Cry the Beloved Country which made a big impact on me, not least of all because at the time my father had been sent by his employers to work in South Africa. He vowed not to return.
In all the positive comments about Mandela this morning it is worth recalling that at the time we faced a lot of abuse for our support of the anti apartheid movement. The Calvinist Dutch Reform Church found theological justification for apartheid 'separated development' much as some of the same tradition today assert that their misogyny is justified by the sincere religious belief in 'male headship'. Tories queued up to denounce Mandela and those of us who supported his cause. And who can forget the Conservative Students tee shirts that proclaimed 'Hang Nelson Mandela'.
I am indebted to the disgruntled radical for collecting some the quotes:
"The ANC is a typical terrorist organisation ... Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land" - Margaret Thatcher, 1987
"How much longer will the Prime Minister allow herself to be kicked in the face by this black terrorist?' - Terry Dicks, Conservative MP, mid-1980s
"Nelson Mandela should be shot" - Teddy Taylor Conservative MP, mid-1980s
Margaret Thatcher called him a terrorist. Tory MPs trooped off to South Africa and so gave succour to the regime. Most of all I recall the Winterton's. I fought two General Elections against Mrs Winterton. She delighted in campaigning against liberal causes and her visits to South Africa and the hospitality she received were worn like a badge of honour. She was finally undone by her telling of racist jokes and the expenses scandal. Her husband once told me a racist story and clearly thought I was 'unmanly' and one of the politically correct people he despised when I pointedly did not laugh. Needless to say they did not join us when the Free Nelson Mandela march wound its way through Cheshire.
It was in the September of that year when the march made its way through the country that I remember the Glee Club at the Liberal Assembly and Simon Hughes teaching the words of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
Desmond Tutu reminded us last night that Mandela was not called Nelson as a child 'When he was born in 1918 in the rural village of Mvezo, he was named Rolihlahla, or "troublemaker." All his life he made trouble. He confronted the comfortable establishment. I have no doubt that Mandel's clear vision to build a 'Rainbow nation' to champion multi culturalism and to confound those who strive for a pure national identity will be his lasting legacy. The world grows smaller and there are always those who wish to exploit the fear and insecurity of frightened people with simple tales of nationalism. One of the great cleavages in politics today is between the warping influence of nationalism and internationalism, between those who want to put up barriers and those who want to break them down. Today all nations have to look beyond themselves to the oneness of the world not to the integrity of the nation. Mandela's great influence was not born out the power of his army or the size of his nations GDP but by moral vision that we all human beings are born equal and must live together in one rainbow world. The difference of ethnicity, nationalism, history matter far less than the humanity have in common.