Opposition in South Africa: The Leadership of Z.K. Matthews, Nelson Mandela, and Stephen Biko

By Tim J. Juckes | Go to book overview

1
Introduction

South Africa is in a period of dramatic and truly fundamental transformation. No doubt, by the time this book is published, many questions about South Africa's future will have been settled. No doubt, too, other questions will remain, familiar and intractable.

Many people will agree that analysis of current social change is inherently dangerous, if not foolhardy. Fortunately, this is not a book about South Africa's present, but about its past, written in the belief that a better understanding of current changes is possible if we better understand the past. In particular, it is the story of three influential men who spent their lives in the pursuit of the democratic society that is now emerging. In their own way, in their own time, each is a hero of the struggle.

Zachariah Matthews ( 1901- 1968) was an educational pioneer for black South Africans and became their leading intellectual. His controlled and peaceful opposition, and his willingness to cooperate in state-created structures, reflects his character formation through a system of missionary education that encouraged and reinforced a belief in gradual social liberalization through educational achievement. But successive white governments ignored the protests and intensified their efforts to divide the society racially.

Nelson Mandela (b. 1918) was part of a group of young leaders who shared the older leaders' educational tradition but was frustrated by the ineffectiveness of the "old guard" in reversing the state's growing repres-

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