South Africa is slowly but gradually becoming a community of writers of their own history. The book reviewed today is an exclusive account of what was wrong outside this borders when 'comrades' were trying to sort things out inside. It is a story everyone should read.


The African National Congress' erstwhile Umkhonto we Sizwe has been an army plagued by tribalism from the moment it was formed in the 1960s. Which might explain what is happening in the country right now, as juxtaposed with the trial of former deputy president Mr Jacob Zuma. All these details come vivid in a 272 page book titled Umkhonto we Sizwe, Fighting for a divided people, authored by former cadres Thula Bopela and Daluxolo Luthuli, published by Galago Books.

The book, is more of a memoir of the two men from the time they joined MK in 1963, just two years after "the people's army" was formed. The authors have no holy cows as they expose the weakness of the ANC leadership in exile in relation to addressing cadre complaints like when they accused former MK commander and later Minister of Defence the late Mr Joe Modise of tribalism. They write, "During a visit by commander-in-chief Joe Modise, a cadet from Johannesburg, Vincent Khoza, stabbed and wounded Alfred Khombisa. When asked why he had stabbed him Vincent explained that he had really wanted to kill Joe Modise. Khombisa just got in the way of the knife when he tried to separate Comrade Joe and Vincent"

They later relate a sad story of what happened to Vincent, "Vincent and some comrades deserted Kongwa Camp (Tanzania) in 1967. This was after Joe Modise sent Patrick Mosedi on a mission to the Eastern Front in Rhodesia where he was killed. Patrick was a close friend of Vincent and he believed he had been launched - an MK expression for being sent on a mission of no return"

The book also explores the birth of the much hyped Xhosa Nostra. It is filled with names and all. However what makes this book an important historical contribution is that they always remember to mention who did not take part in the ethnic tensions that characterised MK in exile.

They mention a time when a commander they call Zola Zembe (real name Archie Sibeko) was regularly convening late night meetings of Xhosa speaking cadres and that however another Xhosa named Zola Bona (real name Zola Skweyiya) never attended such meetings.
One can argue that the two cadres had tribal inclinations when they joined MK. Much so with Luthuli later becoming disorientated with the ANC after his release from Robben Island in 1980 and joining the Inkatha Freedom Party and later its feared Caprivi trained hit squads. Bopela and Luthuli's story is in short a tale of what went wrong in the ANC leadership struggle outside of this country's borders and how such is impacting on what is happening right now.

Now Lt-Col Daluxolo Luthuli was honoured by the South African National Defence Force in 2003 while Thula Bopela disappeared into the private sector. Theirs is a story of two men who went beyond their call of duty in serving whoever master had their soul at any given time. The book is a worthy read as it also explores the heroics of martyrs like Chris Hani and other forgotten heroes of the country's struggle.

If you are serious about wanting to know if Zuma will be acquitted in the corruption case in the event of the National Prosecuting Authority recharging him or if the succession struggle in the ANC in will be hard fought or mellow, buy this book and read it to the last page. It is a story well told - the closest you will come to an objective analysis of the ANC.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Dear Commentator

Kasiekulture encourages you to leave a comment and sensitize others about it. However due to spammers filling this box with useless rhetoric that has nothing to do with our posts we have now decided that to comment you have to go to our Facebook Page titled THE Kasiekulture BLOG. We will not authorise any comments. Apologies for the inconvenience.