Algeria recalls Mandela's military training
International peace icon, Nelson Mandela received military training in Algeria at the beginning of the 1960s because he wanted to learn how to use weapons and guerilla techniques, according to Algeria's National Archive Director, Abdelmadjid Chikhi.
The young Mandela, seeking an African model of fight against oppression, contacted senior members of the National Algerian Army (ALN) who briefed him on the necessity to use both diplomatic means and military action to defeat the racist regime of apartheid in South Africa.
"Mandela needed to acquire knowledge on how to make the transition [in his country] so he came to Algeria to acquire experience: how to cross the bridge from political to military action. This is why he met trainers who taught him how to use weapons and he also acquired strategic thinking that must prevail in any military action," Algeria's director of the national archive, Abdelmadjid Chikhi, said.
Mandela spent 27 years in an apartheid prison before becoming president and unifying his country with a message of reconciliation after the end of white minority rule. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with South Africa's last white president, F.W. de Klerk, in 1993.
Algeria got its independence in 1962 after a war of more than seven years with France, showing other African countries that independence was possible, Algerians say.
Mandela visited Algeria after he left prison in 1993.
At a military museum in Algiers there are pictures showing Mandela with Algerian trainers.
Algeria was perceived by many revolutionaries in the 1960, and 1970s as a good model for independence. Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Malcolm X and others have visited Algeria to express support to the Algerian revolution.
Mandela's friend and senior member of the Algerian revolution, Chawki Mostefai, said of Mandela:
"I kept of Nelson Mandela the memory of the wise man, a profound man, a man who asked good questions, a man who had experience of people and trends. I guess that when he expressed the wish to know the army, we arranged a journey to Ouejda on the Algerian-Moroccan border where he was welcomed by our army there. In his book he was delighted and wrote very broadly and very positively.
That's the story of Mandela. I think that the Algerian policy with South Africa was a strategic policy. I remember my discussions with activists that Africa was going to escape its situation thanks to the Algeria-South Africa axis. This axis, this spine, these two countries are the spine of Africa, and indeed the Algerian government as far as I know has worked to help all the African parties and nations for African renewal."
Mandela, who died Thursday (December 5) aged 95, will be buried on Sunday (December 15) at his ancestral home in Qunu, 700 km (450 miles) south of Johannesburg.