Leader in the shadows
May 8, 2017
Johannesburg, South Africa:The Backroom Boy opens dramatically in China, 1962. Andrew Mlangeni is one of a small select group undergoing military training there. The unannounced visitor is Mao Tse-Tung or Chairman Mao as he was known, Chairman of the Communist Party of China.
Mlangeni was selected as one of the first-ever six members who received military training in China before the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. He seems to have been chosen because he was a dedicated, intelligent and dependable operative, rather than a leader.
He is a struggle stalwart, Rivonia Trialist, and Robben Island prisoner 467/64 who was next door inmate to Nelson Mandela’s acclaimed 466/64 prison number. Released after 26 years of incarceration, he served as Member of Parliament, and is Chairman of the ANC’s Integrity Commission and Founder of the June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation. With the passing of Ahmed Kathrada (March 2017), Mlangeni (91) is one of only two Rivonia Trialist still alive with Denis Goldberg.
Even after his release after 25 years on Robben Island, Mlangeni was not given a senior position in the post-apartheid democratic government. "I was always the backroom boy," says Mlangeni about himself.
This story of an ANC elder is a well-researched historical record overlaid with intensely personal reflections which intersect with the political narrative. This biographical project has been developed for and published in conjunction with, the June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation.
The book is available from all bookshops and will be the book of the month in June at Exclusive Books stores.
Order the book online from http://witspress.co.za/catalogue/the-backroom-boy/