SA reads discussion

14 views

Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Part 7


message 2: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) I've had Lileasleaf on my list of places to visit for a while now. This is the week - I have no excuse, it's a 10 minute walk from my house.


message 3: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Week Five's blog-post is: I AM PREPARED TO DIE.

http://www.johnmountford.com/blog/


message 4: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Carolien wrote: "I've had Lileasleaf on my list of places to visit for a while now. This is the week - I have no excuse, it's a 10 minute walk from my house."

Take your camera and post us a pic on the group home page.
I know Rivonia well from my time in Jo'burg - I lived there for 6 months. Lovely area.


message 5: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 155 comments I am surprised that things worked out as well as they did for Mandela and the other accused. Had they been sentenced to death, the history of South Africa would likely be very different. Would someone else have stood up and carried on the fight as Mandela did? Likewise, if Mandela had not made his statement to the court, would things have turned out differently? If the sentence would have been the same regardless, I wonder if his statement impacted the struggle later on. One quotation in particular struck me: “I was the symbol of justice in the court of the oppressor, the representative of the great ideals of freedom, fairness, and democracy in a society that dishonored those virtues. I realized then and there that I could carry on the fight even within the fortress of the enemy.”

I am overall rather ignorant of South African history, so this is all speculation on my part, and maybe some answers will be revealed as I read on. The autobiography is taking on the tones of a thriller, in my opinion, as we move into this segment of Mandela's life.


message 6: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Sarah,
Mandela's statement in the dock made little impact on the duration or nature of the struggle that lay ahead for the ANC. It was only once the struggle was almost complete that his words, as a banned person, were allowed to be published. He was indeed a symbol of justice, and his words were eloquent and powerful; but I suspect that had he been executed his influence on the outcome of the struggle would have faded over the next 27 years. It was the living Mandela, on Robben Island and eventually free, that changed the course of history. Even he, however, could not have imagined as he stood in the dock how valuable his life was to be one day.


message 7: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments I chuckled at Mandela's account of his experience with prison clothing.
Being properly (and fashionably) dressed was important to NM. The beautiful African print shirts that he wore at every opportunity after his release from prison became his fashion signature.
This highlights the disgust and acute embarrassment he experienced in having to wear khaki shorts and sandals in prison, and even once in court. He was prepared to spend weeks in isolation for the privilege of wearing long pants.
Dignity was paramount for him, and being properly dressed was an important part of that dignity. He was an unusual man.


message 8: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) One thing that struck me is how short his actual married life to Winnie was. They were married in 1958 and in 1961 he went underground. They saw each other occasionally thereafter and then during prison visits which were very rare once he was on Robben Island. They were separated within 2 years of him coming out of prison. So there was a very high personal price to pay at the end.


message 9: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Carolien wrote: "One thing that struck me is how short his actual married life to Winnie was. They were married in 1958 and in 1961 he went underground. They saw each other occasionally thereafter and then during p..."

Yes, he never had the opportunity to enjoy a normal family life - something that is clear from the book that he bitterly regrets. More than his physical freedom, this is the most valuable thing, one feels, that apartheid stole from him. It forced him to become an outlaw, and a jailbird. I feel deeply sorry for him. Thank goodness he knew the love of a good woman during the last years of his life.


message 10: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) We spent the day in Newtown today. We went to the Sci Bono science centre and my theory was that we would spent about 3 or so hours there. We arrived just before 11am and left at 16:30 and my daughters would still be playing there if they could.

The main reason for the visit was so that my husband and I could take turns and walk across the road to Museum Africa where there is a massive display of photographs called The Rise and Fall of Apartheid. The cast of characters of Long Walk to Freedom is represented in the pictures. One of the first photographs is of Jongintaba. His photograph is in a book which was used as an example of early photographs of black persons.

There are some absolutely stunning photographs. There is a whole series taken at the Sharpeville massacre that left me speechless. One of my favourite photographs was of a black WWII veteran wearing his medals at some random event in Mafeking in 1980. There's an interesting picture taken at Steve Biko's funeral showing the open coffin.

There are lots of pictures taken during the Defiance campaign and the Treason Trial. What shocked me was a series of pictures taken in the middle 1980s. I was a child at the time, but these pictures were mainly at the funerals of large groups of people (20 plus) in places like Uitenhage and Alexandra. The Cradock Four's funeral is another in the series. These events seem to have become history, but very seldom commemorated.

If you are in Joburg, go see the exhibition. It's free and open until end of June.


message 11: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Carolien wrote: "We spent the day in Newtown today. We went to the Sci Bono science centre and my theory was that we would spent about 3 or so hours there. We arrived just before 11am and left at 16:30 and my daugh..."

I'm green with envy, Carolien. Thanks for letting us know about the exhibition - I might come up to see it and combine the trip with research I need to do on the book I am writing at the moment. Do they allow photographs of the displays?


message 12: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) They're not very fussy at all so it probably isn't a problem. In any case, there is a photograph library as part of the museum. If I can I want to get back there once I have finished the book.


message 13: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 78 comments Sarah wrote: "I am surprised that things worked out as well as they did for Mandela and the other accused. Had they been sentenced to death, the history of South Africa would likely be very different. Would some..."

I'm finding the "thriller" element in my reading, too. I wonder if that's because I know that Mandela did survive, but I've never known any of the details.


message 14: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 155 comments This is all new territory to me--Mandela, and South Africa in general--and that contributes to the suspense I feel while reading. Knowing that he survived definitely adds to the thrill, I think!


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 155 comments Carolien wrote: "We spent the day in Newtown today. We went to the Sci Bono science centre and my theory was that we would spent about 3 or so hours there. We arrived just before 11am and left at 16:30 and my daugh..."

How incredible! I would love to see this exhibition! Thanks for sharing this with us!


message 16: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 78 comments On page 372, the beginning of chapter 57, "Two days before Judge de Wet was due to give his decision, the U.N. Security Council (with four abstentions including Great Britain and the United States) urged the South African government to end the trial and grant amnesty to the defendants." Why did the U.S. and Britain abstain? I find this reprehensible, and I wonder if there were any "good reasons" for their abstentions?


message 17: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) I suspect that it was mainly because the SA government was regarded as a reliable ally by those 2 governments in their fight against communism. Much though we would like to think we were important for our own sake, SA was very much a pawn in the hands of the main players in the Cold War.


message 18: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 78 comments Although there are many references to Communism here, I had completely forgotten the whole Cold War scenario. Mandela's underground life, imprisonment, and trial are all going on at the same time as Cuba, the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy and Kruschev issues. The end of his trial is coinciding with Lyndon Johnson's first few months as U.S. President, I think. (spring of 1964?) Thanks for pointing this out to me, Carolien!


message 19: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Carolien wrote: "They're not very fussy at all so it probably isn't a problem. In any case, there is a photograph library as part of the museum. If I can I want to get back there once I have finished the book."

I've been a few times- to see the cave paintings, the salvaged township and the mine stuff. It's a really cool museum. Sounds like an awesome display.


message 20: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "I am surprised that things worked out as well as they did for Mandela and the other accused. Had they been sentenced to death, the history of South Africa would likely be very different. Would some..."

I keep thinking that the judge gave a reason for not imposing a death penalty- not wanting more bloodshed perhaps. If it's here, I missed it.

Imagine preparing yourself for death. Saying 'I am going to die for my beliefs' and having complete peace. Lots of guts!


message 21: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 78 comments Lisa wrote: "Sarah wrote: "I am surprised that things worked out as well as they did for Mandela and the other accused. Had they been sentenced to death, the history of South Africa would likely be very differe..."

The only "reason" that the judge gave was "The state has decided not to charge the crime in this form [high treason]. Bearing this in mind and giving the matter very serious consideration I have decided not to impose the supreme penalty which in a case like this would usually be the proper penalty for the crime, but consistent with my duty that is the only leniency which I can show." I guess that because they were not tried for high treason, he would not impose the high treason penalty?

I remember, Lisa, a bit earlier in the book where the warder told Mandela not to worry about sleep because he'd be getting plenty later, and Mandela's reply was that we will all be getting plenty of sleep later. I think that when we seriously realize that death is at the end of every life, and that we have the oppportunity to come to the end with integrity it does come easier. Not easy, mind you! but easier.


message 22: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Karlyne wrote: "Although there are many references to Communism here, I had completely forgotten the whole Cold War scenario. Mandela's underground life, imprisonment, and trial are all going on at the same time ..."

Thanks Carolien and Karlyne for filling in the gaps nicely here.


message 23: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) Karlyne wrote: "Lisa wrote: "Sarah wrote: "I am surprised that things worked out as well as they did for Mandela and the other accused. Had they been sentenced to death, the history of South Africa would likely b..."

As far as I know, the State decided to charge them under the Sabotage Act and not The Treason Act because it was easier to proof (or the onus of guilt was simpler) and it carried the same penalties as treason.

He could impose the death penalty under the Sabotage Act as well, but he chose not to do so. His main reason seems to be that there was no proof that the final plan had actually been implemented. The first person to be hanged by the Apartheid government was a white man, John Hughes, who had planted a bomb in Park Station in the a Whites Only section and I think he was charged under the Sabotage Act as well.


message 24: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 78 comments I didn't think his comment made much sense, but I can only imagine the stress of being the judge at such a trial!

Do you know what year that first hanging was, Carolien?


message 25: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) About the same time, 1963 I think.


message 26: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 78 comments And it's not mentioned in LWtF (later on, I mean)? There was so much going on in the world then that "world affairs", unless directly related to their case, just muddled their story. Although I suppose that's always the case, isn't it? And that's why this is such a compelling book, because it is so personal.


back to top