Andrew Mlangeni: SA Must Value And Protect It’s Hard-Earned Freedom


Time and time again South Africans have been reminded of the need to protect their hard-earned freedom and Andrew Mlangeni comes once again to say “We should value our freedom”.

The South African political activist and anti-Apartheid campaigner who fought along with Nelson Mandela and others, says South Africans must not squander their freedom as they are doing now.

Speaking on Thursday while launching his book on Thursday in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, the struggle stalwart and Rivonia trialist made a short retrospect of the battles fought to gain political freedom which every South African now enjoys.

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He said freedom must be valued and not put to waste as it is now done.

“We should diligently keep guard of it … I don’t know if we are keeping guard of this freedom that we have, or whether some people are squandering it,” he said.

The struggle stalwart was indirectly referring to South Africa’s present political trend which has been highly criticized as being captured by few power-hungry individuals.

Quoting American novelist and activist Alice Walker’s “freedom is not free”, Andrew Mlangeni said: “Thank you very much for sending me to prison, saving us from being sentenced to death,” to the crowd which laughed and applauded.

The book The Backroom Boy: Andrew Mlangeni’s Story was written by Mandla Mathebula and it’s about the long road to freedom before and after democracy in 1994.

The book captures a fascinating story about Mlangeni’s journey into South Africa’s political history– from a military trainee before the formation of Umkhonto weSizwe, to the Rivonia Trial, spending 25 years on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, to now being the voice of the ANC’s conscience as chair of the party’s integrity commission.

“If this book is being received as a gift and worthy of contribution to the history of our country and its people. I suppose it is in order to say thank you for considering the book as something of value,” he said when thanking the attendees.

“In more ways than one, our hopes in prison were kept alive by the undying hopes of the struggling people … that someday we would be free. We could easily have been erased from the memory of this nation. The nation did not forget. Being unforgettable, our hopes rose higher” he added while speaking of his fellow trialists Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Goldberg who were unable to attend the book launch.

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Andrew Mlangeni and Goldberg are the two remaining trialists, following the death of Kathrada in March this year.

“How sweet it could have been if all my Rivonia trialists were to stand with me before you on this celebratory night, each with a book in hand about our lives,” he said.