Nelson Mandela Foundation


September 28, 2010 – The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Centre of Memory and Dialogue has worked with Rica Hodgson to produce her autobiography, Foot Soldier for Freedom: A Life in South Africa’s Liberation Movement.

The book, published by Picador Africa, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, follows Hodgson’s journey from being born into a middle-class family of Jewish immigrants to becoming fully involved in the anti-apartheid movement. Hodgson, a dedicated activist, was banned, detained, placed under house arrest, and exiled by the apartheid government during her involvement.

Verne Harris, head of the Centre’s Memory Programme, said: “One of the key objectives of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Centre of Memory and Dialogue is to create space for the voices around Nelson Mandela, especially those not often heard in public discourses today. Mandela himself has enjoined us repeatedly ‘not to focus on me as an individual – I was always part of a movement.’ Rica is one of those voices. And before her retirement she was (quintessentially) a cadre in the movement shaped so profoundly by Mandela. Hence the Centre’s support of this book.

“On a personal level, I have benefited enormously from my engagement with Rica and with her story. She is an inspiration. I have no doubt that her story will inspire all who read it.”

The book documents how Hodgson developed as a campaigner, moving from a member of the army at the age of 23, committed to confronting the threat of fascism, to joining the Springbok League, the Communist Party and the African National Congress.

Readers follow her to Britain, where she helped support political prisoners and their families by establishing clandestine channels of funding for their defence through Canon John Collins, from the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa.

Interwoven within stories of the South African struggle are details of Rica Hodgson’s marriage to activist Jack Hodgson, her time in prison, and her relationships with some of the struggle movement’s most well-known activists, from Ruth First and Hilda Bernstein to Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Bram Fischer.

Hodgson said: “This story is for the women and men of our struggle – leaders and foot soldiers committed to freedom and justice. Many have inspired me. Foremost amongst these was my husband, Jack, whose hatred of oppression was an unyielding force and a source of his boundless passion to change the world.”

The book has received praise from those involved in the anti-apartheid movement as well as local book critics.

Albie Sachs, author of The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law, said: “Narrated with laugh-aloud wit and warmth, this autobiographical story of the lives of two soldiers at the heart of the liberation struggle has a heartbeat and sense of idealism that speaks loudly to us today. Foot Soldier for Freedom is a tale of personal love fuelled by a love for freedom.”

Foot Soldier for Freedom is available at all good bookstores in South Africa.

Title:Foot Soldier for Freedom: A life in South Africa’s liberation movement
Author: Rica Hodgson
ISBN: 978-1-77010-189-0
Category: Non-fiction (Autobiography)
Format: Trade Paperback (234mm by 153mm)

Foot Soldier for Freedom is also available as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-77010- 110-4)