Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013. Tony Bogues, a member of the boundary 2 Collective, was in South Africa, watching the endless coverage of the news and of Mandela’s life. Bogues had met Mandela during his time with the Jamaican government of Michael Manley, and he has spent considerable time working in South Africa, especially in Cape Town, on questions of freedom, archives, African and African Diaspora intellectual history, and political thought.
At least one generation of intellectuals had stood against apartheid and reflected on Mandela as a political figure of freedom and liberation. Mandela never produced anything equivalent to the political writings of a Gramsci, Fanon, or Césaire. Because of the media and the global support for the struggles he led, Mandela acquired a resonance with effects across the globe. His career, with all its changes, posed challenges for thinking about politics.
It seemed right that boundary 2 should take notice of Mandela and his influence. We decided to gather responses to Mandela as a political figure. b2 issued a call for very brief papers from several spots on the globe and from different generations. Our contributors have given us reason to feel this attempt was a success.