A rare privilege!

I was invited and participated in a historic conference in Algiers whose theme was: Algeria’s contribution to the decolonisation of Africa. The conference convened in Algiers, capital city from November 29–30; delegates came from the four cardinal points of Africa, East, West, North and South.

Notably, delegates weren’t ruling party official representatives, but men and women who had participated in liberation movements across Africa during the hurly-burly of the decolonisation era. By a rare privilege, I was counted among those who had had a minute input then. My gratitude goes to whoever recommended my name, the Algerian Embassy in RSA who processed the invitation from the Government of the Peoples Republic  of Democratic Algeria and was kind enough to issue a 90-days visa to enable me to attend the historic conference and renew acquaintance with comrades I shared the political trenches at some stage. Not to forget the staff of El Aurassi Hotel who made my stay in Algiers a honeyed experience!  

I was excited to meet Comrade Masala, trained in Algeria post-Algeria independence, 1962, whose deployment back in the country after training, I was personally responsible for. His contribution to the underground work of ANC/MK was short-lived as he was nabbed within weeks of his  reinforcement stint. He was tried and sentenced to 11 years hard labour on Robben Island Prison where I was later to join the temporarily incarcerated in 1966!  Unfortunately, Comrade Masala and I never made contact on the island; he served in one section of the maximum jail and I in another! Meeting 52 years in a strange city more than 10,000 kilometres from Soweto where we had last met, was like meeting on the day of the resurrection, for the two of us; it rekindled brutish memories of the past whose treachery can only be forgiven under the authority of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,  but can never be forgotten! Another delegate from RSA, retired Major General Keith  Mokoape also brought back the receding vision of the bygone cursed days. Keith and I had met before, in a military camp-in-exile, but the poignancy of meeting here decades after our last meeting was triggered by the fact that he enquired about Ausi Shirley, the hostess who harboured him while he played hide-and-seek with apartheid secret agents in Botswana; Shirley by coincidence happens to be my neighbour down the road as I write! Keith  was full of praise and gratitude to her and other Batswana who voluntarily offered freedom fighters comfort  and security from  snooping agents  from  across the border.

Editor's Comment
Women in Politics caucus NGO, a welcome development

In the 2014 General Election, women who stood for parliamentary elections were a mere 17 out of a total of 192 aspirants, and sadly the number dropped to 11 out of 210 parliamentary aspirants in the 2019 General Election. Hopefully, registration of the Women in Politics Caucus will give women the necessary support to join politics. While things were slowly improving, women for a long time were at the receiving end as compared to their male...

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