The Defiance Campaign was a joint operation between the ANC, a predominately black African organisation at the time, and the combined South African Indian Congresses of the Transvaal and Natal, using the tactic of passive resistance. As such it was an important milestone in the gathering unity of South Africans behind the ANC, in keeping with the Three Doctors’ Pact, and it has meaning today, when unity under the ANC remains crucial.
The original June 26th stayaway was a protest against the Suppression of Communism Act. As such it represents the unity between the ANC and the SACP.
Both of these prior events were part of the build-up to the Congress of the People, and the signing of the Freedom Charter on 26th June 1955. The Freedom Charter Campaign was more than a document. It extended over years. The subsequent four-year Treason Trial struggle was part of it. So was the anti-pass campaign that was set by the ANC to start on March 31st, 1960 but which was disastrously hi-jacked by the PAC on 21st March of that year with terrible consequences, including the banning of the ANC and the subsequent opening of armed struggle by Umkhonto we Sizwe.
The way to understand the Freedom Charter is not to use it as a set of tick-boxes, the way our opponents do, only awarding a better score.
The way to understand the Freedom charter is as part of history.
That history includes the role of the Indians, and the role of the communists.