Comrade Tata Madiba: A Tribute
By Jose Mario De Vega
Now that the Great One has died so many so-called “world leaders” has come out to offer their prayers and solidarity to this great man, to his family and to his people; yet my question is: where the hell are all these people when Mandela is languishing in jail for 27 years?
In the scathing words of Peter Beinart, “Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then”, The Daily Beast, December 5:
“If we turn the late South African leader into a nonthreatening moral icon, we’ll forget a key lesson from his life: America isn’t always a force for freedom.
“Now that he’s dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington’s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy.
“In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan placed Mandela’s African National Congress on America’s official list of “terrorist” groups. In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution urging that he be released from jail. In 2004, after Mandela criticized the Iraq War, an article in the National Review said his “vicious anti-Americanism and support for Saddam Hussein should come as no surprise, given his longstanding dedication to communism and praise for terrorists.” As late as 2008, the ANC remained on America’s terrorism watch list, thus requiring the 89-year-old Mandela to receive a special waiver from the secretary of State to visit the U.S.”
Such a bloody hypocrisy of this so-called “land of the brave and the free”
The true Mandela is… “like Martin Luther King, who publicly repudiated Lyndon Johnson’s claim that Vietnam was a war for democracy, Mandela rejected George W. Bush’s idealistic rationalizations of the Iraq War. In 2003, when Bush was promising to liberate Iraq’s people, Mandela said, “All that he wants is Iraqi oil.” When Bush declared Iraq’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons a threat to the planet, Mandela had the bad manners to remind Bush that the only country to have actually used nukes was the United States. Mandela’s message to America’s leaders, born from firsthand experience, was clear: Don’t pretend you are pure.
“As with King, it is this subversive aspect of Mandela’s legacy that is most in danger of being erased as he enters America’s pantheon of sanitized moral icons. But it is precisely the aspect that Americans most badly need. American power and human freedom are two very different things. Sometimes they intersect; sometimes they do not. Walking in Nelson Mandela’s footsteps requires being able to tell the difference.”
It is on the same line of reasoning that I also concur with the sharp and direct commentator of Okwonga.com (“Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel”, December 6th) in his categorical and obnoxious remark that:
“Dear revisionists, Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view. Right now, you are anxiously pacing the corridors of your condos and country estates, looking for the right words, the right tributes, the right-wing tributes. You will say that Mandela was not about race. You will say that Mandela was not about politics. You will say that Mandela was about nothing but one love, you will try to reduce him to a lilting reggae tune. “Let’s get together, and feel alright.” Yes, you will do that.”
For the benefit of all, the true and the false ones, the pure and the impure, the noble and the ignoble, the genuine and the bastards, the revolutionaries and the reactionaries, the activists and the good for nothing, the strong and the weak, the legitimate and the pretenders, the radicals and the conservatives, etc. let us call a spade and spade and let us be objective, no matter how uncomfortable and inconvenient it is!
Let us give this great man the due recognition and the justice that he justly deserve!
Hence, now let us talk about some serious and in my view, central core principles and beliefs that Madiba believed in which unfortunately most ‘people’, especially from the ‘West’ won’t talk about or perhaps, now that he is safely dead and gone; they may talk about it, but they will try to satinize or cleanse the old man to the absurd point of canonizing him, which at the same time in an ironical sense is downgrading and/or minimizing his “terrorism”, “communism”, “violence” and “radicalism”.
This is a shame!
Madiba is Madiba and there is no kind of propaganda and/or ‘rehabilitation’ that will succeed in changing him for what he is truly was! No amount of disinformation and lies will prosper to hijack his true legacy and the meaning of his life!
On June 26, 1961, he’s what Madiba stated in an official press statement:
“I am informed that a warrant for my arrest has been issued, and that the police are looking for me. The National Action Council has given full and serious consideration to this question, and has sought the advice of many trusted friends and bodies and they have advised me not to surrender myself. I have accepted this advice, and will not give myself up to a government I do not recognise. Any serious politician will realise that under present-day conditions in this country, to seek for cheap martyrdom by handing myself to the police is naive and criminal. We have an important programme before us and it is important to carry it out very seriously and without delay.
“I have chosen this latter course, which is more difficult and which entails more risk and hardship than sitting in gaol. I have had to separate myself from my dear wife and children, from my mother and sisters, to live as an outlaw in my own land. I have had to close my business, to abandon my profession, and live in poverty and misery, as many of my people are doing. I will continue to act as the spokesman of the National Action Council during the phase that is unfolding and in the tough struggles that lie ahead. I shall fight the government side by side with you, inch by inch, and mile by mile, until victory is won. What are you going to do? Will you come along with us, or are you going to co-operate with the government in its efforts to suppress the claims and aspirations of your own people? Or are you going to remain silent and neutral in a matter of life and death to my people, to our people? For my own part I have made my choice. I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.”
In 1964, these are the fighting words that he spoke in a South African courtroom:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. 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.”
He and his comrades are on trial “for plotting to overthrow the country’s all-white apartheid government.” As we all know, Mandela received a life sentence and he is imprisoned for nearly next three decades. While in jail, he “became a worldwide symbol in the fight to end the apartheid subjugating South Africa’s black majority.”
He fought for justice, for equality, for racial harmony and for the dignity and humanity of each human being regardless of their race, culture, station in life and nationality.
Now, he is dead, but it is my firm belief that all his beliefs and principles wherein he dedicated his life-long struggle will never ever die, because in truth and in fact, he is the last pure hero of his era!
Aviva Shen and Judd Legum’s “Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most People Won’t Talk About”, Think Progress, December 6th listed the following positions undertaken consistently by Mandela through the years:
“1. Mandela blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism. Mandela called Bush “a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly,” and accused him of “wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust” by going to war in Iraq. “All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil,” he said. Mandela even speculated that then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan was being undermined in the process because he was black. “They never did that when secretary-generals were white,” he said. He saw the Iraq War as a greater problem of American imperialism around the world. “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care,” he said.
“2. Mandela called freedom from poverty a “fundamental human right.” Mandela considered poverty one of the greatest evils in the world, and spoke out against inequality everywhere. “Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation — that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils,” he said. He considered ending poverty a basic human duty: “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life,” he said. “While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”
“3. Mandela criticized the “War on Terror” and the labeling of individuals as terrorists without due process. On the U.S. terrorist watch list until 2008 himself, Mandela was an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush’s war on terror. He warned against rushing to label terrorists without due process. While forcefully calling for Osama bin Laden to be brought to justice, Mandela remarked, “The labeling of Osama bin Laden as the terrorist responsible for those acts before he had been tried and convicted could also be seen as undermining some of the basic tenets of the rule of law.”
“4. Mandela called out racism in America. On a trip to New York City in 1990, Mandela made a point of visiting Harlem and praising African Americans’ struggles against “the injustices of racist discrimination and economic equality.” He reminded a larger crowd at Yankee Stadium that racism was not exclusively a South African phenomenon. “As we enter the last decade of the 20th century, it is intolerable, unacceptable, that the cancer of racism is still eating away at the fabric of societies in different parts of our planet,” he said. “All of us, black and white, should spare no effort in our struggle against all forms and manifestations of racism, wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.”
“5. Mandela embraced some of America’s biggest political enemies. Mandela incited shock and anger in many American communities for refusing to denounce Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who had lent their support to Mandela against South African apartheid. “One of the mistakes the Western world makes is to think that their enemies should be our enemies,” he explained to an American TV audience. “We have our own struggle.” He added that those leaders “are placing resources at our disposal to win the struggle.” He also called the controversial Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat “a comrade in arms.”
“6. Mandela was a die-hard supporter of labor unions. Mandela visited the Detroit auto workers union when touring the U.S., immediately claiming kinship with them. “Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades, the man who is speaking is not a stranger here,” he said. “The man who is speaking is a member of the UAW. I am your flesh and blood.””
To reiterate, here’s his take on the following world issues:
On US Imperialism
“If you look at those matters [Iraq], you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.”
On Israel’s War Criminal Actions
“Israel should withdraw from all the areas which it won from the Arabs in 1967, and in particular Israel should withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, from south Lebanon and from the West Bank,”
“From its earliest days, the Cuban Revolution has also been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of the vicious imperialist-orchestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gain made in the Cuban Revolution….Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro.”
“It is our duty to give support to the brother leader [Gaddafi]…especially in regards to the sanctions which are not hitting just him, they are hitting the ordinary masses of the people … our African brothers and sisters,”
On the Palestinians
“The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
He is a close friend and supporter of the PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
Hence, to all those pretenders, liars and hypocrites of all types and kinds; don’t ever dare to change or repackage or rehabilitate or transform or re-label our Madiba for something he is not.
He will always be a revolutionary, an outlaw, a “terrorist”, a radical, a liberator and one of the greatest icons and voices of Mankind for all Humanity!
As he himself stated:
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
LONG LIVE NELSON MANDELA!!!
LONG LIVE TATA MADIBA!!!
Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines
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