The Okhela Story

Monday, 13 May, 2013 - 15:00

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In the course of writing a book on Okhela (for there’s no such book, so far as I know), I came across many variations on this story, and what I have found particularly powerful is the way the assorted tellings and many truths have shaped the lives of both the storytellers and the subjects of the story. Okhela is an unsettling story that does not fit easily into the dominant narrative of the South African struggle for liberation. Amongst other things, Okhela highlights the incipient split in the movement between the nationalists and the communists.  It highlights too, the work of Johnny Makhatini, close comrade of Tambo, and nationalist. Makhatini was close to Inkatha, and to the effort to bring Buthelezi back into the fold of the movement. Okhela was central to the role which Tambo and Makhatini wanted for SACTU. Makhatini is one of the least-written about and yet utterly crucial ANC leaders. He operated more or less as a free agent, in Africa, Europe and the USA.


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