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A magazine produced by the students and staff of the St Albans School History Department Issue 1

Summer Term 2014

Freedom Fighters in the twentieth century


The Gateway Chronicle

Issue 1 – April 2014

The Gateway Chronicle Produced by the St Albans School History Department Editor: Lucy Bonner Deputy Editors: Milly Garnett, Hannah Brown, Vivien Zhu and Seun Adekoya Staff: Mr Stone From the Editor Welcome to the debut edition of The Gateway Chronicle. My team and I are extremely proud of this first publication, which focuses on freedom fighters and the pivotal, or not so pivotal, role they have played in defining history and shaping the world we live in today. Freedom fighters are controversial figures and many historians believe their role is often over exaggerated. The significance of such freedom fighters, marked by the recent death of Nelson Mandela, highlights the world’s appreciation of such individuals and emphasises how despite their downfalls at times, their commitment to their respective causes will forever be remembered and acknowledged. I believe the focus on freedom fighters makes this edition of The Gateway Chronicle evermore topical and interesting and I hope you enjoy our work. Thank you again to those who have contributed their work and thanks to the team who have helped create this first edition. Lucy Bonner

A brief word from DJS… I’d just like to thank all of the students involved in putting this new publication together, especially Lucy, for all their efforts this year. It is a new venture for 6th form historians at St Albans School and they have set the bar high for future cohorts with this first edition. Well done! DJS

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The Gateway Chronicle

Issue 1 – April 2014

Contents Page 2. From the Editor 4. ‘Gandhi – A fantastic publicist. A disastrous politician’. Benedict Anthoney 6. History & Politics Society lectures: an interview with Dr David Laven (Nottingham University) on ‘Italian Unification and the role of Garibaldi and Cavour’. Seun Adekoya & Vivien Zhu 8. ‘Civil Rights in the 1920s and 1930s’. Robbie Goldstone & Hannah Brown 10. History & Politics Society lectures: an interview with Alex Rutherford OA on ‘Civil Rights in the 1940’s and 1950’s’. Lucy Bonner, Hannah Brown & Milly Garnett 13.‘Nelson Mandela: Greatest freedom fighter of the 20th C?’ Mr D J Stone 17.Junior History Film Club: a film review on ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’. Lauren Rowe 18.History & Politics Society lectures: an interview with Cameron de Vaux-Balbirnie (BBC) on what makes a good history documentary and film making. Lucy Bonner & Katie Clifford

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The Gateway Chronicle

Issue 1 – April 2014

Gandhi – “A fantastic publicist. A disastrous politician” By Benedict Anthoney Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a falsely extolled politician, if you dare to consider him a politician, who did more for his own public appearance and reputation than he did for Indian politics in the twentieth century. Mahatma, literally translating to “Great Soul” from Sanskrit, appears to be a rather indulgent viewpoint of Gandhi in light of much irrational and inexplicable behaviour during his “political” career. From sleeping with his grand-niece to befriending Hitler, Gandhi seems to have another side to him which lies quietly and tactfully behind his reputation as the father of India, much of which has gone unnoticed by the millions, if not billions, who to this day associate him with the likes of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. On further investigation into Gandhi and his political decisions, motives and attitudes, it becomes irrefutably clear that he was clueless in much of what he was doing. He had genuinely convinced himself that his principle of nonviolence and civil disobedience, known as satyagraha, could be universally applied to almost any situation of dispute or war. In 1939, at the time of Hitler’s brutal oppression of the Jewish population in Europe, Gandhi stated that “a single Jew standing up and refusing to bow to Hitler’s decrees,” would likely “melt Hitler’s heart.” It is rather astounding to think that one of the most revered politicians of the twentieth century could genuinely suggest this as a method of relieving the Jewish people from such brutal genocide. Just two years prior to this, Gandhi advised the peoples of Czechoslovakia to adopt his principle of satyagraha, however this time in the face of German storm troopers. It is as if Gandhi had a desire to see the Czech people slaughtered in their thousands. Joseph Lelyveld described Gandhi’s initiatives as, “a mixed-bag, full of trenchant moral insights, desperate appeals and self-deluding simplicities.” Gandhi, although being credited by many with almost single-handedly gaining Indian independence, was undoubtedly one of India’s most reactionary individuals, who had clear intentions of reverting Indian society back to simple village life with almost non-existent economic and political structure or development. Writer, Christopher Hitchens, commented that, “[Gandhi] considered India’s chief enemy to be modernity” arguing that in Gandhi’s opinion both industry and technology should be abhorred. Indeed in 1909 Gandhi himself wrote, “India’s salvation consists in unlearning what she has learnt during the past fifty years. The railways, telegraphs, hospitals, lawyers, doctors, and such like have all to go.” Such a sinister attitude towards his country’s progression from India’s apparent saviour clearly isn’t encouraging for those who thought Gandhi was the liberator of all Indians, when in actual fact it seems the man wished for Indians’ lives to consist of spinning cloth, praying in their hut and of very little else. Gandhi’s behaviour, both in and out of the public eye, was more similarly linked to that of a controversial celebrity desperately seeking the attention of the people as opposed to a sophisticated politician at the forefront of India’s nationalist movement. On multiple occasions Gandhi brought himself close to death through fasting, instead of continuing work within the nationalist movement, in a desperate attempt to gain publicity, sympathy and general attention from anyone that wished to watch. When speaking to Margaret Sanger, Gandhi expressed his support for the opinion that women’s sexual health was of no importance to anyone, proceeding to then give himself a blood4|Page


The Gateway Chronicle Issue 1 – April 2014 pressure attack later on in the interview. There is simply no explanation for behaviour such as this, what goodminded politician, indeed human being, starves themselves for no purpose and deliberately gives themselves a blood-pressure attack during a conversation with someone? Furthermore, Gandhi, although having a family, decided to abstain from sex as part of his cause. He therefore left his family, claiming they were a distraction to his fight for independence. Speaking of family, Gandhi employed his grand-niece, Manu, for the purpose of sleeping in bed with him so as to prove to himself, and anyone else that cared, that he could resist erections. It seems nonsensical to praise Gandhi as an innovative political figure, someone who brought India out of oppression and gave them freedom, when he spends most of his time lying in bed with young relatives and other beautiful girls just to prove he can resist erections. In no way was the nationalist movement propelled by this nor did anyone benefit from it. Lastly, Gandhi was comprehensively anti-British, to the point where he became closer to Hitler than he was with any British Prime Minister and on many occasions the viceroy’s staff would intercept correspondence between Gandhi and Hitler. As well as this Gandhi supported the weak and impractical Khilafat movement, because by that time even the Turks had rejected the rule of the sultan, but in any case it was anti-British and so of course Gandhi got behind it even though he was Hindu. In the words of Hitchens, the opportunity that the movement gave Gandhi to be seen in public, appearing to be doing something worthwhile, “trumped its quixotry” All of Gandhi’s anti-British feeling was perhaps compiled into one act in which Gandhi wrote the British after having met with Hitler, saying the British people should let the Nazis, “take possession of your beautiful island, with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these but neither your souls, nor your minds. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself man, woman and child, to be slaughtered” It is quite incredulous to think that such a seemingly peaceful man who many people, including in this country, worship and glorify was actually in support of the slaughter of British families and the Nazi occupation of Britain. So, Gandhi, an inexplicable individual who seemed to diverge off his political course so far that to distinguish between him and an attention-seeking celebrity of sorts would have been extremely difficult. He lay alongside many beautiful women in his bed, after leaving his wife and family, but never slept with one of them for reasons quite unknown, seeing as it contributed nothing to the political fight for independence or his personal reputation. He was under the illusion that his principles could be universally applied when clearly he was very badly mistaken and his entire political career seems to offer up a string of fascinating examples of how he was both totally irrational and seemingly clueless.

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The Gateway Chronicle

Issue 1 – April 2014

History & Politics Society lectures: ‘Italian Unification and the role of Garibaldi and Cavour’ with Dr David Laven Dr David Laven is an associate professor at Nottingham University and conducted History and Politics Society lecture on the relationship between Cavour and Garibaldi from a revisionist perspective. Seun Adekoya and Vivien Zhu, from the Lower Sixth, interviewed him to further discuss Italian Unification and his role as a professor. What was your aim in life as a teenager? It may be weird to say, but since an early age I have age wanted to go into academia. I developed a love for history at an early age. Why did you choose to be a professor? Firstly, my love for the subject, History has always been my passion. I found a love for teaching and making people interested and excited about a topic I love. How has your experience been so far? It is amazing, a chance to do what you love every day; being able to do your hobby all day, every day. When I was first asked to teach, I was teaching a topic I know little about, but the experience was great. How long have you been studying Italian history? Well, I studied Italian unification in my A-Levels. At university I studied various parts of European history. Now study it full time all the time. What interests you so much about Italian history? It was not necessarily Italy that grabbed me. I would have loved to study French or Russian history just as much. When it came to do my final year I almost went into French history, as had spent all my years’ previous studying France. But I wanted to do something else, just in case I never did history again and went into management or something. So I decided to study Italy to vary my studies and I went to live in Venice for a year. Who do you think made the most significant contribution to the eventual unification of Italy in 1870, Garibaldi or Cavour? If you ask me, neither of them. I believe that unification was influenced more by figures like Napoleon III or Bismarck. But if I had to throw my hat in the fire, Garibaldi. His unconventional methods and his daring nature meant that he could deliver. Anybody could have done what Cavour did. He was just a politician and used simple tactics. Do you think if Cavour and Garibaldi worked together the progress of unification would have occurred sooner? 6|Page


The Gateway Chronicle No. Unification was influenced more by international powers. Men like Napoleon and Bismarck controlled Italy’s fate.

Issue 1 – April 2014

How do you think the 1848 revolutions impacted upon the cause of unification and do you think unification may have been achieved at a slower pace without them? It showed people that revolution could not bring about unification. Also, that unification could not come from the bottom-up but from the top-down. The revolutions were a catalyst and changed Piedmont for the better. As Piedmont was the only state, after 1848, to have a constitution. People flocked to Piedmont and there was greater exchange of ideas. Piedmont actually, before 1848 the most un-Italian of states as it seemed more French than Italian and the upper classes only spoke French, became more Italian. This set the stride for Piedmont to become instrumental in Italian unification. Even after the unification of Italy in 1870, how truly united do you believe Italy was? Only really the upper classes saw themselves as Italian. The peasants were loyal to their cities and local areas, and ordinary citizens are locally loyal to this day. In fact, Italian was not the common language till the 1960s. This was Florence Tuscan, which was adopted as it was the language books were printed in. Huge parts of Italy still speak their local dialects before Italian. I was working with my friend in Italy, and she kept on correcting me on my Italian. But, when we went to Venice she saw that they spoke the same kind of Italian I had learnt, highlighting the cultural fragmentation in Italy to this day. If you hadn't been a professor, what would you be? I know it sounds boring, but if I wasn’t in higher education academia I would probably be a school teacher. I just love teaching and making other people excited about a subject I love. Do you think the A-Level course is too heavily focused on the actions of Garibaldi and Cavour? The course focuses way too much on Cavour and Garibaldi. All these courses are 30 to 40 years out of date, new research has now come to light. Men like Gioberti, who people laugh at are forgotten. But if people actually took the time to read his work they would see him as an immensely intelligent man, while Mazzini is focused on way to heavily. There isn’t a page on Milanese Cattaneo in a history book, but he is my favourite character in Italian unification. Cattaneo actually came up with a suitable solution for Italian unity which was federated states, as this would give every state a degree of independence while still being in a unified Italy. Italians were loyal to their cities and country loyalty came after that.

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The Gateway Chronicle

Issue 1 – April 2014

Civil Rights in the 1920s and 1930s By Robbie Goldstone and Hannah Brown The start of the 1920s in the USA is widely remembered as a period of unprecedented prosperity across America. Despite prohibition, the period is known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ due to changes in fashion, music, and socialising for the lively young generation. This idea of prosperity and social progress, however, did not appear to be unanimous for the population – African Americans were still living widely as subordinate citizens, and the 20 years following the war did not provide much progress for the Civil Rights Movement. Poverty levels for black American’s increased, and terrorist organisations against civil rights re-emerged - it is important that we consider how far the idea of the ‘Roaring Twenties’ actually transpired across the nation. There existed such a high proportion of African Americans living in poverty during this period that it simply cannot be considered an obvious Civil Rights success. Post WWI, white Americans returned to the northern cities demanding their jobs back, which had been filled by African Americans during the war. They were largely successful in this, which resulted in greater unemployment and poverty for African Americans who were simply cast aside. City ghettos developed - Harlem in New York, for example, became particularly impoverished, with a mortality rate 42% higher than other places in the city. The 1929 Wall Street crash and subsequent depression also brought about more hard times for the African American community. 25% of the whole American workforce became unemployed, but inevitably minority groups were affected the most significantly. It was estimated that in some cities like Chicago, black unemployment levels reached 60%. The economic climate was so desperate that in the three years postdepression, over 20 million Americans were starving. A high proportion of these were African Americans. In March 1933, Roosevelt was sworn in as President and immediately implemented economic reforms in the form of the New Deal. Its primary aim was to bring the USA out of the depression, through a series of domestic and largely agricultural policies by creating new works schemes. Theoretically, it should have brought great economic improvement for African Americans but in reality, this was not the case. Of the one million new jobs created, few actually went to black citizens. Furthermore, black people had a lower minimum wage, and welfare schemes 8|Page


The Gateway Chronicle

Issue 1 – April 2014 created often refused benefits to black people. Fundamental racism prevented most black people from becoming employed, which meant living standards generally did not increase – evidently, these decades cannot be classed as economic success for the Civil Rights Movement.

The re-emergence of the Ku Klux Klan was a huge social drawback for the Civil Rights Movement. The organisation re-formed in 1915 in Georgia and under Hiram Evans’ leadership, membership grew exponentially. By 1925, membership figures reached four million. This inevitably led to an increase in crimes against black people, including lynching, and also provided a stark symbol of the existence of terror against African Americans in the United States. By the end of the 1930s, lynching was still not regarded as a crime and perpetrators went unpunished. Attempts to make lynching a federal crime in 1935 and 1938 by Congress failed to be passed on both occasions. The disturbing story of Rubin Stacy, a man who was lynched for simply knocking on a white woman’s door, highlights the level of violence towards African Americans – legal equality simply did not exist in the Southern states particularly. Roosevelt ignored 22 cases of lynching in 1935 alone; not even the President would stand up to the violence. With the KKK growing in power, there were far greater levels of intimidation towards black people, threatening, injuring, or murdering them. The continuing existence of such severe social injustices meant that it remains difficult to view the decades of the 1920s and 1930s as years of genuine progress for the Movement. It is important, however, to consider the elements of progress that were able to emerge during this period. The emergence of the ‘Jazz age’ was a notable example of this, describing the distinctive and often hugely successful music created by black people in this time, often coming out of poverty and squalor, from ghettos like Harlem. Jazz music symbolised the rebellious attitude of African Americans, and created some icons for black people to look up to. Louis Armstrong became a global star and was a hero to many black people, epitomising what could be achieved if you worked for it. The music created made white people realise how blacks felt, as lyrics often challenged racism, and supported equality for African Americans. Iconic songs like “Strange Fruit”, by Billie Holiday, almost became soundtracks to the protest movement in this time. The jazz age actually achieved little for Civil Rights in terms of legal progress but cannot be overlooked - it gave African Americans a great deal of pride and hope, helping some to realise the situation they were in. The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) made some strides forward for African Americans in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 30s specifically, spearheaded by Walter Francis White, the NAACP really progressed its cause. It managed some success in courts challenging individual events of discrimination, and successfully battled against unequal educational funding. African Americans also became more politically active. The black vote became particularly important in the north, and was often the deciding factor in local elections. President Roosevelt even assembled a black cabinet to help advise him. However, it was Roosevelt’s white political advisors, not his black cabinet that influenced political decisions; it was more symbolic than functional. Equally, although the NAACP advanced their cause to an extent, it twice failed to pass laws against lynching, so failing in its major goal. These small advancements made by the NAACP should not be overlooked, but did not render the 1920s and 30s decades of clear improvement for African Americans. On the whole, it appears that there were small steps made in progression of the Civil Rights Movement. The jazz explosion lead to the creation of role models and inspiration, and the NAACP advanced its cause. However, to be 9|Page


The Gateway Chronicle Issue 1 – April 2014 classified as years of achievement, the achievements should outweigh the failures. This was not the case. The KKK re-emerged terrorising innocent African Americans, lynching continued, and black people were discriminated against in the work place, resulting in great levels of poverty. Due to the economic and social hardships experienced by black Americans, it is clear that the extent of the progress felt by the rest of America (experienced particularly in the 1920s), was as segregated as so many other aspects of life remained to be.

History & Politics Society lectures: ‘Civil Rights in the 1940’s and 1950’s’ with Alex Rutherford OA Alex Rutherford OA returned to St Albans School on 14th November 2013 to give a History and Politics Society lecture on the theme of ‘Civil Rights in the USA in the 1940’s and 1950’s’. Lucy Bonner, Hannah Brown and Milly Garnett, from the Upper Sixth, interviewed Alex about his take on the Civil Rights Movement and his time studying in South Carolina, a state at the heart of the movement. How do you think World War Two affected the Civil Rights Movement? I think World War Two had a very significant impact. One of the most important things it did was highlight and sharpen the hypocrisies of American democracy and raise the political profile of Civil Rights in the US. For example, the Pittsburgh Courier (newspaper) waged the Double V campaign, the idea that America cannot project its image of equality and democracy whilst at the same time having such issues within Civil Rights. It also instilled a sense of urgency and militancy within the movement - lots of figures who were later high up in groups such as the SNCC were exposed to racial equality around the world and therefore were militant about the Movement upon their return. It was an engine for change and accelerated the plight for Civil rights. How did your experience of living and studying in South Carolina enhance your experience of the Movement? Firstly, speaking to individuals there definitely furthered my interests - I was struck by how racial issues were in South Carolina; it seemed, for example, that if you went to the local cafeteria there would be one section largely for African Americans who voluntarily sat separately from the Whites and Hispanics. I decided that being there, I could try and bridge these gaps, so that I gained first-hand experience of Civil Rights. Speaking to African Americans, they said that I was the first non-black friend they'd ever had, because, to quote them, they 'didn't really understand white people'. Speaking to them gave me a chance to understand both how things have and haven't changed in South Carolina. I posed difficult questions which people were often uncomfortable answering but it gave me a solid understanding of how integral race issues are to the foundations of society in the USA.

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The Gateway Chronicle

Issue 1 – April 2014 What exactly did you do to achieve the Social Justice Award?

I joined the gospel choir as an attempt to bridge these gaps, which was great. I had been told by a few people not to join as it was 'only for black people' and may be a strange or even uncomfortable experience. I joined anyway due to my natural passion for singing and was able to learn about the history of gospel choir, and spiritual music. I was then able to advocate this around campus: I chaired discussions, went on a Civil Rights road trip and represented the Office for Multicultural affairs, acting as a spokesperson doing speeches on my experience. I won the award for my contribution in this way, as I also introduced twelve or fifteen non-African American individuals to the gospel choir as an attempt to mitigate the race issues that I had seen. Do you think the Civil Rights Movement is ongoing? I think to answer that question, you must look at the fact that there has undoubtedly been significant strides for improvement since the 1950s and 60s: politically, with figures such as Obama; socially, rigid segregation has been completely displaced; but if you look at certain areas such of education you can see that there is an ongoing struggle for African Americans in particular to be in the best schools, for example. I think the problem has changed from Civil and Voting Rights to other issues such as income inequality. I asked a few people this question for my dissertation and they felt that it was indeed ongoing, but not limited just to African Americans – the ongoing issue has spread to Hispanic Americans too. How significant would you say the role of Martin Luther King and other key individuals were in bringing about Civil Rights success? Martin Luther King had a very significant part in the Civil Rights Movement, but because his oratory presence and ability to capture the media was so good, people see the Civil Rights Movement in a very King-centred way. It is important to know that King not only raised the profile of Civil Rights, but his strategy was also very good: his marches and campaigns were very useful. I think you also have to look at the grassroots, however, which laid the foundations and the basis for King and other organisations to use. Without these King wouldn’t have been as successful. How significant was the Brown vs. Topeka case in 1954 in advancing the Civil Rights Movement? Brown was very significant, you could argue, in the short term. After Plessy in 1896 indoctrinated the separate-butequal, Jim Crow idea, which set the legal framework for the next sixty years, the unanimous declaration that the bedrock of segregation was completely demolished in June 1954 was certainly encouraging for activists, and it raised the hopes and expectations of people. It became one of the pivotal moments within the Civil Rights trajectory, but in the long term the ruling was not particularly effective – there are still ongoing problems today with funding for African-American children’s school places in South Carolina!

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The Gateway Chronicle Issue 1 – April 2014 Would you say that the eventual success of the Movement was in a sense inevitable from the outset of the Emancipation Proclamation, or was it a result of the activists and campaigns in the 1950s and 60s? Historians generally don’t like inevitability… The Emancipation Proclamation and other events at the beginning of the 20th Century certainly pushed the Movement forward, but, as Clayborne Carson argued, it is unlikely that without the catalysts of the mid-20th century the Civil Rights Movement would have progressed. Although I was initially sceptical, it is now possible to see that World War 2 encouraged people’s organisation and enthusiasm in protesting. For that reason I would be careful with the use of the word ‘inevitability’ in reference to this Movement. What would you say was the most successful method of protest for the Civil Rights Activists? Non-violent protest was the most successful form, and legal challenges of the court. Birmingham in 1963, for example, was very important. One of my tutors in South Carolina knew King personally as he had been Secretary of the SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), and he said that Birmingham changed everything – it was the ‘big earthquake that shook the foundations of America’ as following this, President Kennedy, who had previously been on the fence about being active in Civil Rights, made a speech openly supporting the fight. This shows how important non-violent protest was – sometimes it got militant, but it could be seen nationwide on TV and therefore spread an important message and stayed on America’s conscience. How did you find studying History at university and what attracted you to specialise in the Civil Rights Movement? Studying history at University is great – in St. Albans they train and teach you very well for university, as lots of other people struggle with the new ideas of independence and organisation difficult at University. You have to be organised and disciplined - I only had 5 hours of contact time per week at Warwick. Read around what you’re doing, analyse the sources and try to come up with your own take on what you are studying. That idea attracted me to do History. In South Carolina it was different – much more factual-based and evidential-based. Studying Civil Rights for A2 with Mr Martin (whose notes I still use!) inspired me; I was really struck by how youth were important, how recent it was and the idea of justice all appealed to me.

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The Gateway Chronicle

Issue 1 – April 2014

Nelson Mandela: Greatest freedom fighter of the 20th C? By DJS Mr Stone explores the life and achievements of one of the 20th Century’s most influential and inspiring figures (in his humble opinion!). The term ‘great’ is a strong word. To be the greatest implies superiority over all others. Of course, as a result it is often overly and inappropriately used to label individuals and collectives in a variety of contexts. Ronaldo is the greatest footballer in the world. Exeter City are the greatest football team… in Devon. Many of you may recall from your Third form History lessons that esteemed historian Jeremy Clarkson waxing lyrical about the merits of Isambard Kingdom Brunel as the greatest Briton. It is a label that has been used at times contentiously to describe the political capabilities of Winston Churchill. Few men are truly great and the application of the label ‘greatest’, especially when considering freedom fighters, is entirely subjective. Yet one man for whom this label is, in my humble opinion, wholly appropriate is Nelson Mandela. No doubt you will have seen in the news and wider media the reports into his life at the time of his death in the autumn of last year. Lawyer, defendant, prisoner, terrorist, forgiver, statesman; call Mandela what you will. To fight injustice, to win the argument but lose twenty seven years of your life to imprisonment, then work with your enemies and turn the other cheek whilst trying to meet over-ambitious expectations of your electorate whilst convincing the minority white population of their role in the new South Africa has to be seen for what it was; the mark of a truly remarkable man. The system of Apartheid introduced in 1948 was in many ways an extension of the Pass Laws which Gandhi had been fighting before the First World War. When Britain unconvincingly won the Boer War at the turn of the century, the result was eventually a Union of South Africa (1910) dominated by former Boer generals’ intent on continued suppression of the black majority. And why wouldn’t they, after all this was the era of Jim Crow in the Deep South of the USA and the height of social Darwinist influences on the British imperialists ruling over one-fifth of the world. In 1920’s and 1930’s South Africa, the plight of blacks was ignored. By the end of the Second World War, a divide had opened up in South African politics between the United and National Parties. When the United Party, led by Jan Smuts, began to propose the introduction of a range of policies which were far off suggesting the creation of a wholly equal society but did suggest a relaxation of racial restrictions, the National Party led by Dr Daniel Malan campaigned and won the election with Apartheid as the focal point of its manifesto. Apartheid literally means separate development and again, similarities can be drawn here between apartheid and the principle of ‘separate but equal’ established by the US Supreme Court in 1896 with the Plessy vs Ferguson ruling. A key difference here was that there was no obligation on the part of the state even to maintain the façade of equality. Apartheid was introduced immediately, with the passing of ten new laws between 1949 and 1959. As the National Party’s grip on power tightened into the 1950’s, the system of Apartheid continued to evolve and become firmly entrenched in the psyche of much of white South Africa. Nelson Mandela came from the Transkei region on the Eastern Cape and had enjoyed the education and upbringing one might expect for a member of the Themba royal family; reading law at the Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand before eventually embarking on a legal career in Johannesburg. By 1953, Mandela had set up the only African-run law firm in South Africa with Oliver Tambo, but by this stage his political activism had begun to take over from his ability to practice law. 13 | P a g e


The Gateway Chronicle Issue 1 – April 2014 As the new apartheid laws came in, Mandela was part of a new vanguard in the ANC (African National Congress) calling for direct action against the policies being introduced. In 1950, he became the president of the ANC Youth League, advocating non-violent protest through the medium of strikes and boycotts. Specifically in the style of the sit-in protests that would follow in the USA, campaigners entered ‘whites only’ areas in public places. Unquestionably the leaders of the Indian nationalist cause who had just realised their goals inspired Mandela and other leading ANC figures to believe that their cause could also be won through peaceful but militant means. In the mid 1950’s opposition to apartheid was still largely peaceful. In 1955 a Congress of the People met to proclaim a Freedom Charter, which set out a new vision for the future of South Africa. It called for an end to apartheid and the introduction of democracy, human rights, land reform and equality before the law. The government saw this as an act of treason and charged 156 leaders of the ANC, including Mandela, under the Suppression of Communism Act. Whilst not guilty verdicts were eventually delivered, the trial lasted for several years with the defendants’ ability to orchestrate opposition being severely restricted. Thus anti-apartheid activism was less prevalent in these years. Yet the brutality of the government was sustained, culminating in the infamous Sharpeville massacre of 1960, where 69 people were killed and 186 injured when police opened fire to disperse a crowd protesting about the pass laws. Between 1960 and 1963, anti-apartheid leaders were forced underground, with Mandela forming the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) organisation to fight the government. During this period, he was able to escape South Africa and travel across Africa to London, spreading the word of his organisation and the plight of blacks in South Africa. Upon his return and after evading the authorities for many months (becoming known as the Black Pimpernel), he was arrested and placed on trial for treason alongside sixteen other leading figures in the infamous Rivonia Trial. Mandela used the dock as a platform to denounce his opponents, delivering a four-hour speech in which he called for greater understanding between white and black communities in South Africa; ‘I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’ Given that he faced the death penalty, it took tremendous courage to stand up to his opponents in this way and even at this early stage set out his stall for the future. Eight of the defendants were convicted but sentenced to life imprisonment. And so began twenty-seven years’ incarceration with all but the most ardent opponent of apartheid acknowledging the success of the government in crushing internal opposition.

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The Gateway Chronicle Issue 1 – April 2014 Mandela continued to fight from his prison cell on Robben Island. As the letters in his book Conversations with Myself attest, in spite of enduring considerable hardship he and his fellow prisoners lobbied to be considered as political prisoners rather than criminals. They sought to maintain their identities as individuals as the state sought to break their will with hard labour and through the stripping away of their individuality. Throughout this time, Mandela continued to argue his case with a foe he sought to respect whom he could so easily have despised. For me, this was best reflected in the following quote which formed part of a letter smuggled from prison in 1977 to lawyers in Durban directed to the government and prison officials, ‘I detest white supremacy and will fight it with every weapon in my hands. But even when the clash between you and me has taken the most extreme form, I should like us to fight over principles and ideas and without personal hatred, so at the end of the battle, whatever the result might be, I can proudly shake hands with you, because I feel I have fought an upright and worthy opponent who has observed the whole code of honour and decency.’ Beyond Robben Island as the swinging Sixties gave way to the 1970’s and 1980’s, a new wave of anti-apartheid protests began to challenge the South African government. Sporting boycotts, decolonisation to black governments in neighbouring countries like Mozambique, continued brutality culminating in the murder of Steve Biko in police custody in 1977 and economic sanctions began to make South Africa a pariah state within the international community; although controversially US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher remained firm in their belief that that Mandela was a terrorist. It was really the election of P W Botha as Prime Minister of South Africa in 1978 that led to the renewed possibility of Mandela’s conditional release. Repeatedly such offers were rejected, such as in 1985 when he stated ‘what freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people [ANC] remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.’ Increasingly the imprisoned Mandela was becoming an internationally renowned symbol of the injustice of apartheid and an embarrassment for a government beginning to look for a way out. This provided the basis for the secret talks between Mandela and the government documented in John Carlin’s Playing the Enemy (the book that provided the inspiration for the film Inviticus). In these secret talks between 1987 and 1989, Mandela combined his charm and sharp intellect to befriend his opponents in the same way he had won over his wardens, securing relaxation of the restrictions which affected his party and his people; ultimately culminating in the open negotiations with new Prime Minister F W de Klerk which led to his unconditional release on 11th February 1990. It is perhaps the next stage of his life that makes him the most remarkable and sets him apart from other figures who might otherwise have contested for the title of ‘the greatest’. After twenty-seven years’ incarceration, much of it in solitary confinement, away from family and friends, one might reasonably expect a degree of anger, frustration and a desire to exact revenge. With Mandela this was not the case. He immediately set about tackling the difficult negotiations that would precede the first multi-party elections in South African history in 1994 at a time when the country teetered on the brink of civil war. He sat down with both his former jailors and those from within the black community from whom he had been separated for nearly thirty years and whom he could not claim to wholly represent. Central to Mandela’s philosophy was a belief that reconciliation would be the only way to ensuring a fair 15 | P a g e


The Gateway Chronicle Issue 1 – April 2014 and just, politically and economically stable South Africa. Significant threats to these negotiations were presented by the Zulu nationalist Buthelezi and the extreme right wing Afrikaner Resistance Movement led by Terreblanche. The April 1994 elections delivered a convincing victory for the ANC and in May 1994 Nelson Mandela became President, declaring ‘this is a time to heal the old wounds and build a new South Africa’. In this respect, the timing of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, won by South Africa, acted as a timely boost helping Mandela to use the toxic brand amongst blacks that was the Springboks as a platform to advertise the Rainbow Nation as being open to the world. Perhaps most poignantly, Mandela oversaw the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1996 to investigate crimes committed under apartheid by both the government and the ANC, appointing Desmond Tutu as its chair. The commission granted individual amnesties in exchange for testimony of crimes committed during the apartheid era. It held two years of hearings detailing rapes, torture, bombings and assassinations before issuing its final report in October 1998. Mandela praised the Commission's work, stating that it ‘had helped us move away from the past to concentrate on the present and the future’. So what makes him the greatest freedom fighter of the 20th Century? As with all of us, he had his flaws. Mandela was regarded as something of a loose cannon amongst the ANC leadership in his early years. He left behind two failed marriages and developed a reputation as a ladies man both before and after his incarceration. Many have reflected his time as president as a time of failure, when many promises made to the South African electorate were not delivered. The fact that South Africa remains in places a troubled, divided and unequal country today, twenty years after those first elections, has been identified by some as a blot on the copybook of Nelson Mandela. Yet, the inescapable truth is that the end of apartheid brought about a surge in expectations amongst the black community that were never going to be immediately realised. As Martin Luther King quickly realised in the aftermath of legislative success in the USA in the 1960’s, addressing social and economic injustice is a far more complicated and tricky affair. Gandhi too is seen by many as a heroic nationalist leader who fought against imperialist oppression in India and indeed the Congress movement provided inspiration for Mandela and his peers. Yet it was Nehru’s more pragmatic example to which Mandela aspired as opposed to the satyagraha and ahimsa of Gandhi. It is to Mandela’s credit that he managed with others to maintain a peaceful course and keep his country away from the brink of civil war. He was prepared to work with his jailors, set aside any inclination to seek revenge, and set an example to his people as he sought to steer South Africa on a pathway to a creating a new peaceful, stable, democratic post-apartheid society. His dignity, self-belief and refusal to become a victim inspired millions of people, not just in Africa. He was a role model for any peoples facing oppression. Further reading Playing the Enemy – John Carlin Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela Conversations with Myself – Nelson Mandela Mandela: The Authorised Biography – Anthony Sampson

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The Gateway Chronicle

Issue 1 – April 2014

Junior History Film Club: a film review on ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ By Lauren Rowe As we are right now in the midst of the film awards season, a question on the minds of many is why hasn’t the new film on Nelson Mandela been appearing among the nominees? A film so talked about, especially given its release coincided so well with the death of the former President yet the only mention of it amongst the Academy Award nominees is for Best Song. However any who have seen the film will agree its powerful. Every time we see the crowds of gathered Africans respond to the African chants shouted by Mandela and his wife, Winnie, with their right arms raised as a fist in the air we are swept up in their determination and their struggle. Possibly most poignant of all these moments is following the sentencing of Mandela and his fellow ANC colleagues. From the dock they turn to the crowd of Africans behind them and chant, Mandela reaches out to his wife just before he is pulled away and sent to Robben Island. It’s a moment that evokes sympathy and respect: it depicts Mandela as both the determined leader and the husband forced away from his family. Huge credit must go to Idris Elba with his portrayal of Mandela. Although the film does not shy away from depicting Nelson Mandela’s flaws: his adultery, neglecting his first son and smoking scene after scene; Elba still manages to portray a hero, a character that the viewer admires and respects. It’s a role Elba plays with incredibly believability. As the film progresses we see his Mandela age both physically, in his gait and his stance, and vocally. It’s so realistic that we make that journey with him. And what a journey it is. In just over two hours, Justin Chadwick, the director, begins in Mandela’s early career and ends with the announcing of his Presidency. We see Mandela grow from the young, successful lawyer, fiery and confident to a much wiser, slower man with huge gravitas, a Mandela the world is possibly more familiar with. Through his younger years, the pace is faster, events flash by and this encourages us to be caught up in the whirlwind of determination and the excitement of a group of people trying to change the world. Appropriately this slows down following his jailing and to begin with we too are almost confined to Robben Island. Gradually Chadwick allows us to become more aware of the growing momentum of the protests in South Africa. The depiction of Winnie’s traumas and suffering are heart-wrenching: a mother tortured and abused whilst her two young children are left at home alone. This is Harris at her best, the feisty woman who we see grow more and more determined as she grows more and more angry. Chadwick contrasts Winnie’s growing anger with Mandela’s growing calmness so by the time they are re-united we understand why their distance and separation leads to their divorce. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom may not have been successful with the awards but that’s certainly not to say that it is not a good film. In fact as an overview of Mandela’s life it is definitely well done, it depicts the development of a leader and takes the viewer on a journey of highs and lows. Overall it brings alive the struggle of one man to bring about the end of Apartheid, a story that should be important to everyone.

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The Gateway Chronicle

Issue 1 – April 2014

History & Politics Society lectures: ‘Historical Film Making for the BBC’ an interview with Cameron de Vaux-Balbirnie Cameron de Vaux-Balbirnie is a historical documentary film maker for the BBC who has contributed to the making of documentaries such as Operation Grand Canyon and The Whale. Lucy Bonner and Katie Clifford interviewed Mr de Vaux-Balbirnie to get a further insight into his profession and what it entails. Where do you find the inspiration for the documentaries from? Part of what we do is what is expected of us because we are the nation’s broadcaster so not surprisingly a lot of our thinking recently has been about World War I and how we mark World War I. Obviously 2014 is a really big year and so that expectation of us means that in some ways inspiration is just a given. Because history is chronological there are a lot of anniversaries, coming up in the summer is also a big D-Day anniversary, and I spend a lot of time talking to history academics and seeing what new books have been written. I also read the newspapers, I am interested in ancient history and archaeology so all the time you meet people and read articles and I see new ideas and new discoveries. What’s been your most interesting and challenging project you’ve worked on? Recently I made a program called Operation Grand Canyon which was recreating the first navigation of the Grand Canyon in 1869 which was formidably difficult. That was challenging, it was interesting too but it was mainly physically challenging trying to fill over 3 weeks on the Grand Canyon. I made a film called Hiroshima in 2005 where we filmed the last ever interviews with the flight crews that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and so to ask the pilot what did it feel like to kill a quarter of a million people it was incredibly interesting. Do you find that you and your team are restricted in any way when considering the views and opinions you present in your documentaries? It’s important to challenge opinion, we are proud to go out on a limb but there are issues of balance. We can’t just say something that is ludicrous but one of our roles is to be provocative, we do get complaints but they’re the right sort of complaints. We made a film where we interviewed the Pussy Riot girls about Putin’s role and got complaints from the Russian Orthodox Church. So no, we can challenge but I think we must respect public opinion; for World War I it’s a really interesting question of how we treat WW1, especially with the whole public debate which we have got to be part of. Do we look at it dispassionately and so we say that Germany is to blame for WW1? We don’t necessarily have to take one side or the other but we must recognise it as a debate and take part in that debate. How did you find yourself getting into this kind of industry? Fundamentally I am interested in stories, I was interested in fiction stories so I was a print journalist and wrote all sorts of things. And as a film maker I have worked across all sorts of genres, in science and history and futures and arts but history has good stories, it gives you stories. It’s like a box of chocolates, you open it up and it gives you really good stories to make films about!

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The Gateway Chronicle Have there ever been any documentaries that once you’ve aired them you really wished you had gone about them in a different way?

Issue 1 – April 2014

Actually no, I find myself surprised to say no! I think it’s because as a print journalist you write a news story in 10 minutes but as a film maker, making a film or TV series takes a long time. So in that time you have enough time in the process to really reflect and change. Film making is over a really long period of time where you discuss what it’s about, you film and edit it and mould it, whilst a lot of people are involved all talking. When it goes out you feel like that’s what you wanted to make with a quiet sense of satisfaction as you see all your changes over time come together. Is there any particular topic or area that you would love to make a film on in the future? I’ve always had a little fascination for the 17th Century, which is strange as there isn’t much of a story as such. It’s a time period beginning with Elizabeth on the throne and ending with the Industrial Revolution, and in the middle you’ve got lots of scientific experiment, the invention of the Bank of England, the Glorious Revolution and a complete change of an absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy, the Civil War, and there is also a mini Ice Age which, it is thought, killed a third of the entire population of the earth! Some extraordinary things happened in this century; a transformation from a Mediaeval world to an almost modern world. I think there’s a fascinating story to tell, I just don’t know what it is yet. When a team of you look at initially filming a new project, and there are two people who have completely clashing opinions, where does the compromise come in? There isn’t one. Television is very consultative but also hierarchical, so the programmes I make are made my way. I think the trick in television, is that it works at its best when it is very consultative and you take the views of lots of others on board, but you must be very careful with taking on board too many different opinions – in the end you must take the final call yourself. Not least because media is expensive, so as soon as you have a team on making a programme, progress happens quickly. Have your own opinions on historical events ever drastically changed after making a documentary? I suppose the Hiroshima film. I was extremely interested to interview the men who flew the plane which dropped the bomb on Hiroshima – the eldest person was 29 years old at the time and the youngest was 17 at the time, such young men flying seven hours to Japan to drop a bomb they knew would kill thousands of people – I wanted to ask what that felt like. Actually, when you talk to these old men and what they went through, and how they rationalise it, you begin to understand it – there are other arguments, such as that Japan was not going to surrender and the war would continue where the Japanese would kill many more people than Hiroshima. I therefore think that your views can definitely be moderated by these experiences; it teaches you something about life as well as about history. Are there any particular individuals you’ve met who have really stood out to you? Usually people don’t go on the screen unless we think they are remarkable. In history, it tends to be those individuals who have been at the heart of enormous events. You always are amazed by individuals who have lived through so much and it always makes you wonder what it was like to be them – it reminds you that history is not just about these huge events, but also about people just making decisions. 19 | P a g e


The Gateway Chronicle

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Issue 1 – April 2014

The Gateway Chronicle April 2014  

The magazine of the St. Albans School History Department

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