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Read e-book online Spear of the Nation: Umkhonto weSizwe: South Africa’s PDF

By Janet Cherry

Umkhonto we Sizwe, Spear of the kingdom, was once arguably the final of the nice liberation armies of the 20 th century—but it by no means received to “march effective into Pretoria.” MK—as it used to be known—was the armed wing of the African nationwide Congress, South Africa’s liberation flow, that challenged the South African apartheid executive. A small staff of revolutionaries devoted to the seizure of strength, MK found its significant participants engaged in negotiated cost with the enemy and was once disbanded quickly after.

The background of MK is one in every of paradox and contradiction, of successes and screw ups. during this brief research, which attracts extensively at the own stories of—and remark by—MK infantrymen, Janet Cherry bargains a brand new and nuanced account of the Spear of the country. She provides in huge define a number of the levels of MK’s thirty-year heritage, considers the tricky strategic and ethical difficulties the progressive military confronted, and argues that its operations usually are remembered as a simply battle performed with significant restraint.

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Extra resources for Spear of the Nation: Umkhonto weSizwe: South Africa’s Liberation Army, 1960s-1990s

Example text

They 60 were drafted into MK’s second formation, the June 16 Detachment. Few of them knew anything of the Congress tradition embodied in such figures as Albert Luthuli. What political consciousness they had developed was acquired through the Black Consciousness Movement; their activist experience was of being shot at by police in the streets; and they were aggressive in their desire to return to South Africa and confront the ‘Boers’ with weapons. Few of them, however, were to achieve their aim of doing so.

According to the MK commander Eric Mtshali, a group of 12 MK and ZAPU cadres under his command were instructed to cross the Zambezi to rescue a section of the Luthuli Detachment that had been surrounded by Rhodesian forces. The group crossed the mighty river at night in three small dinghies. When the commander’s boat reached the opposite bank, and he and his group were clambering out, they noticed that one of the other two boats had capsized. ‘In no time the water around it turned red with blood.

I retreated with both Zami and Masimini. I was going to collect the third LMG, which I gave to Zami. My main worry was the hillock. If we could allow the enemy to capture it, our position would be very precarious. We came out of the bush and ran towards the hillock. When we were at the foot of the hillock a helicopter appeared. 7mm machine gun. We ran back to the bush and took cover …’ 40 The description of this particular battle continues. After further conflicts, they were overpowered by the enemy, by which time ‘only seven of us were remaining, five ZAPU comrades, myself and Bothwell’.

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