The Mandela of Glenmore

Ben Mafani is Glenmore’s patriarch, its champion. His athletic frame understates his age, his nimble mind, uncompromising conviction. It’s easy to understand why he is dubbed the Mandela of Glenmore.

A former boxer who now teaches the sport to many of the local youths, a handful forming an informal honour guard as he navigates the hot Sunday streets.

Pointing and proclaiming as we walk, Mafani is larger than any story here. He was the reason two journalists originally came to Glenmore.

Mafani threw rocks through the windows of the Grahamstown High Court in protest at the residents of the informal settlement having no work or basic facilities.

It was, he smiles, his own way of getting a neglectful state to notice this place once more. A tiny declaration of war on behalf of a speck of a town in a homeland that no longer exists, against a country Ben feels has become too big to care.

He narrowly avoided jail for his offenses, which is more impressive when according to his account he went back twice more over the years, rocks in hand, to wage battle when there seemed no other means of protest.

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Ben Mafani
Ben Mafani