Fifty years before his death in 2013, Nelson Mandela stood before Justice de Wet in Pretoria's Palace of Justice and delivered one of the most spectacular and liberating statements ever made from a dock. In what came to be regarded as "the trial that changed South Africa", Mandela summed up the spirit of the liberation struggle and the moral basis for the post-Apartheid society. In this blistering critique of Apartheid and its perversion of justice, Mandela transforms the law into a sword and shield. He invokes it while undermining it, uses it while subverting it, and claims it while defeating it. Wise and strategic, Mandela skilfully reimagines the courtroom as a site of visibility and hearing, opening up a political space within the legal. This volume returns to the Rivonia courtroom to engage with Mandela's masterful performance of resistance and the dramatic core of that transformative event. Cutting across a wide-range of critical theories and discourses, contributors reflect on the personal, spatial, temporal, performative, and literary dimensions of that constitutive event. By redefining the spaces, institutions and discourses of law, contributors present a fresh perspective that re-sets the margins of what can be thought and said in the courtroom.
Awol Allo is Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.