This from educationalist Gus John


There appears to be an unwritten code of conduct in most societies I know that you speak good of the dead or hold your peace and let them rest in peace.

In the last few days I have longed for some people to do the latter and not pollute the spiritual balance of the Universe by rewriting history, making self indulgent claims and choosing to dissociate the goodness of Nelson Mandela from the evil he laid his life on the line to confront.  Some commentators proclaim as if Mandela’s ‘terrorist’ belief in the legitimacy of armed struggle against a genocidal regime was cured in the furnace of Robben Island, thus qualifying him to return to the fold of decent, peace loving citizens the world over.

Bizarrely, the Los Angeles Times carried an article on 7 December 2013 with the headline Robben Island:  The place that changed Nelson MandelaChanged from what to what?  This writer does not say. But, writing in the same paper the day before, David Horsey noted:

Mandela was a militant black man with a raised fist and that scared many people. But the revolution in his heart freed him from narrow ideology or racial enmity and made him able to seek the national reconciliation that led to a more complete liberty for all the citizens of South Africa, no matter the color of their skin. Yes, he was just a man, but he learned a key lesson that most revolutionaries, politicians and world leaders never learn: before you can change the world, you must change yourself.

Both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan denounced Mandela as a ‘terrorist’ and the ANC as a terrorist organisation. In 1987, Thatcher stated with all the authority at her command as British Prime Minister:

The ANC is a typical terrorist organization … Anyone who thinks it’s going to run a government is living in cloud-cuckoo land.

Thatcher was then head of a government that was buttressing the murderous apartheid regime in South Africa and breaking sanctions liberally and unapologetically. The suffering people of South Africa had been calling on the international community not just to take a stand in respect of the daily dehumanising grind of the state orchestrated barbarism of apartheid, but to refuse to do business as usual with the apartheid regime on account of massacres against an oppressed people who dared to act collectively against unjust laws and practices. Peaceful protest against the crushing pass laws brought the masses face to face with the military might of the state and resulted in the Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960.


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