Remember when Nelson Mandela walked out of prison on February 11, 1990. I know for some people he never went to prison. I know where I was: watching it with my parents and siblings in our living room of our council house on Cape Town’s Cape Flats. This week, the BBC radio program, “Reunion,” got together a number of the key players–Apartheid spy Niel Barnard, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, academic Willie Esterhuyse (who acted as liaison between the Apartheid regime and the ANC), journalist Allister Sparks and the ANC’s Aziz Pahad and Thabo Mbeki (yes him)–to reminisce about the events. There’s a bit of rainbowism, 20/20 vision but also some hard truths. It’s worth listening to.

The only person unable to come to terms with his past is Niel Barnard.  Go figure.

* BTW, that’s Mcebisi Skwatsha, now a major and controversial player in Western Cape provincial politics, looking like a 20 year old on the right. Is that Hilda Ndude on the left and Bulelani Ngcuka obscured behind Mandela’s fist?

5 thoughts on “FREE NELSON MANDELA

    • Finally got a chance to listen to the whole thing. Nothing new here except for the digs at Barnard by Tutu and Sparks. Pretty much a rehash of the flattened/simplified and wrongheaded narrative that portrays the ANC and the NP as if they had a clear plan of how to move the country towards a non racial democracy.

      I laughed at Barnard’s claims that his instructions were to prepare Mandela to be president and that the NIS knew of the communication between Mandela and the ANC. What rubbish! Their goal was to isolate Mandela and work out some type of deal with him. Only when they came up against the granite wall of the man’s integrity did they reluctantly include the ANC. Of course on the other side, Mbeki and Pahad try to pretend that the ANC was in control of the whole thing.

      The fact of the matter is that both the ANC and the NP were reacting to three key forces: the UDF led internal opposition; Mandela; external pressure. But I guess that’s how history gets written – a simplified, flattened narrative.

  1. I take your point, but the ANC was always going to claim victory. In a way they confirmed some of your own thesis: this was/is elite pacting. There they were going on about what whisky they consumed etc. And treating matters for which people died as jokes. I momentarily cut the whole lot some slack, and of course everyone was fudging. But I thought Barnard (and De Klerk who pretended he knew of nothing–to buttress his own account of how he later saves the day) were really disengenuous.

    • You are absolutely right Sean. I’ve always wondered about who got played in the pacting process: was the NP really out-negotiated(played) by the ANC? Apart from the conspiracy theories, does the former leadership of the NP wield any power currently? I know that economic power is still very much in white(non ANC) hands, but I’m not sure that those are neccesarily NP hands.

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