He’s just reiterating what the First Nations peoples have been hearing for generation after generation. His approach is not going to solve anything. Peaceful talks with a racist and oppressive government, a government that has a vested interest in continuing to marginalize the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, are not going to bring about any kind of real change. As NDP candidate Shannon Phillips said, Nelson Mandela didn’t do 27 years in prison for sitting in the wrong seat on the bus. He was there, in part, for his role in bombing a power station in order to make the machinery of a racist regime grind to a halt. A regime most of the world, including Canada under those Great Liberals Pearson and Trudeau, thought was completely a-ok. So can we just remember that next time we see indigenous people blockading a highway? Thanks. So the next time you hear about a First Nations blockade or protest or hunger strike, I want you to look at it from a different angle. I want you to consider how our government’s treatment of the Aboriginal peoples of this country compares to the South African apartheid. And most of all I want you to ask yourself: if he were here, in Canada today, what would Nelson Mandela do?
At the dawn of the Nelson Mandela administration, I had the extraordinary privilege to sit at the table with the new African National Congress leadership as the Environmental Protection Agency /White House liaison to the Mandela government. My job was to work with the new ANC leadership to design and provide US technical environmental expertise to assist the majority population's recovery from the environmental and public health disaster the apartheid system imposed on it. This process took place through the flagship foreign policy vehicle, the US-South African BiNational Commission commonly called the Gore-Mbeki Commission or the BNC. All bilateral foreign policy activities between the US and South Africa took place through this Commission.
When I was offered the position of Executive Secretary to the BNC in 1995, I made it clear to the EPA—citing racist US foreign policy in other African countries—that I would not be a part of any diabolical scheme against the South African people. I was a supporter of the South African Freedom Charter and excited about helping the Mandela government implement environmental policies that would reverse decades of harmful and at times fatal policies towards the black majority. Soon after assuming my position I realized that something had gone terribly wrong. In a 1996 letter to my mentor, professor Noam Chomsky I wrote: "The Freedom Charter is not on the table. I’m heart broken to report that despite the blood sacrifice of so many activists, South Africa is entering a neo-colonial phase."
In the time since his death at age 95, Nelson Mandela’s thinking on the strategic direction of the liberation struggle in South Africa has been oversimplified by proponents of nonviolent and armed resistance alike. His leadership in the relatively peaceful end to the brutal apartheid system was indeed critical, as was his leadership three decades earlier in the shift from nonviolent to armed resistance by the African National Congress (ANC). Yet many analysts have largely ignored the critical events in South Africa which took place in between, during his nearly three decades in prison. While, on principle, Mandela refused to renounce violence from his prison cell as long as the far more violent apartheid regime refused to do the same, he also recognized the limits of guerrilla warfare in a country where the regime had all the advantages when it came to armed conflict. However morally justifiable armed struggle may have been in the face of such brutality, it simply was not working. Indeed, in the final years of his imprisonment, he - like other ANC leaders - recognized that it was the growing waves of strikes and boycotts, the establishment of parallel institutions, and other forms of unarmed resistance by the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the ANC’s political wing, that would eventually free South Africa from white minority rule.
Nowhere is that blindness more apparent then in the constant, puerile need to critique Mandela's turn toward violence. The impulse is old. "Why Won't Mandela Renounce Violence?" asked a New York Times column in 1990. Is that what we said to Savimbi? To Mobutu? Malcolm X understood: If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us, and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country. Martin Luther King Jr. agreed: As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems ... But, they asked, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government. As did Mandela. Offered the chance to be free by the avowed white supremacist P.W. Botha if he would renounce violence, Mandela replied, “Let him renounce violence.”
ith coverage of Mandela's death dominating the media now, can the story of the CIA's role in Mandela's capture be told? Mostly not. The link between the CIA and Mandela's capture--reported by CBS Evening News (8/5/86) and in a New York Times column by Andrew Cockburn (10/13/86)--was almost entirely unmentioned in media discussions of his death. There were a few exceptions. MSNBC host Chris Hayes mentioned it on December 5 ("We know there's reporting that indicates the CIA actually helped the South African police nab Mandela the first time he was captured"). On Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC show (12/7/13), Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman brought it up: "The US devoted more resources to finding Mandela to hand over to the apartheid forces than the apartheid forces themselves. It was the CIA that actually located Mandela, and he was driving dressed up as a chauffeur when he was stopped, and he was arrested and ultimately serves 27 years in prison."
The people of South Africa came together to celebrate the life of former South African president Nelson Mandela. In the rain, tens of thousands entered the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg and were joined by world leaders, celebrities and royals from around the world, who wanted to be there for a memorial service that lasted more than four hours. President Barack Obama delivered a speech, and he shook the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro. When he arrived after being stuck in traffic, the crowd in the stadium cheered loudly. That is what is likely to dominate the reports on the memorial service, but this exclusive focus on Obama’s role in the memorial should be rejected. One of the most profound aspects of the memorial service was the dynamic created by the fact that it was taking place in South Africa and not a Western country. Leading the event were proud leaders from South Africa, and presidents or prime ministers of countries with a history of involvement in colonialism against African countries stood by listening. So, here are some of the highlights likely to be glossed over or entirely omitted from US news reports. Cuban assistance played a key role in bringing about an end to apartheid.
Resistance Report #14: Mandela, activist working with Stratfor, fast food workers walks out and update on Iran Reflecting on the death of Nelson Mandela, Jerome Roos, writing at Roar magazine states: “The only appropriate way to honor the legacy of the iconic freedom fighter is not to beatify the man but to take his struggle to its logical conclusion.” The finality of death, combined with the human need for a neat linear narrative, will work against placing Mandela’s impact on a continuum. For, while it may be true that the arc of the moral universe is long, but bends towards justice – that bending is still not happening for too many in South Africa, and the world over. Additional Stories covered in Resistance Report #14: Does A Globally Renowned Activist Have Ties To Global Intel Firm STRATFOR? The Fight For 15 and What is Up With Iran?
Before Mandela advocated truth and reconciliation he was not a pacifist. He was not like Gandhi or Martin Luther King. He did not value non-violence for its own sake. He saw violence as a tool to be used or discarded pending the layout of the political battlefield. Nelson Mandela was never a pacifist. When the Ghandi route of non-violent civil disobedience brought only violence from the state, Mandela declared “The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices – submit or fight.That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom” He played a leading role in setting up the ANC’s guerrilla wing, and traveled abroad to gather support, even undergoing guerrilla training himself in Algeria, from the commanders of the FLN who had recently ejected the French colonials.
But his anger was never greater than his patience or forgiveness. People say, look at what he achieved in his years in government – what a waste those 27 years in prison were. I maintain his prison term was necessary because when he went to jail, he was angry. He was relatively young and had experienced a miscarriage of justice; he wasn't a statesperson, ready to be forgiving: he was commander-in-chief of the armed wing of the party, which was quite prepared to use violence. The time in jail was quite crucial. Of course, suffering embitters some people, but it ennobles others. Prison became a crucible that burned away the dross. People could never say to him: "You talk glibly of forgiveness. You haven't suffered. What do you know?" Twenty-seven years gave him the authority to say, let us try to forgive. The most fitting memorial to Mandela is to make a success of what he helped to establish. He was clear that, ultimately, no one is indispensible. He was a great one for stressing that he was a loyal member of the ANC, and that no one was bigger than the movement. But, of course, we know better.
Mandela’s country remains torn apart by grinding poverty, rampant inequality, murderous crime, a deadly AIDS epidemic, pervasive political corruption, and a resurgence of brutal state oppression. The story of post-apartheid South Africa, and the mixed legacy of Mandela’s heroic struggle for freedom, must certainly qualify as one of the most authentic tragedies in modern history. As I wrote in a lengthy essay during a visit to Johannesburg last month, a pernicious form of socio-economic apartheid continues to segregate the country into two polar extremes. The newfound vanities of the emerging interracial upper class are mirrored only by the nauseating proliferation of slums on the outskirts of the cities. Apart from the right to vote, not much has changed for the average black South African. Today, 47% of South Africans live in poverty, more than in 1994 when Mandela came to power and made his “unbreakable promise” to eradicate poverty and secure “housing for all”. Two decades later, the amount of South Africans living in slums has doubled.
The anti-apartheid leader in South African who spent 27 years in prison and then was released to become the South Aftrica's first black president died today at 95 years old. We remember him in his own words and images. Three videos: the young Mandela at 22 describing his plans to free South Africans, video of his exit from prison and his inauguration speech as president. This is followed by quotations from Mandela on a range of issues, e.g. poverty, racism apartheid, love, freedom, optimism, forgiveness, liberation and more. Finally a series of photos highlighting key moments in his life.