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Rebecca Davis Reviews 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69 by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69Verdict: carrot

Just over a month ago, after the launch of her prison memoir 491 Days in Durban, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela gave an interview to the city’s Daily News. Talking about the increasing frequency of Marikana-type protests, she said: “God help us if one day the masses of this country rise against the state”.

From a woman who devoted the lion’s share of her life to struggling against the state, it’s quite a telling statement. There’s an implicit divide between “us” and “the masses” in it, and Winnie, perhaps disconcertingly, can no longer situate herself among “the masses” in good faith. It’s a seeming acknowledgement that new elites replaced old elites in the political system, and Winnie, for all her radicalism, is now one of them.

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