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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

03 Dec 1993: Luthuli, Albertina

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POM     Last time when we talked it was mostly biographical and I think you took us up to the point in time of where you had graduated from college and become a doctor. Today I'd like to almost begin on the other end and to talk about when you came back to SA and how the SA you came from was the same as or different from the SA you left when you went into exile. So when did you make the decision to come back?

AL     I made the decision at the beginning of 1990. I returned with the decision made in 1989 from the UK. When I went back to Zimbabwe it was in my mind that one is on the way home.

POM     So you actually got back here?

AL     I actually returned in 1991, mid 1991, June.

POM     Did the SA you came back to, did it look different from the SA you had left?

AL     Oh yes, very, very different indeed in ever so many ways. I left in 1970. SA then was not just a tense country but all terrible things were happening. For me and my family life had ground to a halt. It was the kind of SA where you lived in fear, you hardly socialised, to the extent that I wasn't in touch even with my family of origin much. It was very difficult. The security police at that time were just too hot, they were arresting everybody and we were not supposed to talk to the next person. You had to stay put where you were, you were safe within your own four walls and then from there to work and then back home again. Really it was very bad. You could be thrown in and detained at any time without knowing why you were detained and this was really the major reason why my family left SA then.

     For my own family it had become terrible. My father was circumscribed to his house at Groutville. My husband was serving a ban not to talk to more than one person. He had been detained in and out and when he was detained I was being harassed. The Special Branch would come and question wanting to know where this man is who they have detained. It just made life very difficult. If somebody gets picked up like your husband and then you've got to try and play the role now of husband and mother to the young family, to the children. You had to make quick adjustments which sometimes were extremely difficult, especially in the fact of being harassed, you're not left alone to try and pick up the threads and put them together, thread them in nicely. As I say my life had become my children, taking care of the affairs of my husband when he was in jail and then going to work and sometimes at work being harassed. Home, Groutville, which is not very far from Durban, it had become almost impossible for me to go there because I was so busy and communicating by telephone was also not advisable because we suspected that the phones were tapped.

POM     People would be listening, the phones would be tapped?

AL     Yes. This is just a picture of a country that was really in the grip of terror, terror. So things got so bad that we took an offer of political asylum from Amnesty International in the UK which had been coming from the first days since my husband had been detained in and out and then they read about it, this Amnesty International group, and then they started communicating with my mother-in-law and myself about whether we might not just think it better to leave and pick up life elsewhere. They were prepared to help us emigrate to the United Kingdom. We did not want to do that, my family wasn't keen on that. South Africa was bad enough but this was home, all our relatives were here and, of course, as South Africans we had never really travelled abroad because that was difficult, you were not permitted by the government, by the successive governments of the country. So it meant going to the unknown with very young children, I had a seven-week old. I was supposed to travel when I was about nine months pregnant and they wouldn't take me so the child was born here and after seven weeks we left. Now I wasn't by then ready to abandon professional work and become housebound, looking after the children and looking after the house. I suspected I would have to do that if I went abroad and indeed that's what happened. In the end we had to leave because it had really become impossible to live here.

     To come back then to how SA was when I returned, I didn't live too far from SA, I was in Zimbabwe in the latter years of exile life so I had been sort of close to what was taking place at home. It was a different SA to that one. Obviously coming back after 21 years again it was moving to the unknown just like it had been going abroad and we had fears, people like me and all exiles, we had fears, we didn't quite trust the South African government. We didn't know what was going to happen after we returned. They had these agreements with the ANC about amnesty which were neither here nor there. We just had no trust at all, we really didn't have confidence in the South African government that we could return and be left alone to live in peace so one was in doubt about returning, coming or not coming.

     But in the end one felt that one had to come back home for two reasons, one was home, if the gates were opening then that ... and, secondly, I felt very strongly that the countries that had hosted us needed to get on with their own business too and maybe they had had enough of us. If the country looks us up sooner or later somebody might say, "Why are you still here?" That was another thing that made one think that made one feel that it's time to go. For me particularly I had an elderly mother and I had been receiving reports all the time that she was very ill, she is critical and that kind of thing, so I was living in constant anxiety in case anything happened to her. I felt that I needed to see her very badly indeed. So we returned to one rather pleasant surprise, it was even to go through the airport, easier than one had imagined. I didn't have a document, I didn't have anything, but really it was pretty easy. One had just that thing to show that you've been indemnified. Nothing, security, we just didn't know what was going to happen.

     I was with my daughter. The country looked very different. I had been in a little country compared to SA, Zimbabwe, come out of the airport there were all of these cars and SA looks very affluent compared to where one had been. I must say I was disappointed even though I know that SA is affluent, but I felt this sense of disappointment because we had been applying sanctions and we wanted the economy to feel the pinch so the impression was that how come? How come this country looks so affluent, have we perhaps not done enough? But at the same time we felt we had done enough because there they are, they've gone to the table to talk. They wouldn't have done that if they were still feeling strong. That was my first impression, it looked a bit affluent.

     Then we went through the process of being a South African once more and here things went on very smoothly and I was very impressed because then I realised that my organisation, the ANC, has really done a lot in obvious difficult circumstances when they are having to negotiate with a government that's stubborn but they had managed to do a lot for us returnees. They had set up a channel which was very smooth indeed for getting you through all the bureaucracy that a returnee had to go through. In one day before I moved from Johannesburg to Groutville everything was done. I had been to immigration and that was sorted out, I had been to the drivers licence place and that had been sorted out all in one go. I really felt the ANC is on the road to becoming a government of this country. Then I moved on to Soweto. Soweto didn't look any different to what it was before, still depressing, smoke above and people were doing the same things, crowded, children in the streets looking poor.

     I think in terms of what I expected regarding the tensions that had existed before, which had made me leave the country, I felt a bit relieved that I didn't feel that pressure on me but I needed to realise that the country had been through a lot, a lot had happened in the townships and everywhere, the evidence was there. Some parts were showing the devastation and everybody you talked to, you knew that people are hopeful and not hopeful at the same time. They don't know what's lying ahead, they don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow, they just live for today. That was Johannesburg.

     Then I moved the next day, I spent some time with my brother who is in touch with things in Johannesburg so I got a good idea of what was going on. In Durban it was pretty much the same, pretty much the same. Then I pushed on quickly to Groutville, my home, and there I was really, really, really disappointed. I had left a village which was very orderly with a settled community, people who lived there and owned land and respected the village therefore and had certain standards, they had a love of Groutville, and now there were just strange people all over the place, shacks had come up everywhere and it was totally different, it was no longer the quiet, beautiful village that it was. It had almost like some parts of it squatters. What had happened really is that life had changed since we had gone, it had changed a lot. Whereas before in places like that people lived on the land, the owners, the homeowners there lived on the land and they liked to see the place remain beautiful and quiet, now the situation in the country had done the same perhaps to most people as it had done to us who had left, it had tended to keep you where you were. You felt better if you didn't venture too much away from your home and the immediate. So walking long distances like we used to do when I was young to go to the fields to make a living had become hazardous. So what did they do? The generation after our parents felt we're not going to do that, they just built up this next to your main house they just built up shacks and rented them out.

POM     Rented them out?

AL     Yes rented them out and then you had a lot of immigrants from the Transkei, from that part of the world, people wanting work in the sugar cane fields. The displacement, communities had been displaced from the Cape to Natal and I suppose vice versa to the Transvaal as well.

POM     Who built the shacks that were rented out?

     Mainly, as I say, people who had owned homes, the landowners, they felt now that it's easier and perhaps safer to make your living by simply, if you've got a property that size, you just put shacks. When I say shacks I'm saying - you know what shacks are, nothing fancy, just to keep people there, and then rent them out so you collect rent and then that is your subsistence. Or another way was simply, because space was in demand, so many people who had come and had nowhere to live because of this movement that I just talked about, sometimes you just find that there are so many of them that you say, "Well there's land there", and they put up whatever structure they can put up themselves and you can imagine what kind of structure it would be because they had nothing. So Groutville had changed then, it looked ugly and dirty. I am sure this was the experience of most other people. I was depressed by that and I thought not only has there been war in the country and there's been that destruction on that scale but even at family level things had changed tremendously. Families were disorganised and life had deteriorated in quality.

     Then of course when it came to the security situation it seemed to be better than before. I must say since I returned, it's two years now, I haven't experienced obvious harassment. I think the whole picture has changed. I haven't, apart from this thing that you call - that is this unrest, the wars that are going on whose origin is obscure even now. I don't know exactly what is going on there whether it's struggle for power, other forces coming in, it's complicated but that is what is going on now. That kind of harassment where you had the security police living on your neck is no longer there. It is a changed South Africa and for myself I am hopeful that the future has something for us.

AL     It's not what one had dreamt of in exile. I will talk about the ANC. The ANC had put a lot of thought into what SA should look like after apartheid is gone, a lot of work had been done pertaining to all aspects of the life of an individual, education, health, religious, legal, social, every aspect, and a lot of debate has gone on amongst the ANC membership. Therefore we had a picture, a vision of the kind of SA that we thought would be good for everybody. Then the process of negotiations with the give and take, compromises and all that, a lot has happened which is going to produce a SA which I am sure is the best that could be worked out. It is also different to what we had imagined it would be. But then that's in the nature of things and we understand that.

POM     Do you think that the ANC in the negotiations made too many concessions to the government?

AL     You know I will tell you, it's a bit difficult to answer that question because it's not quite clear in one's mind what in fact, what has happened. As I'm sitting here I'm not very sure. I know the ANC has compromised on a lot of things. Definitely we were for a unitary state, let me just take that one example, and to me it seems the most sensible thing that we should have a unitary state even now as I'm sitting here because we've come from a divided SA which has brought us to the situation we're in now and it's terrible. Obviously I can't entertain these divisions any more and I would have thought that if we work towards being one people that would be the best that we could do instead of harping on being divided again for whatever reason. To me it's just unacceptable. But I know that the ANC has had to make compromises on that. Personally I'm unhappy about that but I understand why they had to make compromises. What I'm trying to say is I don't know actually how much they have given away from that concept of unitary, it's not clear, it's not clear to me. Sometimes you think that ...

POM     It's not clear to them either.

AL     Sometimes you think they've given away too much and then I say, "Oh no, no, no, this is no good", and then the next thing I get the impression again that the ANC is still hanging on to the idea of a unitary state and that is why the other parties, the Freedom Alliance, is staying away because they are not getting what they want. So I wonder because I'm thinking that they're getting what they want. I don't know. In a way it's confusing. I think politicians, a lot is not clear to us, it's what's sitting in our rooms here, what they have done, what they are doing, how much they have given, they always keep hiding something.

POM     I've read that your father was kind of a mentor to Gatsha Buthelezi.

AL     He was, I think perhaps you will have to get Gatsha Buthelezi to tell you about that, he was really - you see, he doesn't like to be called Gatsha Buthelezi I hear.

POM     He doesn't like to be called Gatsha Buthelezi?

AL     I'm not sure what he wants to be called. I've heard him complain about being referred to as Gatsha. I'm not sure why but I'm used to calling him that. There is a closeness which runs very deep between my family and that family. Certainly Gatsha Buthelezi respected my father tremendously and we were close, we called each other Boetie, Sissie, I took him as an older brother, for instance, and he looked after me when I was at Adams College. So there was a closeness, a very, very likeable or closeness. Then he admired and respected my father so he listened a lot to him. He came from - you know the Royal Family background is different in that he was an intellectual and he couldn't get that from his own background. He couldn't get the kind of intellectual advice about things at large from his own background and my father provided that so he would listen to him and he took a lot of advice from him. But as I say, I think he can tell you a lot more about that than I can, that he used to come home and my father also liked Gatsha very much, very respectful young man he was, very respectful and very low keyed and really he was very good. I think as a result when my father died, 1967, the ANC was already underground, all the ANC people were hiding away, nobody could do anything about making the funeral for Chief Luthuli who was the President General of the ANC and yet they wanted to give him, to send him away with a state funeral but no-one of the ANC could really stand on the platform and make that happen. Gatsha Buthelezi was the man that the ANC relied on to do that, so he played a very major role during my father's funeral. There were others as well but from the ANC side he played a very big role for the ANC, that was 1967, as well as in 1972 when it was the time of the tombstone unveiling, he still played a very major role in the ceremony. Again in the same way as in 1967 he was called upon to play a major role and he did.

     I don't remember the year now, again because of the difficulties of a banned organisation here, there was an award that had been given to Papa, I think that was the OAU award, I forget what it's called now, but it had been difficult to get it, how was it going to be awarded. He was dead and they couldn't come in here and all the difficulties so finally it was arranged that my mother could go and receive it in Lesotho and this was long after it had been awarded but arrangements had been difficult to make and Chief Buthelezi was the one who was chosen to accompany her. He was given the task by the ANC to accompany her to Lesotho to go and receive that award on behalf of my father who was already dead. There are wonderful pictures of the occasion, it was Chief Lebowa Jonathan there, Lebowa Jonathan was head of state of Lesotho and we had our exiles there, the volunteers and everybody, they all surfaced and it was a nice day. But Buthelezi was close to my mother to play that role. It's always been like that.

POM     What happened that there is this terrible animosity between himself and the ANC? You have virtually a civil war going on in Natal. What happened? Here he moved from being somebody who was called upon by the ANC to perform very important tasks, he carried them out well on behalf of the ANC and yet today he is ...

AL     Yes, at war.

POM     - locked in war with the ANC and making threats about what will happen if he doesn't get his way.

AL     I think different people would have different theories about that and different versions. I really don't know. One day it was all right then something went wrong somewhere. It's difficult to know. Perhaps people higher up might know. I really don't quite know what happened. You see I'll say this, when we were in exile, in London for instance, again with regard to my family, the ANC started - well they said there was a need for raising money and starting some kind of foundation named after my father so that his name could be used to raise money to look after the exiles, the people, so many of them moving abroad, every now and again you have problems, you don't know what to do when you're in exile, scholarships and social welfare kind of work. Now it was called the Luthuli Memorial Foundation. It was started mainly by the President then, Oliver Tambo, and the members of his Executive. Father Huddleston, Canon Collins, a number of people were involved, Mary Louise Hooper who was a wealthy American woman who came to assist the ANC she also was involved. There was a military struggle against the regime here and there was this need for welfare, as I explained. Now the ANC felt that they had to separate them from the main work that they had to do which was the onslaught on the SA government so this is what the LMF was supposed to do. Chief Buthelezi was inside there, sort of if I can say the custodian for the people.

POM     The money? Custodian of the fund?

AL     No, no, the custodian for the people, the oppressed. You know what the ANC had been doing, he was a custodian of that with the organisation banned and with everybody out and all that, he had this platform being the leader of KwaZulu and then he was supposed to use that platform to further the cause of the oppressed. Then, for instance, when he used to go to London, he could meet the South Africans who were running this welfare, the Luthuli Memorial Foundation, and get to know what is going on and also with the ANC he could meet ANC people there and get to know what is happening and be able to return to the country without any accusations such as he had been meeting terrorists and that kind of thing abroad. So there was a very good relationship.

     Now you've asked me what happened. I don't know, I don't know what happened but I've tried to show you the areas that were very good, a very good relationship. But I think it's in the nature of politicians, at some point you feel that he wanted to go away, perhaps you feel that - I have my own ideas now. Before Inkatha was formed the whole thing was more or less going clearly ANC, clearly ANC, and then Inkatha was formed. The name went on to be Inkatha now and then it went on and went on and finally it sort of became different to the ANC. But what actually was taking place there I can't say.

POM     Did you meet him in London?

AL     I was involved in the Luthuli Memorial Foundation, I was a trustee, so I met him a number of times when he was in London, sometimes with his wife Irene. We took care of them.

POM     When he would be in London?

AL     Yes, as I say we did meet them quite often.

POM     Have you met him since you came back?

AL     No I haven't. I am too scared to, to go there by myself. I'm too scared to go beyond Stanger. It's just too risky so I don't venture beyond Stanger and he's deep in KwaZulu. I wouldn't for anything want to be going that way and of course if really I had to see him I would have to go there. I haven't dared. I wouldn't dare. But I've been - recently we lost my brother, my youngest brother, and it occurred to me again that the family should get in touch with Gatsha Buthelezi, definitely, irrespective of the politics of the ANC and IFP and inform him that the boy had died. We informed him but late actually, just the day before, and he was tied up with all sorts of things. He sent one of his senior aides with a message of condolence, a very beautiful and long message which was read in the church there on his behalf. Mr Bengu, I think it was. So there is that in the relationship which remains even at a distance.

     I would say I think, for myself, I definitely must say, that the politics of Inkatha are just not my cup of tea at all. I think that there was the ANC there and Chief Buthelezi was a member of the ANC and believed in the ANC. I think that there wasn't - how can I put it now? The ANC as it was and as it is there was really nothing to - you couldn't improve it, you couldn't, if you found any other organisation and deep down the ANC covers everything, it's total for the aspirations and the needs of not just the oppressed of this country but everybody. It looks after the whole population, everybody in SA has been well thought of as a South African by the ANC and it's total.

     Now I think the difficulty was that when, for whatever reason, Chief Buthelezi felt it no longer possible for him to go along with the ANC, and quite honestly I think this was just personal, I think these were just things which had nothing to do with the major aspirations of these individuals as South Africans and as Africans. I think there must have just been differences, perhaps power, power struggle or whatever it is, but politicians do that. You know what I'm talking about? Having been the custodian of the ANC perhaps a point was reached where the accommodation of all of them in the leadership has been clear. I'm just speculating, but then I think for me moving away from the ANC it couldn't produce anything better than the ANC because, as I said, I think the ANC is quite excellent. So now what are you going to do if you are an ANC believer and then you break away and what's going to be the difference between you now and the ANC? Because there's got to be some difference. What I'm trying to say here is that you're probably going to go lower because you can't do better. There's a lot I'm trying to say. I'm quite serious and I think that Inkatha just didn't have room to come up with any policies which were going to be seen to be different from the ANC and yet at the same time be relevant and good enough.

POM     I've interviewed him now four times in the last four years and on each occasion he's been a different person. Sometimes he's been very defensive and curt and sometimes he's been very charming and open. One thing that has struck me is that he seems to be obsessed with being insulted. He would say, "The ANC have insulted me", or "They insulted the King", but the word insult would keep cropping up. As you knew him did he have this kind of sensitivity?

AL     Yes I think that Gatsha Buthelezi is a very sensitive individual. I have actually crossed swords with him, not expecting that we were going to cross swords, simply because I was stating facts and then because of this sensitive nature of his the whole thing became distorted and blown out of proportion. It simply had to do with my mother being put on the platform of Inkatha, Inkatha rallies and meetings and that kind of thing whilst my family is steeped in the ANC. This was getting to be really not good, it was getting out of control. I think the crux of it really was they used to celebrate the day of the death of my father. You know when organisations are squashed and pushed to a corner you like to have something that you can use around which you can mobilise people and that kind of thing. So this is what they used to do, they used to celebrate the death of my father, the ANC, even if was UDF. Now, of course, it was UDF. But we all knew what the UDF was standing for, it wasn't different to what the ANC stood for. They had the day's arrangements and my mother was going to be the guest of honour there. That's the third time Inkatha wanted to have its own do and have my mother there at the same time. This had become too much. All I felt that I could do really was to clear the matter that in fact really that family is ANC and my mother should not be used for any other purpose. She belongs to the ANC, she's ANC, but being an old lady and distant and in the situation and with the strong ties and the love she has for Chief Gatsha Buthelezi was such I felt it was putting her in difficulties.

     So some South African journalist who was in Zimbabwe interviewed me and I did state that. Then she often had a grudge against Buthelezi. I don't know, they had clashed when she was interviewing him here or something, here in the country, she and her husband, and she wrote an article and Buthelezi didn't like it so they had a clash. So when she was writing this article interviewing me she projected her own, she added her own things to it that weren't for Buthelezi, all in one article. He was furious, he was angry. He told me don't put me in the newspapers and then he said that in fact he had helped me a lot, and I used to communicate with him in exile about the difficulties of exile. When I was in Lesotho I had family difficulties as well as exile difficulties, sometimes I used to phone him at night in KwaZulu and the man was very hard working, he is a hard worker. I believe that because sometimes I used to phone very late at night, one o'clock or whatever, and get Irene and she just says that he is not at home, he's still busy in his office most of the time. At any rate, just to cut a long story short, I had that communication with him when I was in England, he was furious and he said, "Well, I've tried to help her and now this is what she is saying to me. I've got letters, at one time I was helping her to return to the country when she had difficulties in exile and now look what she's doing." In fact he threatened to say, "I can produce those letters", I mean he over-reacted, he threatened that he could produce those letters and publish them, put them in the newspapers, to show just how horrible I am to say the things that I seem to have said and yet he had all the trust in me and he felt that we were like brother and sister, which really was true and I didn't feel any different after that. I didn't feel - one thing, as I say, the article was not quite a reflection of what - but even then anybody who's got the skin to cover him in his position should be able to absorb some of those things. He knew it and we had never had any clash and he knew me very well and there was no need to over-react especially a man as big as himself. I just think that he takes every little thing much too personally.

     I grew up in a family where my father was a leader and he used to resist bones thrown at him. I can tell you when he was President of Natal there was a man who regarded him as his rival, A W G Champion, he was leader of the ICU here, the union, a powerful union here in Natal. My father was rising in his leadership of the province, Champion didn't like it and he was one person who could say anything about anyone and anyhow so he used to write some terrible things about my father in the newspapers, Ilanga in Natal which is read widely by the African people. You know it? Then sometimes even I as a young girl I used to read Ilanga and say, "Oh but this is just awful what this is saying about my father". And you know he didn't mind, he didn't pay any attention to it. Zani Tonto and L B ... you have probably heard about them, they were in the leadership of Natal and the ANC, if I can say they were my father's lieutenants, they used to get so angry and want to reply to some of those things that Champion was saying about Luthuli and he used to stop them. He used to say you can't be wasting time on that because probably it's designed so that he keeps on muttering like that. He used to say that he's not prepared to do that, he didn't think it was important.

     I am saying this because it's very much in contrast with the fragility of Chief Buthelezi, he is extremely fragile I think. When you are a leader up there you can't just mind every little thing, you let people tread on your corns and you don't feel it, you just walk on. You're supposed to. I think he's extremely sensitive. That is one single thing which has perhaps really been a bother to him. I think it's been a bother to him. I think it's made life difficult for him as a politician, as a public figure but he's extremely sensitive. If he did not answer back and threaten punishment, everything that he feels unhappy about and I think that's a weakness.

POM     Do you see a big difference between him as a person as distinct from a politician? When you were growing up and at college and afterwards did he have that sensitivity or was he more open?

AL     You see Gatsha grew up a very respectable and kind-hearted and very soft person but now as a politician you've got to be hard perhaps, you've got to show some mettle, you've got to withstand all sorts of bashings and the waves hitting you left and right. I think he probably manages as a politician to come out that way and yet obviously inside he is fragile as a person. As a person he is extremely fragile. So I think he has got this difficulty which is why perhaps you say you find at one time that he is ...

POM     So defensive and another time he's so - if he feels that he's being threatened in any way.

AL     That's right. I still see a lot of softness in him which he has not been able to reconcile with the hard realities of politics, political leadership.

POM     When he says, or one of the things he always says is that when Nelson Mandela was in jail and the SA government wanted to negotiate with him that he wouldn't do so until Nelson Mandela was released. Then when Mandela was released Mandela had made a commitment to come up and visit him and the King and then the ANC persuaded Mandela not to do so and he felt deeply insulted. Do you think that Mandela should have come to see him?

AL     Well let's take that just a little bit back. If you have listened perhaps to Chief Buthelezi as he was before, now he doesn't say much about Mandela, but when the chance presents itself he usually mentions that he played a very big role to get Mandela out of prison. He says so and then, of course, we are to see that now as greatly disappointing to him and unfair that after Mandela has been released and he has done so much to get him released, Mandela seems to be uncaring and not wanting to go and see him. OK. Now really let's examine it. I am sure Chief Buthelezi played his role, I don't know the extent of it, and there were other people, many individuals who wrote to the SA government and published asking the SA government to release Mandela and the political prisoners. The ANC had a 'Release Mandela' campaign, Anti-Apartheid Movement had a global campaign to release Mandela. It is not quite correct to claim that "I played a major role". In the first place I'd just like to put that into perspective. That's the way I see it. I am not saying really that one should say he didn't play, I'm trying to put it in perspective.

POM     He played a role but he didn't do it himself.

AL     Yes, in perspective, that's right in perspective. Then finally Mandela is released and when he's released he's released on his terms and the terms of the ANC, the terms that were put to the government and everybody else that he will not leave, he and the other political prisoners, will not leave prison unless certain conditions are fulfilled before he leaves. Now that was pressure of Mandela's movement, it was not Chief Gatsha Buthelezi because he had another movement at that point which he cared for, he was at loggerheads with the ANC. So finally Mandela comes out. Now Mandela did really want to go and pay his respects to the King of the Zulus, Zwelithini, as well as see his old pal, friend, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi. He probably also wanted to see if they could come together again because I think Mandela could foresee the problems in future if Inkatha and the ANC did not reach some understanding of each other. He probably had hoped that if he meets Chief Gatsha Buthelezi we will go back to what it was before.

     But he went, for instance, to Groutville, he went to Groutville to go and see my mother, but Papa died when he was in prison. He used to communicate with my mother when he was in prison. He went there and he went to see her and see the house of Chief Luthuli who he used to go to before as a member of the National Executive of the ANC and meet the Chief alive. Now he comes after his death. So he went there to pay his respects to his late leader and went to see the grave. He was expressing his great desire to go beyond, Groutville is on the way to Zululand, to go beyond and also do the same. So we see here really somebody who had started out that when I come out I need to go and pay my dues, if I can put it that way, to all those people who matter so much to his life and to the life of SA.

     Now honestly I think all of us can attest that there was a great desire from Mandela to go and see Chief Buthelezi and meet King Zwelithini but then I do not think perhaps we can sit here and say it was the ANC that stopped Mandela. I think that looking at it from a distance, I don't know the inside story, but it doesn't look that way today and knowing what I know about ANC and Inkatha, I don't think it's just like that really. I think here so many things came into play that in the end it just became impossible and as these factors were coming into play the thing became more and more impossible, more and more impossible that I have no doubt that Mandela and the ANC would have liked him to go and meet Chief Buthelezi and pay his respects to the King in the hope perhaps that the two parties could be reconciled somehow in the interests of their followers, in the interests of the masses. It didn't happen, it didn't happen and I think we can talk perhaps at length about the factors that came into play. I think there are many.

POM     I think I'll leave it there because you've another appointment. We're going home at Christmas and then coming back so perhaps we could come and visit you again. Just what you have to say is so fascinating. You get the impression that a lot of what's going on is not political but personal, that Buthelezi feels slighted, insulted because Mandela didn't come to visit him and that makes reconciliation between them more difficult, it makes reconciliation between their organisations more difficult.

AL     Yes, it's both, both personal and political. Both sides are in the political game.

POM     So thank you and we'll come back and see you again.

AL     OK, you're welcome.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.