Nelson Mandela Death: Excerpts of His Rivonia Speech
These excerpts are from one of the many defining speeches that Nelson Mandela gave, a statement from the Rivonia trial where he was found guilty of sabotage. In it he gives a clear answer to accusations of communism, and the reasons the ANC chose sabotage over other forms of active resistance. After he was sentenced he would not be heard again for decades.
I have always regarded myself, in the first place, as an African patriot. I was born in Mthatha, 46 years ago. My guardian was my cousin, who was the acting paramount chief of Tembuland, and I am related both to the present paramount chief of Tembuland, Sabata Dalindyebo, and to Kaizer Matanzima, the chief minister of the Transkei.
As I understand the state case… the suggestion is that Umkhonto was the inspiration of the Communist Party which sought by playing upon imaginary grievances to enrol the African people into an army which ostensibly was to fight for African freedom, but in reality was fighting for a communist state.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact the suggestion is preposterous. Umkhonto was formed by Africans to further their struggle for freedom in their own land.
Our fight is against real, and not imaginary, hardships or, to use the language of the state prosecutor, so-called hardships. Basically, we fight against two features which are the hallmarks of African life in South Africa and which are entrenched by legislation which we seek to have repealed.
These features are poverty and lack of human dignity, and we do not need communists or so-called agitators to teach us about these things.