1st Edition

Reassessing Mandela

Edited By Colin Bundy, William Beinart Copyright 2021
    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    Seven years since his death (2013), Nelson Mandela still occupies an extraordinary place in the global imagination. Internationally, Mandela’s renown seems intact and invulnerable. In South Africa, however, his legacy and his place in the country’s history have become matters of contention and dispute, especially amongst younger black South Africans. The essays in this book analyse aspects of Mandela’s life in the context of South Africa’s national history, and make an important contribution to the historiography of the anti-apartheid political struggle. They reassess: the political context of Mandela’s youth; his changing political beliefs and connections with the Left; his role in the African National Congress and the turn to armed struggle; his marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and their political relationship. By providing new context, they explore Mandela as an actor in broader social processes such as the rise of the ANC and the making of South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution.

    The detailed essays are linked in a substantial introduction by Colin Bundy and current debates are addressed in a concluding essay by Elleke Boehmer. This book provides a scholarly counterweight both to uncritical celebration of Mandela and also to a simplistic attribution of post-apartheid shortcomings to the person of Mandela.

    This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Southern African Studies.

    1. The Challenge of Rethinking Mandela

    Colin Bundy

    2. The Headman, the Regent and the 'Long Walk to Freedom'

    Philip Bonner

    3. Mandela: The Untold Heritage

    Xolela Mangcu

    4. Mandela and the Left

    Tom Lodge

    5. The M-Plan: Mandela’s Struggle to Reorient the African National Congress

    Paul Landau

    6. Mandela’s Army: Urban Revolt in South Africa, 1960–1964

    Thula Simpson

    7. News from Robben Island: Journalists’ Visits to Nelson Mandela during his Imprisonment

    Martha Evans

    8. The Impossible Contract: The Political and Private Marriage of Nelson and

    Winnie Mandela

    Shireen Hassim

    9. Mandela, Human Rights and the Making of South Africa’s Transformative Constitution

    Timothy Gibbs

    10. Mandela and Beyond: Thinking New Possibility in the 21st Century

    Elleke Boehmer


    Colin Bundy has retired after a career as university academic and administrator. An historian, he is author of Nelson Mandela, a Jacana pocket biography.

    William Beinart is Emeritus Professor, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, author of Twentieth-Century South Africa (OUP, 2001) and Rights to Land (with Peter Delius and Michelle Hay, Jacana, 2017). With Ed Teversham he wrote an A-level text on South Africa, 1948–94 (Pearson, 2015).