Stanley Manong’s book gives a deep insight into the complexities of South African life in exile during Apartheid. A talented student from Victoria West, the author left his home country in 1976 to join the
ANC. He soon played a role in organising underground activities of its military wing, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK). To me, an European supporter of the liberation struggle, the book’s analysis of ideological controversies and
differences between MK and ZAPU (Zimbabwean African Peoples Union) in Zimbabwe on the nature of legitimate political and military targets, is of extreme interest. At the same time, Manong’s detailed account of corruption,
malfunctioning and elitism within the organisation, let alone conditions in certain camps, is appalling and will, I am sure, give way to controversies. Conditions improved due to the ANC’s Kabwe Conference in which Manong participated. Actively supported by President Oliver Tambo, he was able to further his studies in Hungary. But soon another difficult situation emerged as in 1989, socialism in Eastern Europe began to crumble and the
new political leaders and media largely renounced anti-imperialist solidarity. To my knowledge, this is the first account of how the system change in Eastern Europe impacted on the local (Southern) African diaspora.
Stanley Manong’s life story goes beyond an individual biography but touches upon many unresolved topics in the history of South Africa’s liberation struggle: the burden of exile, leadership ethics, effectiveness of the armed
struggle and the role of international solidarity. There is no doubt regarding the author’s ongoing political alignment. His frank approach however, supported by an incredible number of names and facts, will be relieving to some readers and disturbing to others. Hopefully, this process will finally contribute to truth and – if possible – facilitate reconciliation.
Dr Walter SauerFormer Chairperson of the Austrian Anti-Apartheid Movement;
Professor at the University of Vienna; and
Retired Head of International Department,
Austrian Trade Union Federation.