Nelson Mandela drew inspiration from China

26May 2021
Correspondent
Johannesburg
The Guardian
Nelson Mandela drew inspiration from China

TUESDAY marks Africa Day, a day when African people commemorate their united stand against imperialism and colonialism, defending national sovereignty and independence and striving for national liberation.

During the South African people's anti-apartheid struggle, the story of the Communist Party of China (CPC) leading the Chinese people to carry out a revolution influenced and inspired many South Africans, including Nelson Mandela, the first post-apartheid president of South Africa.

Mandela mentioned his inspiration drawn from the CPC-led revolution many times in his autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom." He said that after reading "Red Star over China" written by Edgar Snow, he had a deeper understanding of the CPC, the Chinese revolution and the Long March.

In 1964, when he was imprisoned on Robben Island in Cape Town, Mandela kept reading the English version of the "Selected Works" of Mao Zedong in his cell, and from time to time compared the liberation movements of South Africa and the African continent with the Chinese revolution. The freedom fighter once said, "China is the spiritual pillar, which helps me survive the days in Robben Island prison."

"The revolution in China was a masterpiece, a real masterpiece," Mandela said in a dialogue with his old friend Richard Stengel, who collaborated with him on his autobiography, according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

"If you read how they fought that revolution, you believe in the impossible. It's just miraculous," Mandela added.

Historically, the African National Congress, the Communist Party of South Africa and the Congress of South African Trade Unions jointly fought against apartheid. In 1994, the three parties formed a ruling coalition in the nation's first non-racial democratic election, where Mandela was elected as South Africa's first black president.

After his election, Mandela actively promoted the establishment of diplomatic ties with China.

In May 1999, before the end of his presidency, he managed to visit China as South Africa's head of state. Meeting with Chinese leaders, Mandela said that he felt sincere gratitude for the Chinese government and people, as China had offered great support to the South Africans' struggle for independence and against apartheid.

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