On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X
The purpose of this article is to highlight the late President Nelson Mandela's attitude towards communism, which forms a white spot in history, and to break down the myths surrounding this debate in an academic manner. The aim is not to break down his image; it is merely to throw light on a somewhat veiled aspect of his life. To do this, use was made of Mandela's own writings in the 1950s, before he was sentenced to life imprisonment, as well as two important documents written in the seventies. One is the recently published secret autobiography which he wrote on Robben Island. Use was also made of the most recent research by historians on Mandela's relatively short-lived membership of the SA Communist Party. The conclusions reached are that Mandela was indeed a senior member of the SACP in the late fifties and early sixties, and that he then let his adherence to this ideology lapse for tactical reasons and with permission of the Party. Furthermore, it is clear that as early as the 1950s he was an uncritical supporter of Marxism-Leninism, a belief which he retained at least until the late seventies. During the course of the eighties, and especially after his release in 1990, he apparently realised it was expedient to change his outlook on communism.
Keywords : ANC; SACP; communism; Nelson Mandela; liberation struggle.