Thursday, December 05, 2013

Telling the Truth About Nelson Mandela

“Mandela, too, fostered crony relationships with wealthy whites from the corporate world, including those who had profited from apartheid. He saw this as part of ‘reconciliation’.” John Pilger
I am feeling very sad right now. I don’t feel sad because Nelson Mandela died today. After all he was 95 and had been ill for some time. Of course if he were my father or grand father I would not be so sanguine, but ultimately we all have to die and preferably in peace without physical suffering.
I feel sad because the hideous hagiography has already begun. The sickening mantra that he forgave white people. As I pointed out in a recent Black Agenda Report column, Black people are always lauded if they forgive white people. If Mandela didn’t forgive white people for what they did to South Africa, well, who could blame him? White people of course but I digress.
Mandela fought the good fight against oppression for many years. That is why he was imprisoned in the first place. But his release from prison and the direction the ANC took after he became president were intertwined with deals he made to keep white people on top economically and the country firmly in the grip of avaricious capitalism.
We at Black Agenda Report have reported numerous times on the betrayal of black South Africans by their own misleadership class. We were fortunate to meet with Ronnie Kasrils, a long time ANC member and Mandela comrade who has told uncomfortable truths about the end of apartheid.
“What I call our Faustian moment came when we took an IMF loan on the eve of our first democratic election. That loan, with strings attached that precluded a radical economic agenda, was considered a necessary evil, as were concessions to keep negotiations on track and take delivery of the promised land for our people. Doubt had come to reign supreme: we believed, wrongly, there was no other option; that we had to be cautious, since by 1991 our once powerful ally, the Soviet union, bankrupted by the arms race, had collapsed. Inexcusably, we had lost faith in the ability of our own revolutionary masses to overcome all obstacles. Whatever the threats to isolate a radicalizing South Africa, the world could not have done without our vast reserves of minerals. To lose our nerve was not necessary or inevitable. The ANC leadership needed to remain determined, united and free of corruption – and, above all, to hold on to its revolutionary will. Instead, we chickened out.”
Mandela need not be vilified completely, but he doesn’t need to be canonized either. While the Cubans must be given credit for bringing about South Africa’s military defeat, it is also necessary to talk about the deals that Mandela made to get out of prison.
Black South Africans are free to travel where they want but that freedom means little if going on strike means being killed by the police. It doesn’t mean anything if the country still supplies the world with  wealth which the workers will never enjoy.
I am feeling sad because the lies and dumbing down will be thick until his funeral takes place. I’m hoping that event will take place as quickly as possible. I don’t look forward to Obama claiming that he loved Mandela and he was inspired by him and blah, blah, and blah. I don’t want to see British royals looking solemn or celebrities who don’t much of anything suddenly claiming to know South African history.
I wonder how Fidel Castro is feeling now. He fought for decades to aid African liberation movements. How does he feel after seeing his South African comrades succumb so badly and so blatantly? Does he regret his decision to defeat apartheid? I wonder.
Let’s tell the truth, the whole truth about Nelson Mandela.