Unit, an independent structure dealing with issues of domestic and gender-based violence in Sakhisizwe local municipality.

Importantly, the constituency of CALUSA changed during this period from being predominantly youth into elderly people. As the organisation shifted away from education which attracted youth into rural development programmes, elderly people mostly women came in.