Unisa Press

Mandela & Mbeki

The Hero and the Outsider

Author: Lucky Mathebe
ISBN: 978-1-86888-660-9
Prices: R 280 | $ 37 | £ 15 | € 20
This book is not available in electronic format

About the book

Mandela & Mbeki: The Hero and the Outsider presents a comparative historical study of the narrative of Mandela and Mbeki and its grip on the South African imagination. A persistent theme among historical narratives of South African presidential politics was that Mandela is a ‘hero’, and that his style embodied an inclusive approach. His former deputy and successor, on the other side, was regarded a little harshly as a ‘prince’.

This book is concerned with the historical contexts in which these two narratives were centred, and takes the reader on a journey of what South African history could look like when Mandela, a character of legend, is cast in the role of an introverted ruler, and Mbeki as manifesting the sense of an outsider. Mbeki had a reputation for being ‘an opinionated foreigner’ in his country’s present politics of avant-gardism and universalism.

The author presents a picture of the period 1912–2008 and organises his account around a number of themes of current interest: the ‘invention’ of traditions and modern nations, Black Consciousness, the ANC, the PAC, the working class, and the middle class. He writes a stimulating account with a great deal of interesting detail, taking the debate about his two protagonists beyond the ‘orthodox’ platform to which it had been taken in the mid-1990s. Lucky Mathebe sets out to demonstrate, on the one hand, that Mandela’s legend amounts to a great deal more than the surge of his charisma, and that his Republicans’ avant-gardism did much to make him the leader he became. On the other hand, he demonstrates that Mbeki was a pragmatist and a ‘hyphenate’ leader, both by custom and by principle, and was historically programmed by his exile past into the primordialist he became.

Table of content

What is ‘greatness’ exactly?
The peculiarities of Mandela and Mbeki

What makes ‘Republicans’ Republicans?
‘We would still have chosen Frank and Lucille!’

When Mandela and Mbeki descend wildly into ‘novelistic’ fiction
‘Imagined communities’ and the stereotypes of Calpurnia and Julius Caesar

‘Who first’ and who is the ‘martial captain’ of the class?
Of the ‘commoners’ and ‘bourgeois’ people

‘This thing of us is more than a comrades’ club’
The ‘medieval’ mentality of the ANC

‘The Prince William inheritance’ of Thabo Mbeki
‘Oh by the way, I have decided that you will be my Deputy President’

‘Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t’
‘Hyphenation’, ‘dehyphenation’, and the ‘modern presidency’

Stuck on the wrong and right side of history
Why Mr Mbeki lost his Presidency and why Mr Mandela did not

Reflections on the problems of paternal power and nostalgia
Why Mr Mbeki was clearly a ‘patriarchalist’ and why Mr Maldela
was clearly a ‘Republican’.