Originally published on June 18, 2018.
Nelson Mandela, who would have turned one hundred this year, led one of history’s most powerful nonviolent movements to victory. But as the first post-apartheid elections approached in 1994, the democratic struggle threatened to spiral into an all-out race war, with well-armed white militias ready to fight to the death to stop black rule. Their leader was General Constand Viljoen, retired chief of South Africa’s military. Mandela knew he couldn’t avert a bloodbath on his own; somehow he would have to win over his archenemy. As they met secretly during those tense months, the mettle of these two men would determine the future of a nation.
As foreign correspondent for the Independent of London, John Carlin had a front-row seat as the drama unfolded, with access to leaders on both sides. This excerpt from Plough’s graphic novel Mandela and the General opens with Carlin interviewing General Viljoen at a Cape Town bar several years later.