High School History Recap

#14 The Cradock Four with Zikhona Valela

April 17, 2022 William H Palk, Colin du Plessis and Zikhona Valela Season 4 Episode 14
High School History Recap
#14 The Cradock Four with Zikhona Valela
Show Notes

The following twitter post accompanies this episode of The Cradock Four.


The historian, Zikhona Valela, joins us to talk about the Cradock Four and, more specifically, misinformation around the supposed famous photo of the Cradock Four. Zikhona tells the story of the four men who were murdered on June 27th, 1985. How did it happen that two of the four men, and the trauma of their families, were actually erased from the historical record? Why do we continue sharing convenient narratives that are, on closer inspection, inaccurate and untrue? Zikhona helps us to piece together some of the missing parts of the Cradock Four. We also consider some of the failures of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Some of the questions asked:

  • Who were Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli?
  • What motivated Zikhona to fight misconceptions about the past?
  • Is the South African public apathetic about their past?
  • How should we go about dispelling misinformation about the past?
  • What is missing from the conventional narrative of the Cradock Four?
  • How do we do the story of the Cradock Four justice?
  • Is the 1980s a turning point in South African history?
  • How did the United Democratic Front (UDF) come into existence?
  • Is the murders of Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli a case of mistaken identity?
  • How does the supposed photo of the Cradock Four perpetuate a false narrative?
  • How did it happen that Mbulelo Goniwe and Madoda Jacob were erased from history?
  • Who took the photograph of the Cradock Four? When was it taken?
  • The importance of crediting photographers
  • What did the families of the Cradock Four know before truths were revealed at the TRC?
  • Would the truth about the Cradock Four have come to light without the perpetrators testifying before the TRC?
  • Why did the Mbeki government not proceed with TRC recommendations?
  • Why was the late 1980s and early 1990s more violent than earlier decades?
  • Why would some people think of Nelson Mandela as a sell-out?
  • What were some of the failures of the TRC?
  • What should the lesson be that we take from the story of the Cradock Four?

Follow Zikhona Valela on twitter @valavoosh. Send questions and suggestions to William H Palk at @WilliamHPalk and Colin du Plessis at @C_duPlessis.

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