Thank You a Thousand Times

WHAT do you do when you are South Africa’s new president and you want to throw a thank-you party for all the people who struggled alongside you during apartheid’s dark years? When Nelson Mandela faced this dilemma, he summoned one-time organiser of the Federation of South African Women and ANC stalwart, Amina Cachalia.

It was a tall order: round up veterans of the struggle scattered across the country and around the world.
“After meeting President Mandela some two months ago, a committee was set up with Walter Sisulu, his secretary Rica Hodgson, Joe Slovo, Mac Maharaj and my husband Yusuf,” said Cachalia.
Not only ANC supporters were invited. The guest list included stalwarts from the Liberal Party, stalwarts from the Pan Africanist Congress, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Azanian People’s Organisation and even someone who has since joined the National Party.
“We asked organisations to give us a list of names and addresses of all their veterans,” Cachalia said. “We even sent scouts in search of people out in the rural areas.” In her hunt for old comrades, Cachalia also dug into her own archive of contacts.
More than 1 000 people turned up for the Veterans’ Banquet at Mandela’s Pretoria residence last weekend.
There were poignant moments as old friends met again across the divide of years. “It was great. People saw each other for the first time in years. In fact, some comrades you thought were dead arrived for the banquet.”
While about 25 people travelled from London, Israel and New York for the celebration, veterans in other parts of the world where the ANC still has offices also celebrated.
Revellers in London saw Mandela make his speech at the banquet via a satellite link-up.

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Related stories

The poet who didn’t want to be premier

Expelled from the University of the North for his political activities, he joined the ANC in 1978 and Umkhonto weSizwe in 1980.

Excluded students terrorise colleges

Youths refused admission to teacher training colleges are terrorising student teachers.

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

DRC: Tshisekedi and Kabila fall out

The country’s governing coalition is under strain, which could lead to even more acrimony ahead

Editorial: Crocodile tears from the coalface

Pumping limited resources into a project that is predominantly meant to extend dirty coal energy in South Africa is not what local communities and the climate needs.

Klipgat residents left high and dry

Flushing toilets were installed in backyards in the North West, but they can’t be used because the sewage has nowhere to go

Nehawu leaders are ‘betraying us’

The accusation by a branch of the union comes after it withdrew from a parliamentary process

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…