Ciskei: Ten Years on Human Rights and the Fiction of "Independence"

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A decade ago, on December 4, 1981, the South African government declared that the Ciskei, an arbitrarily defined area in the south east of the country, had joined three other "national states" in receiving "independence." No other state recognizes the independence of Ciskei or of the other homelands. For the following nine years, more than a million black South Africans, unilaterally declared to be citizens of the new "state," were subjected to the brutal rule of "President for Life" Lennox Sebe. In March 1990, Sebe was overthrown in a bloodless coup by Brigadier Oupa Gqozo of the Ciskei Defence Force, and for a brief period it seemed that the residents of Ciskei might enjoy political freedoms. This hope was dashed within a few months, as old style repression, characteristic of Ciskei under Sebe returned.

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