Why May Day matters to Botswana

No Image

When we celebrate May Day we rarely reflect on why it is a public holiday in Botswana or elsewhere. *SIAN BYRNE, PALIANI CHINGUWO, WARREN MCGREGOR and LUCIEN VAN DER WALT tell of the powerful struggles that lie behind its existence, and the organisations that created it and kept its meaning alive

May Day, international workers day, started as a global general strike commemorating five anarchist labour organisers executed in 1887 in the USA. Mounting the scaffold, August Spies declared:'If you think that by hanging us, you can stamp out the labour movement - the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil and live in want and misery - the wage slaves - expect salvation - if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread upon a spark, but there, and there, and behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.'

Anarchist* roots
May Day's roots in the revolutionary workers' movement are often forgotten. It arose from the anarchist movement - anarchism is often misunderstood. Anarchists like Spies wanted society to be run by the ordinary workers and farmers, not capitalists or state officials. In place of the masses being ruled and exploited from above, society and workplaces should be run through people's councils and assemblies, based on participatory democracy and self-management.
Anarchism was a global mass movement from the 1870s, including in the USA. Its stress on struggle from below for a radically democratic socialist society appealed to the oppressed in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Americas.

Editor's Comment
Has life become worthless?

As many wondered what wrong the young boy could have done to end up killed, it emerged that his own cousin was a suspect in the murder after he claimed P50,000 from Botswana Life. Thato Tsametse, who was last week sentenced to death for the murder of his cousin, had reportedly taken out two Mmoloki Funeral Covers valued at P25,000 each.Over the years, the media has been covering the murder case, and some revelation has come up that certain...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up