Nelson Mandela’s legacy

Thursday, 19 December 2013

It was interesting to read the article in The Guardian by Seumas Milne – Mandela has been sanitised by hypocrites and apologists, 12/12/13, about the true supporters of the anti-apartheid movement, and those who now proclaim that they supported ending apartheid.These are the very people who are now supporting a new apartheid between rich and poor.

Woodcraft Folk played a part in trying to support the struggle against apartheid and one of the ways was by sending supplies to the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO), a school established by the ANC for South African children living in exile in Tanzania during the apartheid era.

This school was set up in the name of Solomon Mahlangu, an anti-apartheid freedom fighter executed by the white regime in 1979, at the age of 23. On April 7th 1993 The Guardian carried an article about Solomon Mahlangu and Nelson Mandela can be seen leading the mourners at the re-interment of his body.

In 1988, Woodcraft Folk brought over a small group of children from the school to an International Camp. They did not require visas at this time, and a few from the group came back to visit over the next few years, as firm friendships had been formed. (The accompanying picture shows the son of one of the original children visiting a Woodcraft Folk group 'Mahlangu Venturers' on 11th December 2013, some 25 years after this first visit.)

Mahlangu Venturers, so-named after Solomon Mahlangu, was set up in 1990 after the historic first visit of a group of British children from Woodcraft Folk to SOMAFCO. However a new kind of apartheid seems to be in operation now, with stringent visa regulations now in force so that it is difficult for all but the rich from entering, Britain for a visit. Woodcraft Folk maintains a defiantly international outlook; indeed our motto is ‘Span the World with Friendship.’ The struggle continues....

Sarah Susman

Read more about Woodcraft Folk's visa campaign here