Mantashe turns history teacher
A GROUP of matric pupils at an East Rand school was yesterday given a history lesson with a difference.
The teacher? ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
Pupils from Thuto Lesedi Secondary School in Vosloorus listened attentively as Mantashe relived South Africa's anti-colonial and anti-apartheid history from 1652 to 1994.
Mantashe arrived at 9am, an hour after schooling began - the time when his 67 minute lesson was due to begin as part of celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day yesterday.
Honouring the former statesman, Mantashe told pupils that Mandela had always worked within a collective.
"Mandela never worked as an individual. He always took decisions as part of a collective," he said.
Mantashe said this was not always the case with today's youth.
"The spirit of volunteering has died and it's sad for our country. I'm sure if I had to ask anyone of you to carry out a task you would want to be paid," he lamented.
The pupils agreed without hesitation.
Mantashe also told them about the history of the ANC and the South African Communist Party.
He said: "The unique thing about ANC secretary-generals, from (Walter) Sisulu to Mantashe, is that they were all communists.
"It's never been said. You don't talk about it. you whisper it but that is a topic for another day."
Asked why little was known about 1976 student activist Tsietsi Mashinini, Mantashe said: "When he went into exile he hoped to establish an organisation that was separate (from the liberation movement).
He didn't go into the ANC, so the ANC cannot tell his story.
"That was the most unfortunate thing about that young man - he disappeared."
Mashinini died in Conakry, Guinea, in 1990.
Mantashe also took a swipe at suggestions that apartheid's last president, FW de Klerk, unbanned liberation organisations and freed Mandela out of the goodness of his heart.
"We didn't get freedom as a favour from FW de Klerk. There was a mess and FW had to clean it up. Actually, in the National Party, he was one of the verkamptes (conservatives)."
De Klerk recently fended off criticism stemming from comments he made during an interview with CNN in which he seemed to defend the homeland system by saying: "They were not disenfranchised, they voted. They were not put in homelands, the homelands were historically there."
De Klerk later released a statement arguing that his statements were taken out of context. - firstname.lastname@example.org