|Pete kicks off Mandela Day|
The event was the idea of, and organised by, my dear comrade and fellow tutor, Peter Dwyer, who has spent a formative period of his life in South Africa, and felt compelled to organise a reflective event following the death of Mandela earlier this year.
Given Pete's academic writing/focus on South Africa (http://www.ruskin.ac.uk/staff/profile/90) the day was never going to be a neutral, celebratory, affair.
Indeed the bulk of discussion centred around the neo-liberal economic legacy of successive ANC governments and the way in which the massacre of striking miners in August 2012 (items posted on this in 2012) at the Marikana mine generated profound concerns about the lives of poor, black workers under a majority black government.
Indeed, the day ended with Peter quoting Mandela's famous statement at the 1993 COSATU conference:
“If the ANC does to you what the Apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the Apartheid government.”
|Katherine & John|
Follow the link for some excellent YouTube clips of John and Katherine at the book launch and of Ronnie Kasrils at the 2012 Marxism event.
The event was kicked off by Anne Mobbs who, like John and Katherine, had spent time in Africa supporting the liberation movement in a varieties of ways outside of South Africa. Anne helped provide the context for the creation of the UK's anti-apartheid movement (AAM) moving on to talk about her joint role in creating the Oxford branch of the AAM.
I was particularly struck by the genuine sense expressed on the part of Katherine, John and Anne that their roles were minor in the liberation struggle and that the true heroes were those whose stories are yet to be told.
|Anne, Pete and myself with some |
of the pictures from the Ruskin
archive which help illustrate the
Anne had actually done a great job at describing many of the historical links and relationships I had wanted to, and so instead I focused on how the work of the AAM nationally, allied national movements, and the liberation struggle had helped generate a supportive academic and labour movement climate outside of the UK, which resulted in the generation of a wide range of scholarship initiatives which funded study at Ruskin.
|Lively, informed debate|
|Screening Miners Shot Down|
Invariably this perspective was sufficiently nuanced with a confident sense of the country's potential for radical change, and of course the discussion around the new Workers' Party was a feature of this balanced discussion.
|Contributions from South Africans help|
create a successful event
The consensus at the end of the discussions/debate was that Ruskin's first Mandela Day had been an overwhelming success, and that Ruskin should host a similar yearly event, taking as its focus a different African country for analysis. I think that this is now very likely to happen.