The Inkatha Freedom Party Perspective: Warlords to Peacelords?

  • Edmund Yorke


Mandela’s angry riposte, delivered to an estimated 2000 jeering Zulu amakhosi (chiefs), indunas (head-men) and ‘retainers’ gathered together to discuss a planned imbizo (peace-gathering of the Zulu nation), was an extremely symbolic political confrontation. On the one hand stood the heavily guarded Lincolnesque2 figure of ‘madiba’, elected leader and ‘father’ of a new unitary South African nation; on the other, a hostile crowd predominantly supportive of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Party, which openly advocated regional autonomy, even secession from the new South African state. The ‘indaba’ was a personally courageous act by President Mandela; this was not only his first address in northern KwaZulu-Natal since his release from prison in February 1990, but it was one which took place in the heart of opposition territory, an area wracked by years of factional violence and political assassination.


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  1. 2.
    This might be considered an anomalous description bearing in mind that President Mandela’s only previous experience of the famous statesman was via the drama society at Fort Hare where, as a student, he played Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth! N. Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (London: Little Brown and Company, 1994), p. 55.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    G. Mare and G. Hamilton, An Appetite for Power: Buthelezi’s Inkatha and South Africa (Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  3. 30.
    N. Gwala, ‘Political Violence and the Struggle for Control in Pietermar-itzburg’, JSAS 18, 3 (September 1992), pp. 615–27.Google Scholar
  4. 31.
    Ibid. For a further discussion of theories of violence causation see also R. Taylor and M. Shaw, The Natal Conflict’, in J.D. Brewer (ed.), Restructuring South Africa (London: Macmillan, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994).Google Scholar

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© E. J. Yorke 1998

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  • Edmund Yorke

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