Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 1918-2013

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 1918-2013

Transition: The Magazine of Africa and the Diaspora
IU Press Journals
ISBN: 978-0-253-01854-0
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December 2014 marked a year since the passing of Nelson Mandela—a man who was as much myth as flesh and blood. Transition pays tribute to Mandela’s worldly attainments and to his otherworldly sainthood. Featuring remembrances from Wole Soyinka, Xolela Mangcu, Pierre de Vos, and Adam Habib, this issue assembles Mandela’s staunchest allies—for whom he approached saintliness—as well as his most entrenched critics. Other contributors consider the iconicity of Mandela—including his representations in films; the importance of boxing to his political career; his time studying with the revolutionary army in Algeria; his stance on children’s rights; and even his ill-fated trip to Miami. Whoever you think Mandela was—or wasn’t—this issue is the new required reading.

Published three times per year by Indiana University Press for the Hutchins Center at Harvard University,
Transition is a unique forum for the freshest, most compelling ideas from and about the black world. Since its founding in Uganda in 1961, the magazine has kept apace of the rapid transformation of the African Diaspora and has remained a leading forum of intellectual debate. Transition is edited by Alejandro de la Fuente.

Author Bio

Alejandro de la Fuente is a historian of Latin America and the Caribbean who specializes in the study of comparative slavery and race relations. He is the founding Director of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center and the faculty cochair of Harvard University’s Cuban Studies Program.

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Table of Contents

1 “Of Flesh and Blood”
An introduction from Transition’s new editor, Alejandro de la Fuente

3 The Dance is Not Over
Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka claims Mandela as a semi-divine avatar, but acknowledges the
attendant naïveté—particularly about the depths of human evil—that sometimes came with occupying such a lofty position

14 Saying Goodbye to a Global Icon
Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, suggests that the most respectful way to honor Mandela is to not lose sight of either his political shortcomings or the most difficult demands his humanitarian message makes of us

27 A Critic, in Retrospect
Though one of Mandela’s staunchest critics, Xolela Mangcu is humble enough to admit being star struck by the great man, but still insists on the importance of infusing Mandela’s anti-racial politics with a politics of racial justice and black power

40 Compassion and Corruption
Constitutional law expert and public scholar Pierre de Vos recalls how his life and the lives of countless Afrikaners were transformed by Mandela’s forgiveness, yet wonders whether Mandela’s compassion may have ultimately set the stage for a subversion of the rule of law

51 Discovering Mandela’s Children
On a fellowship in South Africa with her family in tow, Warren Binford examines post-colonial Africa’s pursuit of stringent laws protecting the rights of children, while reflecting upon the ideal of unity amidst enduring post-apartheid inequities

67 “The Algerian Army Made Me a Man”
Abdeldjalil Larbi Youcef reveals startling facts about a little-known period of Mandela’s life, when he was on the lam in northern Africa and received a short, yet formative, introduction to armed resistance from the Algerian revolutionary forces

80 Some Monday for Sure · Fiction
We pay homage to Nobel Prize laureate, ANC activist—and Mandela’s friend—Nadine Gordimer (1923–2014) with this story that she first published in 1965 in the pages of
Transition 18

98 A Snub for the Ages
Immediately following his release from prison, at a time when most of the world was celebrating Mandela, Marvin Dunn tells of how the leader was rebuffed by the city of Miami, where conservative Cubans and Jews took the opportunity to air their political grievances

106 Robben Island University
Mandela was “the world’s most famous (former) prisoner,” and Aaron Bady explores how prison served as a necessary prerequisite for political leadership in much of post-colonial Africa, then asks us to consider in what ways Mandela may still be imprisoned

120 To Think as a Boxer
Offering multiple ways of viewing a famous sculpture depicting a boxing Mandela, Kurt Campbell explores not only what it means to imagine Mandela as a boxer, but also reveals how a youth spent boxing might have shaped Mandela’s activism and political vision

128 Fists · Poetry
by Paul Theroux

130 Nelson Mandela’s Two Bodies
Addressing the ubiquity of images of Nelson Mandela, art historian Steven Nelson suggests that these pictures allow the viewer to enter into a space of hope and reconciliation for which Mandela has come to stand, even as they risk obscuring our view of the real Mandela

143 The Watchmen
South African artist Jane Alexander’s uncanny, life-sized sculptures—despite their seeming inscrutability—have been embraced as some of the most significant and evocative anti-apartheid art;
Transition presents a photo essay of Alexander’s iconic works, with an introduction by Rebecca VanDiver

148 History, Iconicity, and Love
Meghan Healy-Clancy shares an historian’s review of two recent Mandela-themed films,
Long Walk to Freedom
and Winnie Mandela, in which she critiques their simplified representations of the anti-apartheid struggle and, particularly, their inept handling of the roles women played in those efforts

167 Mourning Mandela
With camera in hand, Christopher J. Lee took to the streets following the death of Mandela to experience and document the ways that South Africans were memorializing the passing of their hero away from the limelight of the official state-sanctioned, celebrity-infused funeral

172 In the Village
Returning to his natal village in the same region that Mandela called home, Hugo Canham talks with elderly residents to get their take on Mandela’s legacy and to ascertain whether they see themselves as participating in his politics of hope