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Via Mandela

R.W. Johnson

5 January 1989
Higher than Hope: ‘Rolihlahla we love you’ 
by Fatima Meer.
Skotaville, 328 pp., R 15, July 1988, 0 947009 59 0
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... NelsonMandela, incarcerated for over a quarter of a century, writes frequently to his wife, Winnie, about his vivid and often rather frightening dreams.   I dreamt I was with the young men of the kraal. They ...

Diary

Stephen Gray: In Johannesburg

5 April 1990
... causes. The sitting of parliament was open, the challenge made. He meant it. And, in the same room, where Future World undoubtedly cut his first tooth, a fortnight later we also saw that photo of NelsonMandela and him together – the first photo of Mandela in 27 years. They were like two propped-up grandfathers, both smiling awkwardly at the camera. They were disposed as if we were to make a ...

Six Bombs

Jeremy Bernstein: South Africa’s Nukes

9 January 2014
... NelsonMandela was released from prison on 2 February 1990. On 26 February F.W. de Klerk ordered the dismantling of a South African nuclear weapons programme which very few people knew existed. At the time the ...

Rivonia Days

R.W. Johnson: Remembering the trial

16 August 2007
The State v. Nelson MandelaThe Trial That Changed South Africa 
by Joel Joffe.
Oneworld, 288 pp., £16.99, July 2007, 978 1 85168 500 4
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... a foolish decision, though one with which, as a young South African, I was wholly in sympathy), collided head-on with an Afrikaner nationalism still at its muscular zenith. The result was that NelsonMandela and seven of his co-defendants were sent to jail for life – between 22 and 27 years, as it turned out. Much about the trial was grossly unfair. It was held in Pretoria, the citadel of ...
19 April 1990
... At an enormous ‘peace’ rally in Durban at the end of February NelsonMandela called upon the warring Inkatha and UDF factions to ‘throw your arms into the sea’, an appeal which met with considerable applause. Perhaps the loudest ovation of all, however, came when Mandela ...

Chevril

J.D.F. Jones: Novels on South Africa

11 November 1999
Ladysmith 
by Giles Foden.
Faber, 366 pp., £9.99, September 1999, 0 571 19733 7
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Manly Pursuits 
by Ann Harries.
Bloomsbury, 340 pp., £15.99, March 1999, 0 7475 4293 7
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... at least 12,000 Africans were dead: Anglo-Boer relations would not recover for a century. The centenary, one gathers, has been celebrated in the new South Africa with a certain diffidence. What could NelsonMandela or his successor really contribute to the occasion? The English South Africans had been triumphant for a time, and had the wit to extend the hand of friendship to their enemies in the Union ...
22 June 1995
... This was, in its way, a very reassuring sign, for it was clear that for those van Tonder represents the Boer War is still going on, just as it always has, and that even the arrival in power of NelsonMandela has not disturbed their way of thinking. A little later, van Tonder applauded the Government’s decision to remove the names of Afrikaner Nationalist premiers from all the country’s ...
9 July 1992
... inevitably plunged into debt by the 1973 oil crisis.) Twelve years on, Zimbabwe’s debt is such as to place the economy under World Bank control. Not long ago I was at a lunch meeting addressed by NelsonMandela where Rian Malan asked Mandela how white fears of what African nationalism would do in South Africa could be assuaged in the light of the record of African nationalism in the rest of the ...

Mandela: Death of a Politician

Stephen W. Smith: Mandela, the Politician

9 January 2014
... border raids into neighbouring countries, the destabilisation of Southern Africa, and the ‘bush wars’ in Angola and Mozambique. As we have been told time and again since he died on 5 December, NelsonMandela was instrumental to the political bargain that proposed forgiveness in the hope of a better future. Whatever we think of South Africa now, we still contemplate with horror the abyss into ...

Into Africa

J.D.F. Jones

19 April 1990
My Traitor’s Heart 
by Rian Malan.
Bodley Head, 349 pp., £14.95, April 1990, 0 370 31354 2
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... to dig in the archives for Dawid Malan; I looked in the mirror and there he was.’ And again: ‘In truth I was always one of them. I am a white man born in Africa and all else flows from there.’ NelsonMandela is free. F. W. de Klerk declares the end of apartheid and the dawn of democracy. Has this book been overtaken? Does it still have relevance in this new age? Can it be helpful to go into these ...
21 February 1991
... which has cost some five thousand lives in Natal and on the Reef since 1985. Whether the truce will hold and whether it will stem the creeping ethnicisation of black politics remains to be seen. But Mandela’s public embrace of Buthelezi has inaugurated a new and intense phase of politicking within and between the two organisations. With Inkatha now poised to play a major role alongside the ANC in the ...

Diary

Mary-Kay Wilmers: The Menopause

10 October 1991
... Darwin (or Einstein or Metternich) I might have been able to accept the arrangements that marriage entails a little more gracefully. In the Eighties, long since divorced, I decided that marriage to NelsonMandela (or Terry Waite) would have suited me fine. When The Female Eunuch came out in 1970 the man I was married to bought me a copy (clearly he can’t have been the cause of all my troubles). But ...

The End

Angela Carter

18 September 1986
A Land Apart: A South African Reader 
edited by André Brink and J.M. Coetzee.
Faber, 252 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 571 13933 7
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Where Sixpence lives 
by Norma Kitson.
Chatto, 352 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3085 7
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... guilt, the self-loathing, the sheer demoralisation of much of this fiction were the predominant mood of the real South Africa, not just of its fictional representation in the pages of A Land Apart, NelsonMandela would be prime minister before the year was out. In the Afrikaans section, the narrator of Elsie Joubert’s story, ‘Back Yard’, says: ‘I live on the periphery of an existence which I ...

Hands Full of Rose Thorns and Fridge Oil

Elizabeth Lowry: ‘Triomf’

20 January 2000
Triomf 
by Marlene van Niekerk, translated by Leon de Kock.
Little, Brown, 444 pp., £16.99, November 1999, 0 316 85202 3
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... and where a holiday hardly registers on your credit card. The Anti-Apartheid Organisation has been disbanded. Fergal Keane has packed up his microphone and gone home. In Trafalgar Square, a beaming NelsonMandela casts a paternal eye over the lobby of South Africa House. Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been signed up by Heinz to carol ‘Inkanyezi Nezazi’ in an advertisment showing ...

Short Cuts

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Gordon Brown

7 June 2007
... the Nuremberg Trials as retroactive justice. In Brown’s book, there isn’t a page that anyone would find controversial or objectionable, unless there are places where Raoul Wallenberg and NelsonMandela are despised. The treatment is anodyne even when there might be scope for detached assessment. Now that not one person in a hundred who passes Edith Cavell’s statue opposite the National Portrait ...

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