Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New book: My Life Under White Supremacy and in Exile

Leonard Nikani's autobiography, My Life Under White Supremacy and in Exile, is the next book to be published by Socialist Resistance. These memoirs give a graphic portrayal of a black man growing up in racist South Africa. Click here to read about next week's London book launch.

Leonard began to question the racist system while still at school. As a student at Fort Hare University he became involved in the political struggle, joining the Society of Young Africa, the youth organisation of the Unity Movement of South Africa. He remained committed to the political struggle for the rest of his life.

He exposes the policies of the ANC and the South African Communist Party in the liberation struggle, which led to their failure in government to meet the demands of the masses. Like so many other political activists he was hounded by the racists and forced into exile.

He gives a dramatic account of a secret mission to South Africa for his organisation, and his subsequent escape to and imprisonment in Swaziland. Following his release from prison he lived in Sweden, where he remarried and had two children. He died in 1999 in Sweden.

Editors Norman Traub and Robert Wilcox have edited the memoirs into a compelling 336 page volume, with a beautiful cover designed by Ed Fredenburgh. The book will retail for just £10 or $15 though booksellers (using the ISBN 978-0-902869-85-1).


selcool said...

I read the first draft of this book - the first section is very interesting but his life (and thus 'political activity') in Sweden from 1973 is very 'censored'. I met Lennard N. in 1974 in Lund, Sweden and then later in Uppsala after 1977 after I had moved there - he was then 'President' of the UNSA (no election but 'placed there' undemocratically by I. B. Tabata, who is my uncle, married to my Aunt Jane (Jainup) Gool, whom I had met and interviewed in Harare, Zimbabwe in the mid-1980s. So enjoy the first section with the above proviso! Dr Selim Y. Gool

Norman Traub said...

Selim Gool's statement that Leonard Nikani was President of the Unity Movement of South Africa(UMSA) in 1977 having been'placed there' undemocratically by I B Tabata is not true. Tabata was President of the Unity Movement at that time and remained so until he died in 1990.I participated in the first conference of UMSA in March 1991 in Ezibeleni, Queenstown, in South Africa following the unbanning of political organisations involved in the liberation struggle.Nikani was democratically elected president at that conference. This is a historical fact.
Norman Traub

Selim Gool said...

It is in the manner of African Royal successions that the 'King' or Royal Appointee of a lineage presents his/her "successor" to the tribe/ lineage/ clan [or in this case,a political "movement"] - and so it came to pass with the 'nomination' and 'election' of this Royal Prince 'elect' in 1961.

Now, the history of the NEUM/ Unity Movement [NEUM/ UMSA] is litered with sectarian conflict and 'cliques': read Yousuf (Joe) Rassool's autobiography: "District Six: Lest we forget: recapturing subjugated cultural histories of Cape Town (1897-1956) [2000], or Frank Anthony's "The Journey", the writings of Livinstone Mqoti or Neville Alexander (aka 'No Sizwe'). Or, for a 'rebuttal' of the above views, especially as regards a PhD thesis of Ciraj Rasool, a nephew of Joe Rassool (as above) see, Mr Enver Hashim @

Dear Mr Traub, although my father, the late Dr Goolam H. Gool and Mother Mrs Halima H. Gool ("Hawa Ahmed") were both founders and activists in the Non-European Unity Movement from its inception in 1943, I was never associated with, or a member of, ANY of the various sects, splinters or a 'fellow-traveller' of any of these groupscules / grouplets.

Therefore my ignorance as to the actual manner of the "succession" you refer to! I beg your forgiveness for this major historiographical error.