On Monday 14 April the Nelson Mandela Foundation hosted another in its series of legacy dialogues, led by a panel of speakers comprising Mac Maharaj, Hugh Macmillan and Adekeye Adebajo. The question interrogated by the panel was: “What are the legacies of Nelson Mandela, and how do they intersect with those of the ANC?”
The Foundation has been accused by some of performing a gatekeeper role in relation to "legacy". Others have gone further and suggested that the Foundation regards itself as the custodian of Mandela’s legacy. In his welcoming address, acting Chief Executive Verne Harris argued that there are many legacies of Nelson Mandela, that they need to be interrogated and critiqued, and that everyone has a stake in them.
The dialogue took the form of a conversation, with Maharaj as interlocutor, after opening statements by all three panellists. Drawing on his long association both with Mandela and with his organisation, the ANC, Maharaj offered a compelling "insider" perspective to the conversation. Macmillan spoke to the question as an historian having enjoyed many years close to the ANC in exile. And Adebajo offered a perspective "from outside", framing his contribution as an exploration of Mandela as a pan-African icon.
Members of the audience joined the conversation. A wide range of questions were addressed, including: the extent to which Mandela was a product and a representative of an organisation; the degree to which his leadership, both of the ANC and of government, was consultative; the political mistakes he made as a leader; the question of whether his legacy is in safe hands; and what advice Mandela would be giving the ANC today.
Watch the coverage of the event below