Libmonster ID: UK-1361
Author(s) of the publication: V. G. SHUBIN

V. G. SHUBIN, Doctor of Historical Sciences Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: N. Mandela, African National Congress, South Africa, Umkonto we Sizwe

20 years ago, on May 9, 1994, members of the National Assembly of the Republic of South Africa, formed by the results of the first general elections in that country, unanimously elected Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela as President. For us, the few Russians who were invited to this meeting, it was deeply symbolic to watch on our Victory Day how all the deputies, including those who defended the apartheid regime with weapons in their hands, supported his candidacy.

Indeed, such a vote signified both a political and moral victory for the South African African National Congress (ANC) and its leader, won as a result of decades of liberation struggles that took place in various forms - mass, underground, armed, and diplomatic.


Only a few months did Nelson Mandela not live to see the 20th anniversary of this victory. His passing on December 5, 2013 caused a wave of sympathy and deep regret around the world. Dozens of heads of state and Government and other prominent figures gathered for the funeral ceremonies. So, both the current president and three former ones arrived from the United States. It was Barack Obama and President of the Cuban Council of State Raul Castro who were essentially the main speakers at the December 10 memorial rally at the Johannesburg stadium.

Russia was also represented with dignity, although not at the highest level - Valentina Matveenko, the Chairman of the Federation Council, arrived in South Africa. She is not only the third highest person in Russia under the protocol, but also has a direct relationship to South Africa: it was when she was the head of the Russian part of the Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation, this committee finally started working*.

Condolences were also expressed personally by President Vladimir Putin during his visit to the South African Embassy in Moscow [1].

Mandela's death caused a lot of reactions among politicians and, of course, in the media, but his views and actions were often distorted. As one of my South African colleagues put it when portraying Mandela, "the media doesn't want to move away from the Western version of the Barbie doll," or, to paraphrase a well-known expression, they paint it "black and fluffy."

Quite popular, including in our media (if they really were "ours" - after all, according to Vyacheslav Nikonov, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Education, "62% of the media belong to non-Russian citizens!" [2]), arguments about his transformation from a "terrorist" to a "peacemaker" have become quite popular".

It is no exaggeration to say that Mandela's death highlighted the ignorance and squalor of a number of Russian "pen masters", not to mention their blatant racism. The record among them was broken, perhaps, by the well-known citizen Yulia Latynina: "If you do not choose expressions, you can say that South Africa is ruled by a black monkey," although immediately, realizing, obviously, that she was too presumptuous, she added that Russia is also ruled by monkeys, but white. She also claimed, speaking on Ekho Moskvy, that "when Mandela was caught, he did not deny that he was a terrorist" [3]. Not far from it, the seemingly more "civilized" Konstantin Eggert, who rose to the post of editor-in-chief of the Moscow bureau of the BBC Russian Service, also left. However, unlike Latynina, he did not justify apartheid, but argued that "the methods used by the ANC were by any measure terrorist "[4].

Obviously, neither Latynina nor Eggert even bothered to read Mandela's speech at the trial (in 1964), where he clearly expressed his position and that of his organization, the ANC:"...The violence we chose was not terrorism. ...There were four possible forms of violence. There is sabotage, there is guerrilla warfare, there is terrorism, and there is open revolution. We decided to adopt the first method and use it completely before making any other decision" [5].

Indeed, the targets of the Mandela-led fighters were strategic facilities and institutions of the racist regime. And even later, when ANC fighters conducted hundreds of operations in South Africa in the second half of the 1970s and 1980s, the number of civilian casualties was minimal.

Causes, to say the least, bewilderment and the statement of Eg-

* It is regrettable to note, however, that Sergei Naryshkin was sent to attend the recent funeral of Ariel Sharon, who even a commission appointed by the Israeli Government in 1983 found personally responsible "for ignoring the danger of bloodshed" when he actually contributed to the killings in the Palestinian refugee camp. in Lebanon a few months earlier.

** Kate Gottschalk to the author, December 19, 2013 vol.

page 6

Gert says that the last 20-plus years of Mandela's life "were a complete negation of the first 70" [4] - his biography shows the opposite.

Mandela said that he was "just an ordinary person who became a leader because of the circumstances."

The main milestones of his biography are well known : growing up in a village in what is now the Eastern Cape province, although in a noble family by local standards; leaving (or rather fleeing) in 1941 to Johannesburg to avoid a marriage arranged by relatives; working as a caretaker in a mine, and then as a trainee clerk in a law firm; He studied first at the University of Fort Hare, which was created for Africans, and later received a bachelor's degree in absentia from the University of South Africa, and finally studied law at the University of Witwatersrand. Then came the creation, together with Oliver Tambo, of the first African-led law firm in the country, and in parallel, since the mid-1940s, active participation in political life: first in the ranks of the ANC Youth League, and then in the "adult" organization.

Although Mandela initially opposed cooperation with non-Africans, in 1952 he led a campaign of defiance against racist laws, organized jointly by the ANC and the Indian Congress of the country, as the "main volunteer", and was first sentenced to prison, albeit on probation. In the same year, he was elected head of the ANC organization in the Transvaal and its first vice-president on a national scale, but soon the authorities declared him a "banned person". Thus, Mandela officially lost the opportunity to engage in political activities, but, of course, continued it.

An important milestone in his life, and in the history of the South African liberation movement as a whole, was the "Treason Trial", which began in 1956 after 156 prominent opposition figures, including Mandela, were arrested on December 5, 1955. In the end, all of them were acquitted, but only after five years! By that time, the ANC and the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), which broke away from it in 1959, were already banned, and a state of emergency was imposed in the country.

This happened after the police shooting of African demonstrations on March 21, 1960, which marked a watershed in South African history. Although the ANC and its Congress Alliance allies continued to maintain nonviolence in the political struggle even after this tragedy, the following year, after the authorities forcibly suppressed an attempt to hold a general strike, Mandela and other ANC leaders, in cooperation with the South African Communist Party (SCCP), created Umkonto we Sizwe ("Umkonto we sizwe").Spear of the Nation) - an armed organization that later became known as the Congress People's Army.

The Umkonto manifesto clearly stated: "We hope, even at this late hour, that our first actions will help everyone understand that the policies of the [then-ruling] National Party are leading to a disastrous situation. We hope that we will bring the government and its supporters to their senses before it is too late. " [6]

And the ANC managed to "bring the government to life", although it took three decades of struggle in various forms, including armed struggle.

Shortly after the first Umkonto combat operations, Nelson Mandela illegally traveled to independent African countries to provide material support for the struggle that had begun and to organize military training for activists (he also visited London). One phrase from his letter to his comrades about this trip, which later fell into the hands of the police, particularly deserves our attention: "Collecting money is a time-consuming job. You must be prepared to wait. Trip to the Socialist countries (emphasis added) it has become an urgent necessity" [7].

In August 1962, shortly after returning to South Africa, Mandela was arrested on a" tip-off " from the CIA, [8] and sentenced to five years in prison for illegally crossing the border and calling for a strike. He was then put on trial again, along with other leaders of the ANC, UACP and Umkonto, who were arrested in July 1963 during a police raid on their underground headquarters on a farm in the Rivonia district, on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

What followed was the Rivonia trial, in which Nelson Mandela became " Defendant No. 1." His speech, which he delivered before the judge handed down a sentence of life imprisonment, went down in world history - "I fought against White supremacy. I fought against black supremacy. I cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live in harmony and with equal opportunities. This is the ideal I hope to live for and achieve. But if necessary, it is an ideal for which I am willing to die [5].

During the long 27 years of his imprisonment, Mandela gradually became a symbol of the struggle against apartheid-thanks to both his steadfastness and the fact that, at the call of fellow ANC members, a powerful campaign was launched around the world for the release of South African political prisoners, and at the same time, Mandela's name was called first, as well as at the trial.

It took more than two decades for the then South African leadership to understand the inevitability of negotiations with the ANC. Since 1985, his emissaries have been visiting Mandela in prison, trying, however, not so much to understand what the real goals of the leader of the liberation movement are, but (above all) to influence him, to "soften" him, for example, to agree to release on condition of giving up the fight.

Mandela did not refuse these meetings (and there were more than 30 of them) and even decided to hold them without the knowledge of other ANC leaders who were in prison. But he stressed in a "Document" he sent from prison to the then President of South Africa, Peter Botha, that "no prisoner, regardless of his status or influence, can conduct negotiations of this kind from prison... My task is very limited-to give two main policies:-

* The Congress Union, established in 1954, brought together progressive organizations of all racial groups in South Africa, and their program was the "Charter of Freedom", adopted a year later at the Congress of the People (editor's note).

page 7

of the country's executive body at the negotiating table " [9].

The "negotiations for negotiations" that began, initially closed, led to the lifting of the ban on the ANC, Um-konto we Sizwe, the Communist Party and some other organizations on February 2, 1990, and the release of Nelson Mandela on February 11.

At the first congress of the ANC after the ban was lifted, held in Durban in early July 1991, Mandela was elected its president.

It was then that I first met him. I remember his words: "Without your support, we wouldn't be where we are now." But there was also a disturbing note in our conversation, and this was due to the postponement of Mandela's visit to the USSR. "Gorbachev must have had a good reason for postponing my visit; I found out about it when I was already halfway there, in Nigeria."*

Mandela was invited to Moscow immediately after his release, but the trip was postponed several times. At the time, the reasons were purely technical, but Anatoly Chernyaev, Gorbachev's assistant for international affairs, wrote later: "Gorbachev had some kind of nose for promising and" unnecessary " figures... He "rewound" his meeting with Mandela... Gorbachev did not believe that by feeding the ANC and supplying it with weapons, we were promoting what was right in South Africa. I did not stop this case "by inertia", my hands did not reach it. And he understood that it was one thing when Mandela was received even in Washington, and another thing - in "red" Moscow, suspected of expanding communism "[10].

This" nose " failed Gorbachev - Mandela became president and remained a deeply respected person even after voluntarily refusing to run for a second term. And Gorbachev, after his inglorious resignation ,was" written off "by the figures who seemed" necessary " to him.

Nevertheless, Mandela did visit Moscow, but only in 1999, when he was already making "farewell" trips abroad on the eve of leaving the post of president. In addition to official events, at his insistence, he visited the Mausoleum of V. I. Lenin and met with the leader of the opposition Communist Party, although this was not mentioned in the official message.

During his stay in Moscow, the long-running issue of receiving the Lenin Peace Prize, awarded back in 1990, was also not resolved. It was awarded only three years later, in 2002, and not in the Russian capital, but at the residence of the Russian Ambassador in Pretoria***.

It is worth quoting the words of Mandela at the ceremony:"...By accepting the Lenin Prize, we do so in the spirit of human solidarity. I am grateful to everyone for the honor of awarding me the prize named after a revolutionary whom history will never forget" [11].

Mandela's personal life was not too simple either. The marriage to his first wife, Evelyn, lasted just over a decade. During the divorce proceedings, she accused him of infidelity, including evidence of his connections with Lilian Ngoyi, a prominent activist in the ANC Women's League, and Ruth Mompati, secretary of the aforementioned law firm and later a prominent member of the ANC leadership.

And the second marriage was not a happy one. Winnie Mandela was far from the ideal wife to be faithful to her imprisoned husband. At the trial, Mandela stated that even after his release from prison in 1990, he was "the loneliest person", that Winnie never came to his bedroom when he was awake [12].

But family happiness and peace still came to Mandela in the last decade and a half of his life. On the day of his 80th birthday, he officially registered a marriage with Graca Machel, the widow of Mozambican President Zamora Machel. As Mandela said then: "I don't regret [past] failures, because at the end of my life, I blossom like a flower, thanks to the love and support she gave me." [13]


Mourning ceremonies were accompanied by eulogies for Mandela, but it was not always believed in the sincerity of their utterers.

So, Barack Obama said that when he learned about Mandela and "the struggle in his country", he, "while still a student", felt "my responsibility to others and myself", and this inspired him "on an incredible journey that led me to where I am today" [13]. But that didn't stop him, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron, from happily chatting with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the funeral ceremony for Mandela, to the obvious annoyance of the American president's wife. Obama did not find it necessary to apologize for the "surrender" of Mandela by American intelligence to the racist authorities in 1962, nor for the fact that until 2008 Mandela was listed in the United States as a "terrorist".

And the British Prime Minister, although he ordered the flag to be lowered at half-mast over his Downing Street residence, "forgot" that the Federation of Young Conservatives in the mid-1980s distributed a poster "Hang Mandela", and he himself made a trip to South Africa in 1989 at the expense of a firm that lobbied against the introduction of sanctions against a racist regime.

Mandela's demise has put an end to rumours and controversies about his membership in the South African Communist Party. "At the time of his arrest in August 1962, Nelson Mandela was not only a member of the then clandestine South African Communist Party, but also a member of the Central Committee of our party," the South African Communist Party said in a statement. For us, as South African Communists, Comrade Mandela will always symbolize the significant contribution of the UACP to our liberation struggle... After his release from prison in 1990, Comrade Madiba (Mandela's clan name, more respected among Africans than his surname. - Author's note) he became a great and close friend of the Communists until his last days.

His path to this was quite difficult. In the Manifest

* A conversation with N. Mandela. Durban, 3 July 1991

** One of the readers of his self - revealing opuses, "the nasty old geezer", spoke harshly but fairly about him (author's note).

*** At the same time, Mandela was awarded only the" attributes " of the award-a badge and a certificate, but not its financial content. I can, however, testify that the ceremony was organized by the then Ambassador to South Africa, the late Andrey Anatolyevich Kushakov, with dignity.

page 8

The ANC Youth League, of which Mandela was a founding member, clearly had an African "exceptionalism": "We believe that the national liberation of Africans will be achieved by the Africans themselves... we can borrow... of foreign ideologies, but we reject the wholesale importation of foreign ideologies into Africa." Mandela admitted later: "This was an implicit rebuke of the Communist Party, which many of us considered a foreign ideology unsuitable for the situation in Africa" [14, p.115].

However, the joint struggle against the apartheid regime, familiarity with Marxist literature led to a gradual change in his views. Much later, he said:

"...I found a strong attraction to the idea of a classless society, which I believe is similar to traditional African culture, where life was shared and communal. I joined in with Marx's basic dictum, which has the simplicity and generosity of the Golden Rule: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

Dialectical materialism proved to be a searchlight illuminating the dark night of racial oppression, and a tool that could be used to end it... Marxists paid serious attention to national liberation movements, and the Soviet Union, in particular, supported the national struggle of many colonial peoples. This was another reason why I changed my view of Communists and adopted the position of the ANC, which welcomed Marxists into its ranks. " [15]

It is safe to assume that a special influence on Mandela during this period was exerted by Walter Sisulu, who at that time, along with the Secretary General of the UACP, Moses Kotane, was one of the top three leaders of the party.

However, Communist Party veteran Ronny Kasrils, who served in the Mandela government as Deputy Minister of Defense (and then as Minister of Intelligence Services), said in an interview after the UACP statement that "there are no documents to definitively prove this "[16].

Indeed, in South Africa, they usually refer only to conversations with some veterans. However, there is documentary evidence, and not just anywhere, but in the State Archive of the Russian Federation. We, Russian historians, often complain (and rightly so) about the closeness of our archives, but we have to note that even open materials often turn out to be unexplored.

Only in 2000, a few years after the partial declassification of the documents of the Soviet Committee of Solidarity of Asian and African Countries (SCSSAA), Maxim Sivograkov, then a graduate student at the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, discovered (I admit, with my own submission) a note sent from this committee to the Central Committee of the CPSU, where permission was requested to provide assistance (in very modest amounts - 100 foreign currency rubles, i.e. $ 111) for ANC delegates at the Conference of Asian and African Writers held in Cairo in February 1962. And among these delegates was a member of the UACP - "Nelson Mandela". But, of course, neither Maxim nor I would divulge this information until our South African friends themselves made this fact public.

We can agree with R. Kasrils that" it is not so important " [16] whether Mandela was a member of the UACP more than 50 years ago, or not. More importantly, when they left the Communist Party for one reason or another (and all four presidents of democratic South Africa were members of its leadership at one time or another), they did not become hostile to it.

* * *

The birthday of the "last hero of the XX century" - July 18-was proclaimed by the UN in 2009 as the International Day of Nelson Mandela [17], the motto of which was his words: "We can change the world and make it better. You can contribute to it."

Nelson Mandela himself did it.

1. stom-20 - 21-vekov-7230/. It is difficult, however, to agree with his phrase that" in terms of scale, he [Mandela] is certainly comparable to such giants as Mahatma Gandhi and Alexander Solzhenitsyn " - they are too different personalities (author's note).

2. Rossiyskaya gazeta. March 22, 2012 - 2012/03/22/vybor.html

3. One of the listeners of this program spoke well: "Latynina is not very healthy (my personal opinion), and it is not worth putting her on the air at all" - 08/against_racism/

4. Eggert Konstantin. Mandela's death won't touch the hearts of Russians - 131206_blog_eggert_mandela.shtml

5. Nelson Mandela's Statement from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the Rivonia Trial - show.php?id=3430

6. Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwc Leaflet issued by the Command of Umkhonto we Sizwe. 16 December 1961 -

7.Cit. by: Strydom L. Rivonia Unmasked! Johannesburg, Voortrekkerpers. 1965, p. 108.

8. New York Times, 10 June 1990 - http://www.nytimes. com/1990/06/10/world/cia-tie-reported-in-mandela-arrest.html. Recently, a student in the United States sued the CIA, demanding that the relevant documents be made public (

9. The Document [B. M., B. G.], p. 1.

10. Chernyaev A. S. Six years with Gorbachev, Moscow, 1993, p. 195.

11.Cit. by: Tetyokin V. N. Afrikanist. M., 2011, p. 354 (Tetyokin V. N. Afrikanist. M., 2011.) (in Russian).

12. South African Judge Gives Nelson Mandela a Divorce // The New York Times, 20 Match 1996 - http://www.nytimes. com/1996/03/20/world/south-african-judge-gives-nelson-mandela-a-divorce.html

13. Graca Machel on Mandela: "I learned to separate the man from the myth" // The Guardian, 6 December 2013 -

14. SACP Statement on the passing away of Madiba // Umsebenzi on line. Vol. 12, No. 43, 6 December 2013 -

15. 76/nelson-mandela-on-marxism-and-the-relationship-between

16. From Marxism to Neoliberalism: Ronnie Kasrils on How Mandela & ANC Shifted Economic Views - nnie_kasrils



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