Possibly the closing words of Nelson Mandela’s statement from the dock as ‘accused number one’ in the Rivonia trial are amongst the most quoted in political history. Continue reading
The legacy of Chris Hani is obviously contested. Underneath many of the tributes referring to his selfless and revolutionary qualities there is on the one hand an attempt to legitimate the decadent, looting leaders of today. They have the resources to be present and in the forefront of a range of events to commemorate Hani’s life, as they will be later this month when OR Tambo is remembered.
On the other hand, those who are being robbed, evoke the memory of Hani as an alternative to what they see and know and even what they do not know but have come to expect will happen with their resources and the dreams they cherish for improvement of their lives.
No matter how many layers of red some of the leaders may wear, or the number of times they use revolutionary phrases or call others counter-revolutionary, they will not be able to stand in for Hani. He used to listen carefully to people. His speeches were not rhetorical displays, but responses to what he heard. That is what the people who loved him now miss.
I have hesitated to write about Chris Hani, partly because I did not know Comrade Chris all that well, meeting him for the first time in 1990. But I want to convey a few things that I learnt. The first is that Chris cared about people and this one hears from all the MK soldiers, that he was concerned about every one of them, spending evenings with them, remembering their names even after fleeting meetings. Continue reading