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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:South Africa's historiographic conflation: comparing and contrasting the memories of King and Malcolm X with Luthuli and Mandela
Author:Everett Couper, ScottISNI
Periodical:Historia: amptelike orgaan (ISSN 0018-229X)
Geographic terms:South Africa
United States
About persons:Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)ISNI
Malcolm X (1925-1965) pseud. for Malcolm Little
Albert John Luthuli (1898-1967)ISNI
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013)ISNI
Abstract:Biographer Manning Marable argues that the 'tendency of historical revisionism' posthumously interprets Malcolm X 'through the powerful lens of Martin Luther King, Jr' and in doing so, is 'unfair' to both. A similar dynamic can be observed within the South African context when Nelson Mandela is interpreted 'through the powerful lens' of Albert Luthuli. The conflation is exacerbated when Luthuli is likewise 'interpreted through the powerful lens' of Mandela; that for which each stood is inaccurately attributed to the other. Luthuli is wrongly portrayed as a supporter of armed revolution and Mandela is wrongly portrayed as an ideological descendant of Luthuli (of the same ilk as King and Mohandas Gandhi). King and Malcolm X differed on the tactical and moral utility of violence in the struggle for human rights as did Luthuli and Mandela. As political rivals, Malcolm X politically undermined King and Mandela politically undermined Luthuli. The author compares and contrasts King and Malcolm X's respective views to develop themes related to the efficacy of pan-Africanism, violence and communism and identifies parallel themes in Luthuli and Mandela's views. The recent revelation following Mandela's death that he held membership in the South African Communist Party and served on its Central Committee during the early 1960s adds to the relevance of further examining how these icons are remembered and what role they played in South Africa's liberation from oppression. [Journal abstract]