The American public radio network, NPR, asked me to recommend 3 books its listeners could read on Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy. Of course I recommended Long Walk to Freedom and Conversations with Myself. I also included this small book:
There is a tendency to set Mandela apart from the social or political movements that shaped him or to emphasize the mostly nonviolent aspects of the struggles against colonialism and apartheid. But Mandela was a product of the ANC, and that includes its legacy of mass protest and armed struggle. [Spear Of The Nation (Umkhonto WeSizwe): South Africa’s Liberation Army, 1960s-1990s by Janet Cherry] shows that he played a key role in the decision to embark on sabotage campaigns against the South African government and military targets after the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 (where 69 people protesting pass laws, many of them black, were shot by police). In 1962 he traveled to Tanzania, Egypt, Tunisia, London, Morocco and the new states of West Africa to raise money and awareness about Umkhonto We Sizwe, or MK — the armed wing of the ANC. He also did military training in Ethiopia, and learned from Algeria’s successful efforts to oust French colonialists in a long, bloody war. He would be imprisoned in 1964, becoming a bystander to much of the violence, but MK soldiered on for almost three more decades, engaging the apartheid state in a low-level guerrilla struggle. This easy-to-read, little book (156 pages) by Janet Cherry, a former ANC member herself, helps to put these aspects of Mandela’s political personality into context.
Read the full post along with my personal recollections about the first time ever I saw a photographic image of Nelson Mandela here.