Mandela: The Authorised Biography

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Mandela: The Authorised Biography
Mandela-Authorised.jpg
Author Anthony Sampson
Cover artist Annie Leibovitz
Country South Africa
Language English
Genre Biography
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
1999
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 678
ISBN 0-00-638845-0
OCLC 44484875

Mandela: The Authorised Biography is a study of Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, by the late journalist Anthony Sampson.

Sampson's book was published in 1999, five years after Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. The book was one of the first to examine such issues as Winnie Mandela's crimes, and State President Frederik Willem de Klerk's suspected attempts to use the security forces to derail peace talks.

De Klerk and the Third Force[edit]

Sampson said that de Klerk had exacerbated the violence in several ways. De Klerk was reportedly ignoring the violence of the Zulu-nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) when directed against ANC (and vice versa), in the hope of splitting anti-apartheid forces. De Klerk also permitted Inkatha supporters to carry "traditional weapons" in their rallies, with which they caused much injury. Sampson cited an occasion where the ANC tipped off the government that IFP was planning a violent protest: the police did nothing, and thirty people were killed.[1]

Mandela had himself made these criticisms in Long Walk to Freedom, but Sampson also broached new topics. Sampson accused de Klerk of permitting his police and defence ministers to sponsor both Inkatha and secret pro-apartheid organisations which terrorised opposition movements, the Third Force.[2] In 1991 de Klerk demoted those ministers, Adriaan Vlok and Magnus Malan respectively, and began an inquiry which Sampson described as a whitewash conducted by interested parties. De Klerk denied this, and said that he had been unable to restrain the third force, even though he wanted to.[3] In a 2004 interview, de Klerk said that his security forces had undermined him by conducting "undercover activities [...] in conflict with the policies which we were trying to advance". He said that the ANC also contained extremist elements which tried to wreck the peace process.[4]

James Gregory and Goodbye Bafana[edit]

Sampson's biography also alleged that one of Mandela's Robben Island warders, a Warrant Officer called James Gregory, pretended to have been Mandela's friend in order to make money. According to Sampson, the close relationship depicted in Gregory's book, Goodbye Bafana, was a fabrication, and in reality Gregory rarely spoke to Mandela. Gregory censored the letters sent to the future president and thus discovered the details of Mandela's personal life, which he sold in Goodbye Bafana. Mandela considered suing Gregory, but refrained from doing so when the Prison Department distanced itself from Gregory's book. Sampson also said that other warders, specifically Christo Brand, had told him in interviews that they suspected Gregory of spying for the government.[5] Mandela later invited Gregory to his inauguration as President, apparently having forgiven him as he had the former president Pieter Botha, and the prosecutor Dr. Percy Yutar who had tried to get him executed in the Rivonia Trial.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mandela: The Authorised Biography, p.438.
  2. ^ Mandela: The Authorised Biography, p.443.
  3. ^ Mandela: The Authorised Biography, p.442.
  4. ^ HBO History Makers Series: Frederik Willem de Klerk - Council on Foreign Relations
  5. ^ Mandela: The Authorised Biography, p.217.

See also[edit]