What a Lost Prison Manuscript Reveals About the Real Nelson Mandela

Rian Malan, The Spectator, January 18, 2014

This is a story about Nelson Mandela, and it begins on Robben Island in 1974. Prisoner number 466/64 is writing up his life story, working all night and sleeping all day. Finished pages go to trusted comrades who write comments and queries in the margins. The text is then passed to one Laloo Chiba, who transcribes it in ‘microscopic’ letters on to sheets of paper which are later inserted into the binding of notebooks and carried off the island by Mac Maharaj when he is released in 1976.

Outside, the intrepid Mac turns the microscopic text into a typescript and sends it to London, where it becomes the Higgs boson of literary properties, known to exist but not seen since it passed into the hands of the South African Communist Party, or SACP, in 1977. Years pass; the mystery deepens. Mandela goes from being an obscure South African prisoner to possibly the most famous living human, subject of global adulation and a ghostwritten autobiography that sells 15 million. His cult is such that prints of his hands are sold for thousands, and yet the prison manuscript stays missing. Until last week, when Professor Stephen Ellis of the University of Leiden sent out an email saying: ‘You’ll never guess what I’ve just found in the online archive of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.’

So yes, the lost manuscript has come back to us and, with it, a range of fascinating questions. Why was it not published earlier? Why did it surface now? And above all, what light does it shed on Mandela’s Awkward Secret, first reported by Professor Ellis in 2011?

Everyone thought Mandela was a known entity, but he turns out to have led a double life, at least for a time. By day, he was or pretended to be a moderate democrat, fighting to free his people in the name of values all humans held sacred. But by night he donned the cloak and dagger and became a leader of a fanatical sect known for its attachment to the totalitarian Soviet ideal.

When Ellis first aired this theory, it read like a Cold War thriller, but when Mandela died last month, the African National Congress and the SACP both issued statements confirming that it was true: at the time of his arrest in 1962, Nelson Mandela was a member of the SACP’s innermost central committee.

This, then, is why Ellis and I were dizzy with excitement when the prison manuscript turned up last week: here was a rich new source of virgin material to be scanned for the smoking gun, the inside and untold story of Mandela’s secret life as a communist plotter. Alas, the smoking gun was not there. But the prison manuscript does offer insights into the manner in which Mandela’s image has been manipulated over the decades.

It is common cause that the ANC decided in the 1960s to use Mandela as the anti-apartheid movement’s official poster boy. He was the obvious choice, a tall, clean-limbed tribal prince, luminously charismatic, married to the telegenic Winnie, and reduced by cruel circumstance to living martyrdom on a prison island. All you had to do was cleanse him of the communist taint and Bob’s your uncle: four decades down the road, you have the president of the USA getting weepy as he describes Mandela’s lifelong struggle for ‘your freedom, your democracy’. There’s no accounting for taste, but one wonders if Barack Obama would have said that if he’d known his hero batted for the opposition during the Cold War.

‘I hate all forms of imperialism, and I consider the US brand to be the most loathsome and contemptible.’

‘To a nationalist fighting oppression, dialectical materialism is like a rifle, bomb or missile. Once I understood the principle of dialectical materialism, I embraced it without hesitation.’

‘Unquestionably, my sympathies lay with Cuba [during the 1962 missile crisis]. The ability of a small state to defend its independence demonstrates in no uncertain terms the superiority of socialism over capitalism.’

Whoa! That’s not Mandela, is it? Well, yes. These quotes come from the prison manuscript, which turns out to be the first draft of Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela’s famous 1994 autobiography. Much of the first draft is carried forth into the finished book, but these problematic quotes have vanished, along with several other outbreaks of what can only be described as pro-communist harangue. What happened?

Our search for an answer must begin with Rick Stengel, a New York journalist who is now President Obama’s undersecretary for public diplomacy. In the 1980s, Stengel did a tour of duty in South Africa, where he exhibited sensitivity to the hardships of black people and enthusiasm for their ANC liberators, surely one of the factors that led to his eventual appointment as Mandela’s ghostwriter.

Among the raw materials he was given to work with was the prison manuscript, a sprawling 637-page affair with many uneven passages and no clear ending. Stengel proceeded to turn this sow’s ear into Long Walk to Freedom, a blockbuster that considerably boosted the Mandela legend and formed the basis for a movie of the same title, now doing boffo box office around the planet.

In what follows, there is an element of conjecture. Since Mr Stengel is the ghostwriter of record, it seems logical to infer that he made the changes, even if we have no other basis for saying so. Pending clarification, let’s note that Stengel was a New York liberal who would instantly have realised that stridency was undesirable, especially if it sounded a bit Russian. Clearly those lines about the Cuban missile crisis and the evils of Yankee imperialism had to go. Beyond that, the changes are usually quite subtle—a quote dropped here, a shift in emphasis there. Having read both manuscripts several times, I think it’s fair to say that Stengel appears to have cleaned up Mandela’s act in three critical areas.

The first was his premature conversion to violence. Officially, Mandela was a moderate black nationalist, clinging to hope of peaceful change until it was extinguished by the Sharpeville massacre of 1960. But in the prison memoir we find him plotting war as early as 1953, when he sent a comrade on a secret mission to beg guns and money from Red China, in flagrant violation of the ANC’s non-aligned and non-violent stance.

‘I was bitter and felt ever more strongly that SA whites need another Isandlwana,’ he explains. Driving around the country, Mandela constantly imagines rural landscapes as battlefields and cities as places where one day soon ‘the sweet air will smell of gunfire, elegant buildings will crash down and streets will be splashed with blood’. These vivid quotes did not make it into the bestseller.

The second area is his endorsement of force against opponents. In April 1958, the ANC called a three-day national strike which drew little or no support and had to be called off in humiliating circumstances. In Long Walk, Mandela notes that the strike was completely effective in towns where it was enforced by violence or pickets. ‘I have always resisted such methods,’ he says, but goes on to reason that coercion is acceptable in cases where a dissident minority is blocking a majority. ‘A minority should not be able to frustrate the will of the majority,’ he concludes.

But in the prison manuscript, he says the opposite. ‘This is not a question of principle or wishful thinking,’ he says. ‘If force will advance [the struggle],then it must be used whether or not the majority agrees with us.’ Pardon my italics, but it’s important to understand what you’re looking at here: the rewrite makes Mandela sound reasonable. The original is Stalinism. Who determines the course of struggle? It is the communist vanguard, imbued with higher wisdoms derived from the gospel of dialectical materialism. And if the majority talks back, they must be smashed. As they were in the final bloody phase of the struggle here. And everywhere else in Planet Soviet.

The third area of amendment involved errors of even-handedness. I thought I knew South African history, but one section of the prison manuscript surprised me. (The section beginning on page 304, if you must know. The entire book is available at http://specc.ie/longwalkms). I’d heard of the Alexandra bus boycott of 1957, in which a determined display of people power forced capitalists to withdraw a fare increase. But I was totally ignorant of ANC-led boycotts against Langeberg, a giant food-canning operation, and United Tobacco; both corporations were forced to deal with African unions and grant wage increases.

Emboldened, the ANC tackled cruel potato farmers, and brought them down too. Soon it was organising consumer boycotts all over the country, and often winning. At the same time, it was behind the ceaseless protests against the pass laws for women while winning stunning victories in the Treason Trial and elsewhere. The cost in ANC lives: zero. ‘To the best of my knowledge,’ writes Mandela, ‘no individuals [meaning political detainees] were isolated, forced to give information, beaten up, tortured, crippled or killed’ prior to December 1961, when the communists started their bombing campaign (see page 302).

Clearly, this could not be allowed to stand. It spoils the plot completely! So Stengel cut it, allowing Long Walk to soar towards to its moral epiphany. Provoked beyond endurance by oppression, Mandela convinces the ANC’s timid old guard that it is time to fight back. With their blessing, he goes on to form MK, ‘military wing of the ANC’, which launches a bombing campaign against non-human targets.

If we are to believe Stephen Ellis and Irina Filatova, a Russian historian who has also published on the subject, all of this is doubtful or fabricated. The decision to go to war was actually taken by the Communist party, meeting in a prosperous white suburb, in a marquee where black Africans were outnumbered around two to one by white and Indian intellectuals. ANC president Albert Luthuli did not endorse the move to violence and MK was not the military wing of the ANC at all—it was the sole creation of the Communist party, and everyone involved in its high command was openly or secretly a communist.

You will find nothing of this in Long Walk, of course. Is that Stengel’s fault? I think not. Mandela’s secret was still a secret in the early 1990s, and Stengel was a hired hand, taking instructions from God knows who. I attempted to elicit a comment, but Mr Stengel failed to get back to me. Another man who might be able to shed light on the mystery is Mac Maharaj, the man who smuggled the original out of prison, now a spokesman and adviser in the office of President Zuma. But he didn’t return my calls either.

We will therefore have to turn to Hollywood to complete this story. I went to see the movie version of Long Walk to Freedom armed with a pen and ready to fight yet another rearguard action for Afrikaner honour, only to find myself disarmed by the director Justin Chadwick’s take on the Mandela story. No one really expects movies to be true, and this one certainly isn’t. It’s a fable about a brave man who sticks up for what he believes in and, against all odds, wins in the end. Music swells, titles roll and I must hide the fact that I am moved. (Yes, I am a sucker.)

Then I borrow an electronic copy of the script and run a search for the word ‘communist’. Two scenes come up. In one, a white policeman jostles Mandela while saying, ‘Ag, everyone knows you’re a bloody communist!’ In another, a white police general appears at the scene of a bombing and says, ‘This is the work of communist terrorists . . . .’ Both cops are clearly intended to be taken as racist buffoons. This is a perfect distillation of the traditional left-liberal position on Mandela. For decades it was gospel. Now, it’s inadvertently funny.

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  • D.B. Cooper

    Here’s what I think is going to happen to this story…

    • Erasmus

      They may try, but with the internet no story can remain buried forever.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Mandela on his mindset back in the 50s: “I was bitter and felt ever more strongly SA whites need another Isandlwana.”

      This is a chilling reference to the 1879 Battle of Isandlwana where 22,000 Zulus massacred 1,350 British soldiers.

      • Alfred the Great

        Reading what he said about Isandlwana really chapped my butt.

      • NeanderthalDNA

        Typical passive aggressive Marxist BS.

        Push, push, provoke, and when someone pushes back –

        Scream like a b!tch and use it as an excuse to liquidate your enemies.

  • John Ulfsson

    I don’t think this really comes as a surprise to anybody.

  • Jesse James

    Nelson Mandela is just another dead communist. Time to leave him to the worms.

    • D.B. Cooper

      Aint gonna happen, Holmes.
      Our leaders will make sure there is at least one Mandela street in every city, and one school in every county named after him. A republican will be cutting the ribbon when that school opens.

      • Alfred the Great

        Just like mlk, who was nothing more than a womanizing thug. I can’t wait until the statue goes up in D.C. for mandela, right next to mlk. What a pair.

        • bilderbuster

          Right next to the Holocaust Museum.

          • The Bogeyman

            A.k.a. the Haul o’ Cash museum.

          • blight14


          • QuinnTheEskimo9

            Or…There’s no business like Shoah business.

          • Guest

            Did you forget something™?

          • bilderbuster

            The Trademark is a myth.

      • bilderbuster

        MLK is always the worst street in the worst part of town LOL!
        The only good thing about an MLK Blvd. is that if an out of town White person is lost & they see the sign before they see the inhabitants they know to get the hell out of there in a hurry.

        • PvtCharlieSlate

          Isn’t that the truth!
          While you can, pack up and get as far away as possible from any place that has a MLK Blvd before it’s too late.

      • AndrewInterrupted

        No group can nurse a martyr better than the Left.

      • Max

        I’m pretty sure they can get Glenn Beck to do the honors.

      • Jesse James

        Wonder what was so offensive about my post, he is just another dead communist.

      • Mark Hillyard

        Most people are aware enough now to avoid any street named MLK Blvd. etc.

      • Anon

        And just like every single street named after MLK, every single Mandela ave will be a potent reminder of what black people really are.

  • Truthseeker

    The legacy of Mandela the figurehead deserves no honor.

  • Why did they have to hide this?

    First off, there was plenty of evidence before he kicked off that he was thrown in with out and outright communists.

    Second, are we supposed to be shocked that there’s a nice smooth continuum between racial egalitarianism and communism? Are we supposed to think that Mandela’s communism was in spite of his belief in racial equality? When in reality they are the same thing.

    • David Ashton

      The identification between racial egalitarianism and communism explains why the “liberals” are comparatively indifferent to the crimes of the latter, and why God is now Nelson and Satan is now Adolf, as I suggested in a post that made Stewball have a coughing fit.

    • Svigor

      Lots of things have led me to the Machiavellian belief that politics is all about power.

      The Nazis believed w, x, and y, and killed z people, so all civilized people must hate the Nazis and oppose w, x, and y.

      The commies believed t, u, and v, and killed z*10 people, so it’s okay for civilized people to be sympathetic to communism, and most importantly, they must believe t, u, and v.

      It makes no sense, unless one understands that the Machiavellian belief that politics is all about power is the correct one. Money is the only explanation for this dichotomy.

      Leftists aren’t more persuasive, smarter, or righteous. They certainly don’t have a more eloquent or persuasive worldview.

      They just have more money.

      • It’s not just about power, it’s about Who-Whom.

        • Svigor

          I’m talking about who’s winning, and why, not motivations. A great many on our side, even, seem to have internalized the delusion that the left is winning for some reason other than plutocrat money.

  • MekongDelta69

    Not new news.


    (God, I’m sorry to complain, but I hate still having to put “[dot]” instead of simply putting the actual, direct link as other sites allow.)

    • IstvanIN

      I put links in. They have to be approved by the moderator first, but as long as they are on topic and not a link to something nasty I have never had a problem.

      • MekongDelta69

        I know you can insert direct URLs. What I mean is exactly what you said.

        If the Mod gets around to it quickly, it’s topical and relevant.
        However, I’ve seen “Comment awaiting moderation” (b/c of a link) sitting for a day or more, and by that time, nobody will read it.
        That’s why I do what I do, even though it’s annoying.

  • Massif1

    Mandela’s legacy will be the same as “civil rights” activist King. When the truth will be uncovered by future generations, the media and society will look the other way. Remember, criticizing minorities is racist and will not be tolerated in America, EU, Australia, and New Zealand.

    • David Ashton

      We have to ensure there are “future generations”.

  • Erasmus

    To paraphrase an old Swahili saying: “Scratch a black leader and you’ll almost always find a race hustler aimed at getting gibmedats from whitey by fair means or foul.”

  • sbuffalonative

    Have any of the facts we know about Saint MLK done anything to tarnish his halo?

    As I always say, liberalism is a mental illness characterized by an inability to accept reality.

    To a ‘progressive’ liberal, feelings trump facts.

    • David Ashton

      White guilt + black envy = red rule.

      • Max

        That’s a contender for the “race card project” contest, I’d say.

        • David Ashton

          It wasn’t intended as a competition entry, but thanks!

      • Jesse James

        Fortunately they are running out of white guilt.

  • Tarczan

    “There’s no accounting for taste, but one wonders if Barack Obama would have said that if he’d known his hero batted for the opposition during the Cold War.

    ‘I hate all forms of imperialism, and I consider the US brand to be the most loathsome and contemptible.’

    ‘To a nationalist fighting oppression, dialectical materialism is like a rifle, bomb or missile. Once I understood the principle of dialectical materialism, I embraced it without hesitation.’

    ‘Unquestionably, my sympathies lay with Cuba [during the 1962 missile crisis]. The ability of a small state to defend its independence demonstrates in no uncertain terms the superiority of socialism over capitalism.’”

    This guy is really naive. this is EXACTLY what Barry thinks.

  • LACounty

    A conveniently lost manuscript that wouldn’t matter to the boneheads that praise him.

  • Alfred the Great

    I heard on talk radio that all mandela had to say to be released from prison was, “I renounce terrorism.” But he wouldn’t say it. He was a communist thug who wanted his do-nothing brothers to get something for nothing. Now, all that I can say is, “Those poor South Africans; sold out by their own government.” That should sound familiar because in the not too distant future, some people will be saying the same thing about White Americans.

    • ncpride

      There’s a video on YouTube called ‘The Truth about Nelson Mandela’ that’s worth a look. Communist thug doesn’t begin to cover it.

      • Alfred the Great

        I’ll give it a look see, thanks!

      • Alfred the Great

        If I may ask, is the ‘nc’ for North Carolina?

        • ncpride

          It is. I wanted NC Pride, but that username was taken, so I tried different variations until I found an unused one.

          • Alfred the Great

            My family came into the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1610 and down through the State of North Carolina on their way to the Greatest State of Texas. Many of my ancestors fought in the State of North Carolina regiments during the war. Excellent monument to those soldiers’ valor and sense of duty at the Gettysburg battlefield. If we had only won that battle.

          • ncpride

            I traced my first ancestors back to 1643, and we’ve been here ever since, although we have spread out from the mountains to the coast of North Carolina. My people also fought the Civil War in NC regiments, so it’s safe to say our ancestors fought together on the right side of history.

          • Sick of it

            My NC ancestors fought in the American Revolution.

    • bilderbuster

      I’m saying it NOW!

  • Spartacus

    ‘To a nationalist fighting oppression, dialectical materialism is like a
    rifle, bomb or missile. Once I understood the principle of dialectical
    materialism, I embraced it without hesitation.’


    So you memorized some gibberish that doesn’t really mean anything ? Good boy !

    • Jesse James

      I think his real understanding of dialectical materialism was if I embrace communism maybe the Russians or some other crazy white group will send me some money and weapons to kill whites.

  • dd121

    So? He was a communist and our leaders who praise him are communists. Thinking people, like the ones on AmRen already know this.

  • Spartacus

    By the way, in case anyone’s interested what Mandela was actually involved with during his struggle for “freedom”, here’s a shortlist :

    • Max

      Didn’t he play X! in “The Gods Must Be Crazy”?

  • Bantu_Education

    Mac Maharaj is a typically slimy SA Indian communist. I read a patronising news article in which he spoke of the “horrors” of prison life on Robben Island – breaking rocks in the harsh sun, and such-like. But in the very same article he boasted about how by reading the “Economist” (subscription paid for by evil white S.Africans) he and the other ANC communists learnt about the benefits of capitalism. He boasted that the “Dof” (thick) Afrikaaner jailers had no idea how subversive this magazine was. (the Economist, for those who don’t know it, is very political – it is not just about economics).

    I wonder if Castro’s political prisoners were given similar benefits?

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      Benefits like this?

      • emiledurk16


  • bigone4u

    Mandela a phony? What else is new?

    White liberals create these unreal “saints”–Mandela and King–not because they are worthy of sainthood, but because they advance the cause of multiculturalism and egalitarianism.

    I seriously doubt that either Mandela or King, whose works were written for them, could understand the sophisticated reasoning of the ancient Greeks, the enlightment, or the Founding Fathers in the US. Mandela and King as portrayed are no more real than James Bond, the Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    I see no point in praising murderers, communists and terrorists.

    Mandela does not deserve sainthood for blowing up government building and killing innocent people, a lot of them; Timothy McVeigh was executed for doing the same thing.

    top-secret Soviet documents show that the African National Congress of the South Africa (AFC) was supported by the Soviet Union…The Leftist anti-Apartheid campaign was driven by the Soviets because to it took away from Reagan and Thatcher’s focus on the Soviet Union as the center of evil in the world…With Soviet ally Jonas Savimbi to the northwest in Angola and Soviet ally Robert Mugabe to the northeast of South Africa, the plan was and the prize for the Soviets would have been the abundant mineral wealth (gold and diamonds in particular) including strategic military minerals like cobalt which reside in SA.

    Mandela’s legacy: South Africa is the murder capital of the world, where a woman is raped every 30 seconds, often by AIDS carriers who go unpunished, and Whites are persecuted minority victims of a government which scorns the principles of equality and freedom.

    In the modern age, Nelson Mandela will be remembered as an unsurpassed healer of human hearts. By dint of his character, sacrifice, vision and abounding love, he won a revolution without shedding blood, founded a peaceful nation in a land of turmoil, and personified principle in a world searching for integrity.

    –Mitt Romney

    • emiledurk16

      Excellent juxtaposition with the before and after photo. (I gotta learn how to insert)
      Looks like Detroit then and now.
      Thanks for posting that troubling bottom photo. The media doesn’t want us to see that.

  • Erasmus

    Before the internet few new that his real name was Michael King. The truth really is out there.

  • Mark Hillyard

    I’ve read a little on South African History and find it very different from what we generally read in American media. If the history I read is accurate then the Black Bantu’s et al are no more entitled to the land then North African Arabs.
    It seems that the whole South African area was not inhabited until the whites showed up. It appears that the Dutch have more rights to the land than any Black tribes ever did. (Perhaps they showed up at the same time.) However I’m no expert on this as I’ve only read a small portion of the history of South Africa, but it’s interesting as it shows a great deal of bias towards the Boers etc.

    • Martel

      Any suggestions for further reading?

      • QuinnTheEskimo9

        Look here in the American Renaissance archive on South Africa. There are a lot of really great articles, including SA’s history.

        Mark Hillyard is quite correct the history of this area is FAR different from what the media and history textbooks tell us.

    • newscomments70

      We were taught to hate South African whites, but I have grown to respect them over the years. I now having a feeling of solidarity with them, as we are facing the same genocide in our countries.

  • Mark Hillyard

    He stole ‘Martin Luther’ for obvious reasons.

  • ncpride

    Hey, thanks. I’ll check it out.

  • Zaporizhian Sich

    Imagine how many whites would be alive today if this thug was dragged from his cell, tortured then shot dead. There are many, many more communists and anti-white genocidists like him who also should have been put to death.

  • QuinnTheEskimo9

    http COLON //www DOT martinlutherking DOT org/

  • Garrett Brown

    They ran out of ammo unfortunately.

    • Anon

      This is the most important lesson to learn. Most of the White world is stupid beyond belief.
      American Whites are different. 10 billion bullets a week are produced and they just fly off the shelves.

      • Garrett Brown

        We’re not more intelligent. Marxists just haven’t infiltrated every nook and crevice of our system yet. We still fight to keep the secon amendment. Many European countries could own firearms before WW2, then we told them they couldn’t.

        With bolt action rifles that shoot 7.62 ammunition it’s very hard to carry sufficient amounts of ammo. Especially when you’re outnumbered 16 to 1. You can be assured it put the Bantus down however. They fought very bravely, just too many of them.

  • jane johnson

    It’s time to let this POS go down the memory hole. We all know what he was, and further discussion only wastes our time.

    • NoMosqueHere

      A Waste is a Terrible Thing to Mind.

      Another secular saint fraud.

      • jane johnson

        A waist is a terrible thing to mind was an advertising promotion for weight-watchers, and has had no discernible effect.

        • NoMosqueHere

          Was that really a Weight Watchers slogan? lol.

  • Svigor

    Stengel…is that a Scots-Irish name? Eskimo? Finnish?

  • Ryan Styles

    Whether this story gets buried or not is not relevant. There simply are not enough people who know the truth, or those willing to act on it, for anything to happen. The Media has created the “Saint Mandela” persona, and that’s how it’s gonna – regardless of the facts or the tragedies pertaining to his true character.