Event: Day Conference: Nelson Mandela:
The Spiritual, Social and Political Vision in his Life and Writings.

Venue: Sanctuary, Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL.
Date: Saturday 14 December 2019.
Time: Registration: 9.30am-10am. Day Conference: 10am-2pm.
Event Description: Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape, on 18 July 1918. His mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. In 1930, when he was 12 years old, his father died and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni1.

Hearing the elders’ stories of his ancestors’ valour during the wars of resistance, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.

He attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave him the name Nelson, in accordance with the custom of giving all schoolchildren “Christian” names.

He completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and went on to Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute, where he matriculated.

Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student protest.

On his return to the Great Place at Mqhekezweni the King was furious and said if he didn’t return to Fort Hare he would arrange wives for him and his cousin Justice. They ran away to Johannesburg instead, arriving there in 1941. There he worked as a mine security officer and after meeting Walter Sisulu, an estate agent, he was introduced to Lazer Sidelsky. He then did his articles through a firm of attorneys – Witkin, Eidelman and Sidelsky.

He completed his BA through the University of South Africa and went back to Fort Hare for his graduation in 1943.

Meanwhile, he began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his own admission he was a poor student and left the university in 1952 without graduating. He only started studying again through the University of London after his imprisonment in 1962 but also did not complete that degree.

In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa. He graduated in absentia at a ceremony in Cape Town.

Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped to form the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

In 1944 he married Walter Sisulu’s cousin, Evelyn Mase, a nurse. They had two sons, Madiba Thembekile "Thembi" and Makgatho, and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. He and his wife divorced in 1958.

Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL and through its efforts, the ANC adopted a more radical mass-based policy, the Programme of Action, in 1949.

In 1952 he was chosen as the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign with Maulvi Cachalia as his deputy. This campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws was a joint programme between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. He and 19 others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for their part in the campaign and sentenced to nine months of hard labour, suspended for two years.

A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allowed Mandela to practise law, and in August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela & Tambo.

At the end of 1952 he was banned for the first time. As a restricted person he was only permitted to watch in secret as the Freedom Charter was adopted in Kliptown on 26 June 1955.

Mandela was arrested in a countrywide police swoop on 5 December 1955, which led to the 1956 Treason Trial. Men and women of all races found themselves in the dock in the marathon trial that only ended when the last 28 accused, including Mandela, were acquitted on 29 March 1961.

On 21 March 1960 police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest in Sharpeville against the pass laws. This led to the country’s first state of emergency and the banning of the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) on 8 April. Mandela and his colleagues in the Treason Trial were among thousands detained during the state of emergency.

During the trial Mandela married a social worker, Winnie Madikizela, on 14 June 1958. They had two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa. The couple divorced in 1996.

Days before the end of the Treason Trial, Mandela travelled to Pietermaritzburg to speak at the All-in Africa Conference, which resolved that he should write to Prime Minister Verwoerd requesting a national convention on a non-racial constitution, and to warn that should he not agree there would be a national strike against South Africa becoming a republic. After he and his colleagues were acquitted in the Treason Trial, Mandela went underground and began planning a national strike for 29, 30 and 31 March.

In the face of massive mobilisation of state security the strike was called off early. In June 1961 he was asked to lead the armed struggle and helped to establish Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation), which launched on 16 December 1961 with a series of explosions.

On 11 January 1962, using the adopted name David Motsamayi, Mandela secretly left South Africa. He travelled around Africa and visited England to gain support for the armed struggle. He received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. He was arrested in a police roadblock outside Howick on 5 August while returning from KwaZulu-Natal, where he had briefed ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli about his trip.

He was charged with leaving the country without a permit and inciting workers to strike. He was convicted and sentenced to five years' imprisonment, which he began serving at the Pretoria Local Prison. On 27 May 1963 he was transferred to Robben Island and returned to Pretoria on 12 June. Within a month police raided Liliesleaf, a secret hideout in Rivonia, Johannesburg, used by ANC and Communist Party activists, and several of his comrades were arrested.

On 9 October 1963 Mandela joined 10 others on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. While facing the death penalty his words to the court at the end of his famous "Speech from the Dock" on 20 April 1964 became immortalised:

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. ”

On 11 June 1964 Mandela and seven other accused, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni, were convicted and the next day were sentenced to life imprisonment. Goldberg was sent to Pretoria Prison because he was white, while the others went to Robben Island.

Mandela’s mother died in 1968 and his eldest son, Thembi, in 1969. He was not allowed to attend their funerals.

On 31 March 1982 Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town with Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni. Kathrada joined them in October. When he returned to the prison in November 1985 after prostate surgery, Mandela was held alone. Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee visited him in hospital. Later Mandela initiated talks about an ultimate meeting between the apartheid government and the ANC.

On 12 August 1988 he was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. After more than three months in two hospitals he was transferred on 7 December 1988 to a house at Victor Verster Prison near Paarl where he spent his last 14 months of imprisonment. He was released from its gates on Sunday 11 February 1990, nine days after the unbanning of the ANC and the PAC and nearly four months after the release of his remaining Rivonia comrades. Throughout his imprisonment he had rejected at least three conditional offers of release.

Mandela immersed himself in official talks to end white minority rule and in 1991 was elected ANC President to replace his ailing friend, Oliver Tambo. In 1993 he and President FW de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize and on 27 April 1994 he voted for the first time in his life.

On 10 May 1994 he was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President. On his 80th birthday in 1998 he married Graça Machel, his third wife.

True to his promise, Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President. He continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund he set up in 1995 and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

In April 2007 his grandson, Mandla Mandela, was installed as head of the Mvezo Traditional Council at a ceremony at the Mvezo Great Place.

Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism. His life is an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived; and to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation.

He died at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013.

Nelson Mandela Foundation.


EICSP Day Conference: Saturday 14 December 2019.

Nelson Mandela:
The Spiritual, Social and Political Vision in his Life and Writings.

Venue: Sanctuary, Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL.

Time: Registration: 9.30am-10am. Day Conference: 10am-2pm.

Organised by Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace, EICSP,
Scottish Charity, SC038996, www.eicsp.org


Conference: 9.30am-2pm.

9.30am-10am: Arrival and Registration.

10am-10.20am: Introduction and Welcome: Dr Ian Wight.

10.20am-10.40am: Plenary address: Peter McColl.

Freedom is Coming - Nelson Mandela and mass action against apartheid
 - a social movements approach.

The ANC took a strategic decision to make Nelson Mandela the personification of the struggle against apartheid. This decision was enormously successful at the time and made Mandela possibly the most famous living person even well after he ceased being President. But the end of apartheid was a much more complex process and involved a variety of forces acting in concert. This talk evaluates the role played by culture and social movements in ending apartheid, and the way Mandela himself related to these movements.

Bio: Peter McColl is a scholar of both social movements and southern Africa. He has an interest in social change and how social movements develop, adapt and effect transformation and revolution. He is originally from Belfast but has been based in Edinburgh for over 20 years. He is a regular visitor to southern Africa and has particular interests in the ANC and in Zimbabwean politics.

10.40am-10.55am: Discussion.

10.55am-11.15am: Plenary address: Rev Dr Iain Whyte.

Nelson Mandela - a Free yet Rooted Spirit.

This presentation will attempt to highlight that whilst Madiba for most of his life refused to be tied to a formal religious or ideological system, he recognized his deep debt to his cultural and religious roots and his learning from some of the best values in the world's religions. It will reflect on his capacity for self-understanding that enabled him to understand human frailty and to embrace the respect for humanity and the passion for forgiveness, deeply embedded in true spirituality, that was to play such a crucial role in the transformation of his nation.

Bio: Iain Whyte is a retired Church of Scotland minister who has been a University Chaplain, Head of Christian Aid in Scotland, a parish minister, and a youth worker in Ghana. He joined the Boycott Movement in 1959 and then the Anti-Apartheid Movement under the influence of Fr. Trevor Huddleston, a lifelong mentor. He served as African Convenor of the Church of Scotland and was for many years a Committee Member of the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement (later Action for Southern Africa) He has frequently visited South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique and in 1988 was an Ecumenical Peace Observer in Namibia.

11.15am-11.30am: Discussion.

11.30am-11.50am: Tea/coffee break.

11.50am-12.10: Plenary address: Prof Tommy J Curry, Personal Chair of Africana Philosophy and Black Male Studies.

He Was Not Always a Peaceful Man: Nelson Mandela’s Spear of the Nation.

Nelson Mandela is often associated with an unflinching compassion for humanity and selflessness. This cosmopolitan framing of Mandela as a global peace symbol often overwhelms serious historical accounts of Madiba as a revolutionary figure, a political prisoner, and only then when he became an old man—a symbol of peace. Philosophies of reconciliation primarily focus on Madiba’s activism after his release. These perspectives attempt to write onto Madiba an American civil rights narrative that maintains non-violence was globally successful in achieving racial justice. Like Martin Luther King Jr., Madiba becomes a symbol of white/European peoples' potentiality, discourse/dialogue, and morality, to triumph amidst the contradiction of such abstractions; the material reality, the ongoing actualities of poverty and continued exploitation of Black people the world over. As is usually the case, the young man, who was the revolutionary, the violence-as-necessary thinker, is ignored for the old man, the pacifist after almost three decades in prison. Madiba is not celebrated for his courage to die for the ideal of Black life and freedom and take the lives of his oppressor if need be, but rather for saying after being a political prisoner, that we should love and struggle against our oppressors with dignity and respect for their lives. This paper will discuss the contradiction of a Western world that embraces a peaceful old man but fears the young revolutionary Madiba once was.

Bio: Tommy J. Curry is a Professor of Philosophy and Personal Chair (Distinguished Professor) of Africana Philosophy and Black Male Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests are 19th-century ethnology, Critical Race Theory & Black Male Studies. He is the author of The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood (Temple University Press 2017), which won the 2018 American Book Award. He is the author of Another White Man’s Burden: Josiah Royce’s Quest for a Philosophy of Racial Empire (SUNY Press 2018), and re-published the forgotten philosophical works of William Ferris as The Philosophical Treatise of William H. Ferris: Selected Readings from The African Abroad or, His Evolution in Western Civilization (Rowman & Littlefield 2016). He is also the editor of the first book series dedicated to the study of Black males entitled Black Male Studies: A Series Exploring the Paradoxes of Racially Subjugated Males on Temple University Press. Dr. Curry is currently co-editing (with Daw-nay Evans) the forthcoming anthology Contemporary African American Philosophy: Where Do We Go from Here on Bloomsbury Publishing (2019). His research has been recognized by Diverse as placing him among the Top 15 Emerging Scholars in the United States in 2018, and his public intellectual work earned him the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy’s Alain Locke Award in 2017. He is a past recipient of the USC Shoah Foundation and A.I. and Manet Schepps Foundation Teaching Fellowship (2017), the Ray A. Rothrock Fellowship at Texas A&M University (13-16), and the past president of Philosophy Born of Struggle, one of the oldest Black philosophy organizations in the United States.

12.10am-12.25pm: Discussion.

12.25pm-12.45pm: Plenary address: David Kenvyn.

The Legacy of Nelson Mandela and the current situation in South Africa.

The emphasis will be on the recent ACTSA report "The Money Drain" which shows how international companies have been milking South Africa of its resources to the detriment of the alleviation of poverty.

Bio: David Kenvyn is a lifelong anti-apartheid activist, chair of the London Region of the Anti-Apartheid Movement throughout the 1980s, volunteer in the ANC Offices in Johannesburg during the 1994 election; Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of ACTSA UK; Vice Chair of ACTSA Scotland; and Trustee, Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation.

12.45pm-1pm: Discussion.

1pm-1.20pm: Plenary address: Dr Brian Filling.

Nelson Mandela and Scotland: The positive and negative Scottish influences on his vision and life in the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle.

The presentation will describe and critically evaluate:

The role and influence of mission schools and the University of Fort Hare in the development of the African National Congress, Mandela’s education and his early life experiences.

The role of Scots in the development of the ideology of apartheid.

The role and interactions of South Africans and Scots in the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggles from the nineteenth century until 1994 with a particular influence on Nelson Mandela.

The visit of Nelson Mandela to Scotland to receive the Freedoms of 9 UK Cities and the continuing connection through the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation.

BIO: Brian Filling is the Honorary Consul for South Africa in Scotland and Chair of the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation (www.mandelascottishmemorial.org).

Founding Chair of the Scottish Committee of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, from 1976 until its dissolution in 1994, with the ending of apartheid. He is Chair of the successor organization, Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) Scotland. He was the Lead organizer of Nelson Mandela’s visit to Glasgow in 1993 to collect the Freedoms of 9 UK cities and a Guest at the Inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President of the Republic of South Africa in 1994.

His publications relating to South Africa include The Glasgow Mandela Story; Oliver Tambo Remembered; From Colonialism and Apartheid to Ten Years of the New South Africa; The End of a Regime?: an Anthology of Scottish-South African Writing Against Apartheid.

In 2012 in Tshwane (Pretoria) he was awarded the “National Order of Companions of O.R. Tambo”, the highest honour bestowed upon non-South Africans by the Republic of South Africa.

1.20pm-1.35pm: Discussion.

1.35pm: Closing discussion.


Nelson Mandela

NB: There will be no refund if you cancel your booking.

Cost: £10/£8 (Concessions)/£3 (Students). For a Registration Form:
Contact: Neill Walker, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 0131 331 4469.

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