Mandela's Kinsmen

Mandela's Kinsmen

Nationalist Elites and Apartheid's First Bantustan

Timothy Gibbs

Personal eBook

James Currey



A novel study of the complex connections between Nelson Mandela and the nationalist leadership in the ANC with their kinsmen inside the Transkei Bantustan state, that reveals the significance of ethnic belonging, so important in African history.
Mandela's Kinsmen is the first study of the fraught relationships between the ANC leadership and their relatives who ruled apartheid's foremost "tribal" Bantustan, the Transkei. In the early 20th century, the chieftaincies had often been well-springs of political leadership. In the Transkei, political leaders, such as Mandela, used regionally rooted clan, schooling and professional connections to vault to leadership; they crafted expansive nationalisms woven from these "kin" identities. But from 1963 the apartheid government turned South Africa's chieftaincies into self-governing, tribal Bantustans in order to shatter African nationalism.
While historians often suggest that apartheid changed everything - African elites being eclipsed by an era of mass township and trade union protest, and the chieftaincies co-opted by the apartheid government - there is another side to this story. Drawing on newly discovered accounts and archives, Gibbs reassesses the Bantustans and the changing politics of chieftaincy, showing how local dissent within Transkei connected to wider political movements and ideologies. Emphasizing the importance of elite politics, he describes how the ANC-in-exile attempted to re-enter South Africa through the Bantustans drawing on kin networks. This failed in KwaZulu, but Transkei provided vital support after a coup in 1987, and the alliances forged were important during the apartheid endgame. Finally, in counterpoint to Africanist debates that focus on how South African insurgencies narrowed nationalist thought and practice, he maintains ANC leaders calmed South Africa's conflicts of the early 1990s by espousing an inclusive nationalism that incorporated local identities, and that "Mandela's kinsmen" still play a key role in state politics today.

Timothy Gibbs is Lecturer in History of Early Modern and Modern Africa, University College London.

Southern Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland & Botswana): Jacana


4 line illustrations
224 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Personal eBook, 9781782042884, March 2014
Hardback, 9781847010896, March 2014
Paperback, 9781847011565, March 2017
Library eBook
James Currey
BISAC HIS047000, POL025000, SOC026020
Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter   Pin it   Share by Email

Related Titles

Liberation Movements in Power

Liberation Movements in Power

Starting at: $29.99

Table of Contents

Introduction: Mandela's Kinsmen
Education, Monarchy and Nationalism
The First Bantustan, 1954-1963
The Second Peasants' Revolt, Mpondoland 1960-1980
The Old Mission Schools, 1963-1980
The Comrade-King, Bantustan Politics, 1964-1980
Chris Hani's Guerrillas, 1974-1987
The Apartheid Endgame, 1987-1996
The New South Africa and Transkei's Collapse, 1990 onwards
Conclusion: African Nationalism and its Fragments


A study such as this one has several important illuminates the shades of grey that are so common in history but so easily overlooked. THE ROUND TABLE

An extraordinarily rich book . . . An essential text for research library collections and scholars working on South African political history and contemporary politics (for there is much evidence that these networks continue to run through the present-day ANC and its rivals), and would also be suited for advanced graduate students. INT'L JOURNAL OF AFRICAN HISTORICAL STUDIES

Gibbs . . . offers one of the few sustained discussions of nationalism and rural politics in South Africa, from the beginning of apartheid during the 1950s to the politics of chieftainship and tribalism today. JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY HISTORY

In this compelling study of Nelson Mandela's kinsmen, Timothy Gibbs brings to life the powerful role that the Transkei, a former South African homeland skirting the country's eastern coast, had played in the nation's liberation struggle. . . . In this web of intrigue that Gibbs spins together, he shows how the environment and the values inculcated from it played a large political role in the connections and relationships of people who would not have met ordinarily. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

Gibbs's book provides a refreshing challenge to studies of insurgency that are rooted exclusively in economic factors or rational choice methodologies. . Gibbs makes important contributions to both the literature on insurgency and to the study of South African politics. THE JOURNAL OF MODERN AFRICAN STUDIES

The Transkei was a Potemkin state; this book effectively chronicles how it really functioned and how it related to Mandela, the African National Congress, and South Africa as a whole. Summing up: Highly recommended. CHOICE

'An important contribution to the field of recent South African history... breaks new scholarly ground in its exploration of the ambiguous relationship between the ANC and Bantustan elites.' - Colin Bundy, Honorary Fellow, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford
'Superbly done. It will gain a wide and deserved large readership, and a respected one, within South Africa and academia generally.' - Roger Southall, Professor Emeritus in Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand