by Keren Banza
Mandla J. Radebe’s biography of Jabulani Nobleman ‘Mzala’ Nxumalo was launched on 3 March by the school of journalism and media studies and the department of political and international studies at the university currently known as Rhodes (UCKAR).
The Lost Prince of the ANC: The Life and Times of Jabulani Nobleman ‘Mzala’ Nxumalo describes the life and times of Mzala, a revolutionary figure in the South African liberation movement within the ANC, celebrated for his intellectual insights and critical thinking.
Radebe, associate professor of strategic communication and director for the centre for data and digital communications at the University of Johannesburg, chronicles Mzala’s life from its beginning to his premature death in London at 35.
Born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal, Mzala was drawn to academic pursuits at an early age. At the University of Zululand, Mzala studied law and was an active South African Student Organisation (SASO) member.
In 1976 he went into exile, joining a liberation army Umkhonto we Sizwe, after participating in the nationwide outrage that followed the Soweto Uprising. He had always been an avid writer and would establish himself as an intellect in the ANC. Mzala wrote several articles and books, under many pseudonyms, such as Cooking the Rice Inside the Pot and Gatsha Buthelezi: Chief with a Double Agenda.
The book launch began with a video from Vusi Mavimbelo, who was well acquainted with Mzala. He discussed how throughout Mzala’s life, he was able to marry his deep Christian faith with his belief in Marxism. This was an asset in shaping his theory of liberation. Radebe then conversed with Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, well-known television journalist, lecturer at the university’s school of journalism and a comrade of Mzala.
Radebe “stitched together and traced [Mzala’s early years] so well”, covering Mzala’s strike organising efforts in high school to the moments where he passionately recited Shakespeare, said Gqubule-Mbeki.
Mzala “did not fear to raise his voice”, and was rebellious but he still “structured in his thoughts” Gqubule-Mbeki added.
Radebe noted that Mzala often called out the shortcomings of the ANC. His liberation theory was that the people must be at the heart of the liberation, because “guns do not create a liberation people do”.
Radebe’s insightful biography gives a full picture of Mzala and his complexities, highlighting his commitment to family, the liberation movement, his love of the arts, Christianity and Marxism. The book is sold by Jacana Media for R340.