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Fordsburg Fighter, the journey of an MK volunteer
the journey of an MK volunteer
AMIN CAJEE as told to Terry Bell
ISBN 9 780994 674425
An increasing chorus of dissenting voices is beginning to confirm long held suspicions that Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC) was anything but an army.
This view will hold because there is nothing from the archives of the former liberation movement to disprove it.
Those who were recruited to fight in its uniform say ‘we never had an armed struggle’ and the father of these forces Oliver Reginald Tambo, God bless his dear soul, is variedly reported as having described the much punted Wankie and Sipolilo excursions as ‘an heroic failure’.
Amin Cajee says: “Sitting in London and recruiting people to into South Africa to bring in banned literature while attending international conferences and meetings does not constitute an armed struggle.”
This book, detailing “the journey of an MK volunteer”, is an indictment on the triumphalists who’d want to fool us into believing this untrained and undisciplined collection of men was even a phantom of an army ready for full combat war.
Forget about the successes of war because MK knew none.
Go with Cajee into the Kongwa camp in Dar es Salaam where Joe Modise was the ogre in residence. If he was not holding back supplies, he was expecting combatants to shine his boots, throw a glass of water down his gullet as if he had no arms to drink it himself or just be a tribal bigot who thought the Xhosa wanted to run MK to the detriment of the Zulu and the Tswana.
As commander he expected to launch men across the Zambezi River to go engage the Rhodesians in war and those who were recalcitrant he lambasted as spineless cowards.
What did he do when he was dared to cross the river himself, lead from the front?
He walked away!
In exile in Tanzania, Modise was preoccupied with turning out resplendent in new clothes when his men were without uniform and were forced to steal one another’s fatigues, sometimes to sell to the locals.
If Cajee had not been at Kongwa, this book would have read like a personal attack on a dead man unable to answer for himself.
Modise just doesn’t come out of these 175 pages (where Cajee’s account ends) smelling of roses.
Kongwa was a hotbed of tribalism, sad for an army of men who ostensibly wished to return home to fight all the prejudice represented in Apartheid.
That he was of Indian origin – the first of two comrades to skip the country to sign up for MK – did not help matters.
MK cadres were sentenced to death for the minutest of transgressions and trumped-up charges. The whim of those like Modise held sway.
This is a disturbing book and one understands why Cajee (who changed his name from Aminoddin Kajee) did not want to tell it. It had to take a lot of cajoling by Terry Bell to finally get him to open up.
The tale of why he changed his name is a further blot on the supposedly heroic tale of MK.
Like many other cadres before him, Cajee was running away from certain death at the hands of his one-time comrades.
This is the third such book in three years. Soon the dirty linen of MK will be hung out to dry.
The story proper of how people were killed in ANC camps is still mired in secrecy. Soon the veil will lift if those like Cajee, Thula Bopela and Stanley Manong gradually find their voices and are kept awake by their consciences.
This is how he ends his story: “I do accept criticism of my choice from those few of my comrades who survived the tragedies of Wankie, Angola and elsewhere. If I bow my head it is to those who understood the military futility, but who decided it was better to to die fighting than to flee. I took the path of flight because I thought I could make a better contribution to the wider struggle by living. That was my decision and I am happy to live with it.”
Who can blame him?
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