Of askaris, MK operations and weak leadership in 'If we must die' memoir

Stanley Manong's memoir, 'If we must die', documents his life as a young student in 1976, joining uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and rising to the rank of commander.

Manong was thrust into anti-apartheid activism when he joined the African National Congress in exile as a student in 1976, playing a key role in MK's underground operations.

702/Cape Talk's Redi Tlhabi spoke to him about his reflections on fighting for a democratic South Africa.

In a review of the book, Terry Bell characterised it as 'one of the finest insights to date of life in the ANC’s exiled uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) army in the crucial years following the 1976 student uprisings in South Africa'.

Listen to the two-part conversation below:

It is addressing our real determination of 1976, when we were young students. I saw many of our fellow students dying.

Stanley Manong, author

Manong said that he was cautious not to romanticise the liberation struggle. He had to overcome many challenges, one of the hardest being the killing of mother.

The political education we received from the ANC helped us soldier through... We believed that one day we would be free.

Stanley Manong, author

He said that operations in Botswana were a weak point. He highlighted some issues which exposed leadership deficiencies within MK in exile.

MK was not very effective when it came to Botswana, there was a serious leadership vacuum there.

Stanley Manong, author
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