Shadows of Justice by Graham Michael Lesch and Struan Douglas
The biography of Graham Michael Lesch Graham was labelled a criminal and wanted dead or alive by the apartheid government. He suffered more than 27 years in jail with torture and brutality at the hands of the so-called “master race.” His life journey paints a picture of a history from the other side that is so daring that it provides the light of love to witness the devastating impact politics has had on South Africa.
Graham felt Africa very strongly. He lived by the principles of uBuntu, patience and faith in the Almighty, which he called the great Architect of Africa.
"What was the struggle all about?"
Graham saw the political situation of South Africa not change. He had seen truth, reconciliation and justice and any other noble ideas of transformation as mere shadows, and in fact illusions. This book is written so that history is not distorted.
“The real fight today is against inhuman, relentless exercise of capitalistic power. The present struggle is for social and industrial justice. The same foreign powers that supported the Nationalist government are the same sources behind much of the skullduggery.” Extract
“Ever since the abolition of slavery, all nations scarred by inexplicable deeds, have revolutionised the ideological errors of their forefathers, creating a civilisation, where human beings of whatever colour, race or creed, should be born with equal privileges, of the fundamental human rights, as established by the League of Nations. Surly this cannot be seen in P W Botha? And if the beast was discovered in Adolf Hitler and the Anti-Christ in Mussolini – evidently this can be seen in presidents Botha, Vorster and Malan. Hendrik Verwoed paved the way for these Tsetse flies to place British mentality in their Statute books. Those same men were the reincarnation of the Anti-Christs for which humans paid the price. Along came FW De Klerk covered their crimes by financing Inkhata and now these Tsetse flies hold the honours for all the inhumanities without any shame, and so the victims passed through the bowels of Christ.” Extract
The humour of the story-telling The co-writing of the story In 2006 Graham Michael Lesch / aka Dennis Strydom gave writer Struan Douglas his original manuscript of Shadows of Justice. It was hilarious, racy and honest as he dodged both prison and racist mentality with art-fulness and humour. From his tantrum on the prison roof, to injecting cocaine to tolerate the brutal lashes, his epic escape from South Africa on foot and escaping the cycles of abuse by swallowing his Pentonville bed springs, this was an entertaining account told by a man who knew who he was.
"I was a young music journalist with no experience of history or politics. Graham said he did not mind, but would take me out of the music industry to do his book and when he was finished I would return, but in a different capacity. This turned out true," Extract
Graham was living on borrowed time. After six months of ghost-writing the story, on December 16th 2006, a first draft of the manuscript was presented. Dennis was happy, his life's work was complete. He shined with a kind of inner peace and humour. Shortly afterwards, Dennis fell in the house and died. He died on February 1st 2007. His family and friends held a wonderful memorial service for him in the Durban Botanic Gardens.
Foundation for a liberation history
"The true heroes of the struggle have not yet been recognised,” Jackie Ahrenstein
As a fighter for human rights, Graham continued the traditions of his Baba Archie Gumede and Archbishop Dennis Hurley to help recognise the true heroes of the struggle.
Baba Archie Gumede
Archibald Gumede was born in 1914. He led the Natal Delegates to the Congress of the people at Kliptown where the freedom charter was drawn in 1955. He qualified as an attorney-at-law and practiced in Pietermaritzburg. He was elected in 1994 to the National Parliament, of which he remained a member until his death in 1998.” Baba Archie Gumede was the son of Josiah Tshangana Gumede (1870 – 1947).
Josiah Gumede was: “An outstanding leader talented in music and a prominent journalist. He was a politician for the cause of the liberation of the oppressed peoples of Africa, Asia, South Africa and the world. Josiah made his first trip to Europe in the years 1892 as a talented musician accompanying a Zulu choir. He studied in Grahamstown and then became a teacher retiring to become personal advisor to numerous chiefs. He was thus an authority in respect of traditional and urban life of his people. In 1906 he made his second visit overseas, to London to discuss a Sotho claim in Orange Free State. Hence he was not confining his work amongst the Zulu’s of Natal. All his life he wanted a South Africa wide national liberation body. In 1927 he made his fourth visit overseas to the Brussels conference. Josiah Gumede remained as proprietor of ABANT-BATHO, the congress paper to which he gave his great journalistic talents.”
“Stand up in defence of human values. Truly respect fundamental human rights and noble divine concepts of man, the dignity of man and the worth of an individual, the brotherhood of man… “Rather lose all than lose our souls and honour and so save ourselves the shame of earning the disdain of our contemporaries and the condemnation of posterity but worse suffer eternal damnation for indeed what will it profit to gain the whole world but lose our own soul?” Quotes from the Opening address to South African Indian Congress, Gandhi Hall, Johannesburg, October 19, 1956
Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli was born 1898. He went to the mission school in Groutville. He attended additional courses at Adam’s College (in 1920), and went on to become part of the college staff. In 1935 Luthuli accepted the chieftaincy of the Groutville reserve. He joined the African National Congress in 1945 and was elected Natal provincial president in 1951 and in 1952 president-general. In 1956 he was arrested. On release he was confined to his home in Stanger, Natal. In 1961 Chief Albert Luthuli was awarded the 1960 Nobel Prize for Peace. In 1963 he published his autobiography, ‘Let My People Go’. On 21 July 1967, whilst out walking near his home, Luthuli was hit by a train and died.
“Chris Hani would have been the president. The Americans and South Africans were scared of Chris Hani. They had to assassinate Chris Hani because they did not want communism taking over here. The Americans are fanatically anti-communist. They did not want a foothold of communism in Africa.” Graham Michael Lesch
“I was born in a small rural town in the Transkei called Cofimvaba. This town is almost two hundred kilometres from East London. I am the fifth child in a family of six. My mother is completely illiterate and my father semi-literate. My father was a migrant worker in the mines in the Transvaal, but he subsequently became an unskilled worker in the building industry. Our mother had to supplement the family budget through subsistence farming. She had to bring us up with very little assistance from my father who was always away working for the white capitalists. I had to walk twenty kilometres to school every five days and then walk the same distance to church every Sunday. At the age of eight I was already an altar boy in the Catholic church and was quite devout. After finishing my primary school education, I had a burning desire to become a priest but this was vetoed by my father. In 1954, while I was doing my secondary education, the apartheid regime introduced Bantu Education which was designed to indoctrinate African pupils to accept and recognise the supremacy of the white man over the blacks in all spheres. This angered and outraged us and paved the way for my involvement in the struggle. In 1961 I joined the underground South African Communist Party as I realised that national liberation, though essential, would not bring about total economic liberation. ” Chris Hani, writing February 1991 (A.N.C. online).
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Nelson Mandela. “In the life of any individual, family, community or society, memory is of fundamental importance.” Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 into the royal family of the Thembu, of the Xhosa of the Eastern Cape. His Xhosa name, Rolihlahla, has the colloquial meaning “trouble-maker”. He received his English name, at Healdtown, a British colonial boarding school. Mandela went to Fort Hare University to do a Bachelors degree. He was expelled in 1940 for leading a Student Representative Council strike with Oliver Tambo. Nelson Mandela ran away to Johannesburg. In 1944, He, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo amongst others formed the A.N.C. Youth League. He completed his law degree through the University of the Witwatersrand, and with Tambo set up a law firm. He went abroad for military training, and on his return formed the A.N.C.’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (meaning spear of the nation). In 1962 Mandela was arrested for treason and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1964 Nelson Mandela was convicted of sabotage and treason and sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. Nelson Mandela was released on 11 February 1990. He was inaugurated as the first democratically elected State President of South Africa from May 1994 until June 1999.
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
Steve Biko was born in King William’s Town, South Africa. He excelled in school. He was expelled from Lovedale High School. He received a scholarship to attend St. Francis College in Natal, a Catholic boarding school. While in Medical School, Biko became involved in the NUSAS (National Union Of South African Students). In 1968, Steve Biko was the first president of the South African Students’ Organization (SASO) The primary aim of the organization was to raise ‘black consciousness’ in South Africa through lectures and community activities. Biko preached African solidarity to “break the chains of oppression”. Biko was banned in 1973. For the next four years, he continued to spread his message at gatherings and with his underground publication called “Frank Talk”. During this period Biko was often harassed, arrested, and detained by the South African Police. He gave the place of culture in the struggle centre stage. Steve Biko was murdered in police detention September 1977.
Born in 1936 Graham fought for human rights from all angles. He saw himself as a white man in Africa, here to set right the wrongs of his tribal line. He shared a deep spirituality with the ancestral heritage of the African continent and thanked the great architect of Africa for his grace. He found no greater enemy than South Africa’s apartheid government. From 1952 – 1974 he was labeled a notorious criminal and incarcerated in many jails from which he escaped. In jail he was starved and tortured, out of jail he was hunted. He fled South Africa in 1969 by foot in a futile attempt to join the P.A.C. in Tanzania. On learning to read he overcame his dyslexia and by swallowing his bed springs freed himself from jail. In 1975 he married Jenny Clark. Jenny had polio as a child and is 95% physically disabled. Graham was never involved in any political party and fought for freedom, justice and equality from the unwavering truths of his heart.