Nelson Mandela 1918 - 2013

Ken Keable's initial thoughts on hearing the news of the death of Nelson Mandela.

I am watching the BBC News Channel, which is devoting all its time to the subject.

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Message of condolence

Message of condolence
to Nelson Mandela’s family and the South African people

Alex and Marie-José are two of the London Recruits. Their heroic story is told in the book.

Nelson Mandela is gone.A period of struggle was accomplished, it has ended, the curtain has fallen and the role of Madiba passed into History.

During the period of struggle where his name dominated and personified it, his name became an emblem that inspired his comrades in arms, as well as those who discerned through him a better horizon for South Africa.

Among the founders of Umkhonto we Sizwe – The Spear of the Nation, the armed wing of the liberation movement – he appeared as the Commander-in-chief, despite the fact that for many years he had been imprisoned on Robben Island, not far from Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope.

In that whirlwind, we were caught by the struggle against apartheid. Our vision of the fight was different. For us it was a class struggle on an international level – where the oppressed class was characterized by the colour of the skin – and also as a form of anti-colonial struggle, or said otherwise, a national liberation struggle.

In this framework, we as communists had been invited to fight alongside South African communists and others who were not. The victory over apartheid was the culmination of a stage where we fought side by side. Our object was to eliminate the exploitation of man by man, but for that we first had to go achieve the elimination of apartheid and nameless racism. That stage, “our stage”, was completed in 1994 when the ANC took power and Nelson Mandela took his place as father and unifier of the South African nation.

Now that the guide will only be present in memory, the people of South Africa, the South African workers of all colours and of all cultures will be alone responsible for their destiny.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to the great family of Nelson Mandela and the South African people who have just lost a great statesman.

Alexander and Marie -José MOUMBARIS

Umkhonto we Sizwe veterans


Enthralling podcast

Here is an enthralling podcast of a meeting held at the Bishopsgate Institute, London, on 4 June 2013. Collectors of oral history should collect this! The panel of speakers consisted of Ronnie Kasrils, Ken Keable, Mary Chamberlain, Katherine Levine and Tom Bell and there are contributions from other Recruits who came from the audience, including John Rose, Bob Newland and  Graeme Whyte as well as the two YCL officials who were recruiters, George Bridges and Bob Allen.

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When London became the recruiting centre in the battle against apartheid

This article by Ken Keable appeared in the Guardian "Comment is free" section on 24th August 2012.

After Nelson Mandela and other leaders of the African National Congress were jailed in 1964, almost all ANC members who were not in prison or under severe internal restriction had to go into exile to evade arrest and torture.

Once out of immediate danger, they then had another problem: how could they continue the struggle against the apartheid regime? How could they show the people that the ANC was not defeated? The ANC's four-man London leadership found an answer. They began recruiting young, white, non-South African men and women, unknown to the regime, who could enter South Africa without arousing suspicion. I was one of those London recruits.

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Re-living the South African struggle in London

Re-living the South African struggle in London. Danny Schechter wrote this article in the Epoch Times about the meeting organised in 2012 by several Recruits who were alumni of the London School of Economics. The LSE authorities were supportive at first but the promised support never materialised, for reasons that have never been explained.

LONDON—Thomas Wolfe wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again” years ago, and its core truth keeps popping up in my life even as I tend to retrace some of my life journeys, in an endless walk down memory lane.

I am back in London, as cold and wet as I remember it, to attend an event honoring those of us at my mid 1960s alma mater, The London School of Economics and Political Science, who went to South Africa on underground missions. I was on the political side of the college’s split personality back in 1966–1968.

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This interesting report by the BBC, about the truck used for the "Secret Safari" arms smuggling operation, somehow manages to avoid mentioning that the drivers and tour guides were all white non-South Africans, mostly British people, acting in solidarity with the ANC.

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