Mandela and Winnie in a victory March when he left Pollsmoor Prison
Mandela: The Man In Our Eyes
Our Manhood - Our first African President Of Mzantsi(South Africa)
Nelson Rolihlahla "Tata' Mandela passed away today on the 5th of December, 2013, peacefully. He has now joined the pantheon of our erstwhile, sterling and dedicated giants of our struggle alongside leaders like Shaka, Kreli, Moshweshwe, Hints, Faku, Manthatisi, Moselekatse(Mzilikazi), Sekhukhuni, Sekonyela, Bambata, Makana, Luthuli, Jabavu, Mda, Sofasoke Mpanza, Sobukwe, Biko, Tiro, and many others too many to list here.
Mandela did not not stand over and above all the leaders that were mentioned above, but incorporated all what they stood for and fought for the the people of Mzantsi. Built-in into his leadership make-up was a duality that characterized him throughout his life. For us the African people Of Mzantsi, he was known as Mandela(before he went was incarcerated for 27 years in Robben Island.
To the world, he was the best of what we as the people of Mzantsi could offer of the best in all of us. The world loved and respected him for all the qualities befitting a "World King". To us in Mzantsi, he was the best Chief/King and hope of our fears, dread and freedom. We could harldly boast to the the Boers about him, but we, as the kids of the time, knew him to be the leader that was banned from our lives for close to three decades.
He was a cultural Father(Tata) and bearer of our traditions and Customs and an intellectual figure in our hearts and minds that could not be locked up(even though he was exiled into some remote Island off the coast of South Africa); to the world he was an untouchable spirit with true grit, determination and sage ways of handling his detractors and speeches and his incarcerated physical being. Even though a dark and seemingly permanent cloud hung over our heads during his absence, his fighting for us the Africans of Mzantsi was constant and permanent Ray and Light, Hope, Inspiration, Determination, Intelligence , Culture and Customary Continuity, plus Freedom.
There has been much written and said about Mandela, from the days of his struggles in South Africa, up to the time of his life in Orlando West, South Africa, to the time when the CIA helped to get him captured and his being sentenced to Robben Island where he survived for 27 years breaking stones in a quarry nearby bis cell. In Robben Island, he kept the spirits of those arrested with him alive and hopeful, and he doled out the idea that they were going to be free one day.
When the Boers wanted to dehumanize and make us less of men and women, the very thought that he was alive in some teeny-weenie cell, and not dead, meant that we were alive. He spent 18 of his 27 years on Robben Island, and the rest in the prison now known as Pollsmoor. He personified our Manhood and Womanhood. We never saw his pictures nor heard any of his speeches throughout his life that he was jailed.
Even his gaolers got to respect the man and his dignified comportment even under stressful prison condition where they, the Boers, wanted to break him down and make him feel like he was a "boy". This "Boy" tagging of African men in South Africa, was one of the many ways the Apartheid ensured our permanent enslavement and breakdown. We never knew Mandela, and he lived in the adjacent Township of the one I lived in in Orlando West. His Township was called Orlando West, and his house was one and the same as the rest(three roomed house) that Apartheid had built for us.
We grew up with his daughters who had this unusual stigma that they were the children of Mandela, but we partied with them all over the township gigs and festivals. In many cases, they lived in fear, but, we, and most of my cohorts, who were the cadre of the 1976 Student Rebellion of Soweto(see my Hub on this era), did not give a rats-ass as to the Securitas(BOSS-Beureau Of State Security) who were a constant thorn on Winnie and her children's side, and we just kept a normal relationship with them. We knew the risks involved, but we were the fearless fighters who eventually brought the rule of Apartheid and down to its knees.
What Madela meant to us as the Africans of Mzantsi, is what this whole Hub is going to be about. As I have stated at the beginning, there has been much written about him and that is still going to be written about Mandela, but, I have chosen to take tact of talking about Mandela as we grew and got to know, talk, albeit in hush-hush tone, lest the goons of BOSS overheard us, in our various communities throughout Soweto, and the whole of South Africa. But, before I talk about the Mandela that we as Africans knew, I would like to give a quick history/story timeline of the man we got to know and call "Tata", after he was released from Prison. He was truly our African Manhood and Leader/First African President Of South Africa.
Nelson Mandela - A Timeline of his life
NELSON Mandela's passion and commitment to the freedom of his people meant a life of struggle and determination - and inspired millions around the world.
July 18- Rolihlahla Mandela (later Nelson) is born at Mvezo in the Transkei, South Africa. His isiXhosa name, given by his father, formally means “pulling the branch of a tree”, but colloquially means “troublemaker”. His family is descended from Thembu royalty.
Attends a local primary mission school near Qunu, where he is given the name ‘Nelson’ by a teacher.
His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, dies and Thembu paramount chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo becomes his guardian.
Aged 16, he undergoes initiation, the traditional Xhosa rite of passage into manhood. He is given the name Dalibhunga, which means “creator or founder of the council” or “convenor of the dialogue”. Attends Clarkebury Boarding Institute in Engcobo.
Meets his lifelong friend Oliver Tambo, who later becomes president of the African National Congress (ANC).
Attends Healdtown, the Wesleyan College at Fort Beaufort. It is here that Mandela learns boxing, a sport he becomes passionate about.
Enrols at the University College of Fort Hare, in Alice to study for a Bachelor of Arts. Elected to the Student representative Council.
Expelled from University College for political activism. Continues his studies by correspondence.
Escapes an arranged marriage by running away to Johannesburg, where he becomes a mine night watchman. Starts articles at the law firm Witkin, Sidelsky & Eidelman. Meets Walter Sisulu, who later becomes a senior ANC figure.
Completes his BA through the University of South Africa.
Begins to attend ANC meetings informally.
Graduates with BA from Fort Hare. Enrols for a Bachelor of Law at Wits University.
Co-founds the ANC Youth League. Marries Evelyn Ntoko Mase, with whom he has four children: Thembekile (1945); Makaziwe (1947, dies aged nine months); Makgatho (1950) and Makaziwe (1954).
Elected national secretary of the ANC Youth League, which gradually gains power of the ANC. Three years later, he is elected president of the league.
The Defiance Campaign – large-scale demonstrations which flout apartheid laws – begins. Mandela is charged for violating the Suppression of Communism Act. He is sentenced to nine months imprisonment with hard labour, suspended for two years. Opens South Africa’s first black law firm with Oliver Tambo.
The Congress of the People, which consolidated anti-apartheid forces in South Africa, adopts the Freedom Charter, a vision for a united, non-racial and democratic South Africa.
The government arrests 156 people, including Mandela and most of the ANC executive, in response to the Freedom Charter, and puts them on trial for treason. After a five-year trial, all are acquitted.
Divorces Evelyn Mase. Marries Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela. They have two daughters: Zenani (1959) and Zindzi (1960).
March 21 - At least 69 people are killed, and between 150 and 300 injured, in Sharpeville when police open fire on demonstrator protesting against laws which require blacks to carry a pass whenever thy are outside designated areas. The incident becomes know as the Sharpeville Massacre and signals the beginning of armed resistance against apartheid.
March 30 - In the wake of the Sharpeville Massacre, a State of Emergency is imposed and 18,000 people detained. Among them is Nelson Mandela. A week later, the ANC is banned.
The Treason Trial collapses and Mandela goes underground. He helps form the Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), the armed wing of the now-banned ANC.
January 11 - Leaves South Africa for military training and to garner support for the ANC.
August 5 - Arrested near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal. Sentenced to five years for incitement and leaving the country illegally.
Sent to prison on Robben Island. Brought back to Pretoria in July for the Rivonia sabotage trial with nine others after the MK headquarters are discovered.
Mandela is convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He is held at Robben Island, and later at Pollsmoor Prison.
Mandela’s son Thembekile dies in a car accident. Mandela is not permitted to go to his funeral.
Rejects South African President P.W. Botha’s offer to release him if he renounces violence. Has prostate surgery.
December 7 - Is transferred to Victor Verster Prison where he spends the last 14 months of his imprisonment.
February 2 - In the wake of sanctions and unrest, the ANC is “unbanned”, first by a people’s proclamation, then by the government under President de Klerk.
February 11 - Mandela is released from prison after 27 years. Holding the hand of wife Winnie, he gives the gathered crowd a victory salute, then travels to Cape Town, where he speaks to a rally of 50,000 people. “Our march to freedom is irreversible," he tells them. Soon after, he is elected deputy president of the ANC.
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with F.W. de Klerk "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa."
South Africa’s first democratic elections held. On April 27, at the age of 75, Mandela is permitted to vote for the first time in his life. The date is now celebrated as Freedom Day in South Africa.
May 9 -10
Unanimously elected the first president of a democratic South Africa. “Never, never again will this beautiful land experience the oppression of one by another,” he declares at his inauguration.
Divorces Winnie Mandela after 48 years of marriage.
July 18 - Marries humanitarian and Zimbabwean politician Graça Machel, the wife of the late Mozambican president Samora Machel. The wedding takes place on his 80th birthday.
Steps down after one term as president. "I am the product of Africa and her long-cherished view of rebirth that can now be realised so that all of her children may play in the sun," he says in his final speech.
June 1 - Mandela announces he will step down from public life.
January 6 - Mandela announces his eldest son Makgatho has died of complications from AIDS.
Turns 90, and asks the emerging generation to continue the fight for social justice.
Is formally presented with the FIFA World Cup trophy before it embarks on a tour of South Africa. His great-granddaughter Zenani is killed in a car accident.
Mandela's aids call for a halt to the thousands of requests for autographs, endorsements and interviews so his retirement can be a time for peace and tranquility.
January - Is admitted to hospital with a chest infection
June - Is visited at home by American First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia
February - Spends one night in hospital with abdominal complaint
December - Three-week stay in hospital to treat lung infection and for surgery to extract gallstones.
March 10 - Admitted to hospital for routine, age-related medical check.
March 28 - Re-admitted to hospital with recurrent lung infection.
March 30-31 - Responding to treatment well.
April 1 - Doctors in Pretoria removed pleural fluid from his lungs to ease his breathing
April 7 - Discharged from hospital
May 1 - First photos of Mandela in nine months appear.
(Sources: Nelson Mandela Foundation; africanhistory.about.com; http://www.freedom.co.za/madiba.html; www.anc.org.za; nobelprize.org)
The historical timeline above has been presented here as a shorthand for the readers to get a glimpse to the life and times of Mandela over the decades.
The ANC and The formation of PAC Brief History
In order for us to have a much more better picture of Mandela and his actions and protests in South Africa, we need to look back into the history of events and people/leaders that shaped his leadership. This is when we come across a leader called Pixley ka Seme, who in 1912 had graduated from Columbia in 1912 as a lawyer, and Oxford, was evidently inspired by the NAACP in America, and decided that he wanted to do the same for South Africa.
He came back to Johannesburg to set up his practice, and was rudely brought back to the harsh realities of the lives of Africans, after he had gotten used to life overseas, which had afforded him relative openness. In Johannesburg, the White people required that he carry his pass book everywhere he travelled, and he had to travel third class, and had to step off the pavement into the street in order to allow a White person the run of the sidewalk.
Seme and several black lawyers who had also studied overseas decided to take action. They invited African leaders from allover the country to a big meeting in Bloemfontein. Some of the arrivals were the traditional chiefs, while others were organizers from the small emerging class of African professionals.
"We have discovered," Seme told the assembly, "that in the land of our birth, we Africans were treated as the 'hewers of wood and drawers of water'. The White people of this country have formed what is known as the Union of South Africa-a union in which we have no voice in making of laws and no part in their administration.
"We have called you, therefore, to this conference so that we can together devise ways and means of forming our national unity and defending our rights and privileges." The gathering enthusiastically voted to form an organization that would come to be called the African National Congress. "We felt wonderfully optimistic," one delegate said. To us, freedom was only around the corner."
In actions akin to that of the NAACP, the ANC intellectuals and professionals sought to win improved conditoins for Africans through patient petition and lobbying campaigns. ANC delegations travelled to Britain and to the post-World War I peace conference at Versalles to try to win International support. The organization held itself aloof from the African masses and their actions like the 1919 antipass campaign, the 1943 bus boycott in Johannesburg's Alexander Township,or the big 1946 mineworkers strikes.
In 1944, a new generation of young men, who had recently arrived in Johannesburg, founded the ANC's Youth League. Nelson Mandela, who was of the Xhosa Royalty, and a lawyer, along with Oliver Tambo, a high school science teacher, later took law too, set up their practice in Johannesburg with Mandela.
Walter Sisulu, who was thirty at the time, and few years older than both his compatriots, was working in the mines, and a s kitchen servant, and also in the factories; he was a proud and independent man, and regularly clashed with his White authorities, and in the end set up his own real estate enterprise. Then there was Lembede, who was then their unofficial leader, who was a driven and incandescent intellectual. Lembede was a son of a farm laborer,who had worked himself to death at the age of thirty-three.
The Youth Leaguers argued that the ANC had to become more militant, more involved in nationwide mass protest. They charged the organization with 'regarding itself as a body of gentlemen with clean hands': They demanded a more vigorous movement to resist the National Party, which came to power in 1948 promising to reinforce the existing system of racial domination with the even more stern and comprehensive policy of Apartheid.
In 1949, the Youth Leaguers persuaded the ANC convention to approve their Program of Action, which called for strikes, civil disobedience and noncooperation with any member of the regime's institutions. The younger members also replaced the organization's president-general with a more activist candidatePresident, an Orange Free State Doctor named James Moroka, and they elected their own Walter Sisulu, as secretary General.
The ANC moved toward closer alliances with other groups menaced by the stream of Apartheid legislation issued forth from the Nationalist-dominated Parliament. It cooperated with the Indian Congresses and with sympathetic Whites, including some who had belonged to the Communist Party before the regime outlawed it in 1950.
As mass support for the ANC grew, the movement decided to conduct a Defiance Campaign during the 1952. All over the country, Africans, Indians, and some Whites promised to openly and deliberately break certain Aparthedi statutes. The program of mass nonviolent civil disobedience was clearly in the Ghandhian tradition. Mahatma Ghandhi's own son, Manilal, who had remained in South Africa after his father returned to india, was one of the defiers.
Dr. James Njongwe, an ANC leader in the Eastern Cape, where the Defiance was to begin on June 26, emphasized that only disciplined volunteers who had been enrolled by volunteer-in-chief Nelson Mandela or others should participate in the campaign. Dr. Njongwe asked for people who would "submit to arrest willingly and with gladness in the hearts, knowing that theirs was a fight against malnutrition, high infantile mortality, landlessness, deprivation, humiliation, oppression, and against destruction of family life and faith in Christianity as a way of life."
This movement in South Africa used the "Europeans Only" facilities, remained in the center of the cities after the evening curfew for Africans, and entered the "Group Areas" reserved for other "population groups." People in South Africa and the world watched as the singing volunteers marched and walked into jails. By the end of the year, around eighty-five hundred had submitted to areest. The ANC's membership soared to one hundred thousand.
The Apartheid government struck back harshly. It used the classic definition of Communism in its Suppression of Communism Act to ban fifty-two ANC leaders including Nelson Mandela. The regime also passed new penalties for defiance. So that in the end, civil disobedience, and other trivial offenses, were punishable by up to three or five years imprisonment.
In 1956, there was further crackdown; the Apartheid regime arrested 156 leaders of the ANC and other resistance organizations and put them on trial for treason. The case of the prosecution was so inept and useless that all the defendants were eventually either released or acquitted. And yet, this treason trial dragged on for five years, diverting the energies of key ANC leaders and draining the organization's meager resources.
Albert John Luthuli was ANC's President-general, a deeply religious teacher in his fifties, and a hereditary chief of the Zulus, was deposed by the regime as punishment for him leading the Natal ANC Defiance campaign. Luthuli was an imposing man, vey patient and tolerant even to his adversaries. In 1961, he was recognized for his humanity and courage and the way he led his organization that in the end he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, and he was the first man in Africa to be honored with the Peace Prize.
So that, throughout the 1950s, the ANC continued to carry out its Defiance campaign by working steadily with the Indian Congresses, the Colored People's Congress, and he Congress of Democrats, composed of a motley crew of White radicals. It was at this time that the people some serious and deep friendships and unity across racial lines, which was in direct contradiction to the philosophy of Apartheid.
Luthuli was asked how he as a Christian could cooperate with the Communists, which over the years had attracted people like Moses Kotane, J.B. Marks, Yusuf Dadoo and Michael Harmel., which had been declared as an illegal party. In his autobiography Luthuli stated: "
"The Congress Stand is this: our primary concern is liberation and we are not going to be side-tracked by ideological clashes and with witch-hunts." He added: "Communists are people, they are among the number of my neighbors, and I will not regard them as less. ... I am confident enough in my Christian faith to believe that I can serve my neighbor best by remaining in his company."
In 1955, the congress Alliance met at Kliptown, a slum area in Soweto, to draw up the Freedom Charter. the Charter declared that 'South Africa belongs to all who live in it, African or European.' It promised to repeal all Apartheid legislation and replace it with one man one vote and guaranteed Human Rights for all. the Charter also called for social welfare measures in education, housing and so forth.
The only section the West regarded as radical was a pledge to 'nationalize the mineral wealth, the banks, and 'monopoly industry.' But these measures with a promise of land reform, remained vague, at best. And it is ironic today that the ANC has contravened all what the Freedom Charter stood for. This is discussed in some of my Hubs that can be found on ixwa.hub.com.
The PAC(Pan Africanist Congress), disputed the Charter's first sentence. They sated that it is bent and designed toward multiracialism, they were opposed to. In their view(PAC) South africa "belonged" to "Africans", who had to "go it alone" in their struggle for liberation. The most not much known leader in the West and world, but very well-known and liked(more than Mandela) inside South Africa, were both Sofasonke Mpanza[The Father Of Modern Soweto] and Robert Sobukwe.
Robert Sobukwe defined an African as:
"Anyone who owes his loyalty to Africa, who is prepared to accept the democratic rule of the African majority. And his followers characterized anyone not African as foreigners but one who was in South Africa to weaken the authenticity of African nationalism and nationalist with alien ideologies that had limited appeal to the African masses."
This is one part that one needs to write a Hub on because this debate is still going on, now, just as furiously and not yet resolved in South Africa today, amongst the African people.
PAC finally broke away from the ANC and formed PAC with its military wing know as "Poqo". They accused the ANC of being too timid, and they pointed out as to how the ANC lost many battles against Apartheid. They stated that it was unable to stop the introduction of Bantu education or to save Sophiatown, an African town west of Johannesburg City, from being leveled and destroyed...
In 1956, 20,000 women marched to Pretoria, and the regime disdainfully ignored their petitions and extended the vicious pass laws to women, too.. The PAC was quick in realizing the dissatisfaction and the action of the masses, and blasted the ANC for its failure to even support the protest women, and was more inclined and well-tuned to the events that were happening north of South Africa in the African continent and, was buoyed by such revolutions, and PAC was more prepared for radical and militant action against the Boers.
In 1960 both organization, ANC and PAC, declared war against the Pass Laws of Apartheid. the problem with PAC, despite it militant tone, they opted for nonviolent approach to their declaration of war against the passes. That is when Sharpeville happened and sixty-nine people were killed.
There was such a reaction that 30,000, in Cape town marched from the African Townships in protest. The Boers sensed that there was a mood of insurrection, and two weeks later the Apartheid regime outlawed the PAC and ANC. Luthuli was banned and restricted to his house.
Mandela and Sobukwe were arrested(A special law was passed specifically for Sobukwe by the Boers and named after him); Mandela was also arrested and sent to Robben Island. Both organizations fled to Exile, and were not able to return until the 1976 student revolution made it possible for the to come back in 1992 - Mandela got released - Sobukwe died alone in his house under house arrest-and the ANC came into power in 1994.
In the latter par of this Hub, I will return to this historical discourse about how it fits into contemporary South Africa today.
Dislodging Apartheid in south Africa
The Price Of Freedom and Hopelessness of Liberation
When Winnie and Mandela walked hand in hand after his release from doing 18 years of hard labor in Robben Island, and the rest in Pollsmoor prison, the African people of Mzantsi were in a delirium. The euphoria was so intoxicating that the African peoples expectations reached fever pitch. There was general disbelief and unmatched and shocking disbelief that eventually apartheid had relented to majority rule. The people ended up Voting on what was called Freedom day, and for three days with the longest celebrations ever seen in the history and memory of the country.
Many people envisioned themselves going to live in the suburbs, getting better jobs, and reaching the nadir of the lives beyond their wildest dreams. If one or anyone who reads this Hub, has ever been interned in a society that created concentration camps called Townships, akin to the Nazi-types in Germany, one can just imagine the feeling of the Africans of South Africa, who after 400+ years of separate development and Apartheid- the spirit of the oppressed was at long last free in the land of their birth. Mandela held more than hope and promise, and after the vote, people watched in aching anticipation for the change to manifest itself in real terms.
The road to this moment had been long in coming, and the people knew that it was now their time, their county and their government that was going to deliver their expectations and that better and good times lay ahead. This event did not just happen from a vacuum. It had been a long and arduous, painful and tearful struggle to get to 1994.
Too many had died, been tortured and chased into exile for this dream of freedom and self governance to be realized. Although the Africans knew that things will never be the same as before the coming of the colonists, the future was pregnant with hope, for them. With possibilities and a chance to be humans in a land where they were the carriers of water and hewers of wood for the betterment of White people. Now it was their turn to be the masters of their own destiny. Mandela was their entrance in the looming 21st century that was just ahead, and it was no more beyond their reach.