A force of moral greatness: what we learnt from Mlangeni in prison
He taught through example, skill and experience, and never looked down on fellow liberation fighters
My first encounter with Comrade Andrew Mlangeni was in late 1979 or early 1980 on Robben Island after he and his fellow Rivonia Treason Trial prisoners, Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Ahmed Kathrada, had had one of their consultations with their lawyers just outside the administration block.
I was part of a group that had been working on repairing Robben Island roads and also dragging some seaweed from the ocean for export – to make perfumes in far-flung lands such as Taiwan, we were told.
Some of us in the group had just arrived on the Island and were clearly overawed to meet these famous Rivonia Trial prisoners and heroes when the latter stopped to greet us...