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Rescuing The Mandela Legacy: Treacherous Shortcuts To Catch up With The Wealthy White Community

30 December 2013

By Reason Wafawarova

THERE are peculiar and bugged out narratives about the life story of Nelson Mandela that sometimes one feels compelled to rescue the name of this legendary son of Africa. No amount of malevolence can ever take away the greatness in the name Nelson Mandela, and whatever measure of spleen may drive the anti-Mandela crusade, it cannot be enough to take away the aura of heroism synonymous with Mandela's personality, perceived or real.

It is not from his detractors that the Mandela legacy needs to be rescued. Rather the Mandela legacy needs to be rescued from the claws of those who praise sing a fabricated Mandela created out of the fancifulness of their own imaginations. It is a creation tactically contrived to set an example of a mythical hero whose character must be emulated so that humanity sanitises the sins of history to appear as if they totally do not matter in shaping the future of victims of historical injustices.

We are all supposed to mourn and venerate this mythical all-loving Nelson Mandela that sees all human beings as equally righteous and equally culpable over any form of sin or injustice. It is a Mandela that sees no difference between a perpetrator of injustice and his victim.

Once we endorse and immortalise this mythical Mandela we are supposed to forever idolise this angelic character as the arbiter of excellence — the dizzy height of eminence that every heroic politician will have to aspire to become. Not to disappoint many African leaders are already stepping all over each other trying to impress in the mould of this mythical heroic character so gracefully bestowed upon our own forebear.

There is this myth that in Mandela we have a reincarnation of the foregone glories of history — an undefiled custodian of all the heroic good that ever happened to the history of the black race. This myth decrees that in Mandela we have a Marcus Garvey, a Malcolm X and a Martin Luther King all put together, and nicely decorated by the pacifism of Mahatma Gandhi.

No doubt the Mandela loyalists across the globe will not take it kindly when any form of shortcoming is attributed to the hero, and that is quite normal in any form of idol worship.

In January 1996 Louis Farrakhan visited South Africa and received what the Western media described as "a verbal dress down" from Nelson Mandela. As usual the firebrand Farrakhan had called for an immediate reversal of white hegemony in South Africa, and he made it very clear that it was not supposed to be Mandela's headache what the feeling of the privileged whites would be.

Nelson Mandela responded by giving Farrakhan a little lecture.
He said: "In the 1950s, one of the principles we established was non-racialism, We have defended that policy without fear, and have now triumphed and are building a non-racial society in this country. Our basic objectives are to address the demands of the black majority, which have been disadvantaged . . . but in carrying out this mandate, we will make sure we do not do anything which could be seen as reverse racism."

Why then do we have a racially skewed economy in South Africa if the ‘iconic' Mandela is to be unquestionably idolised for his beliefs? Is it not criminal to idolise a man for his principle while we negate the principle itself?

Mandela joined an ANC that had a significant level of support from a sizeable minority of the white community, just like Zanla and Zipra forces that fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe counted among their supporters the likes of Guy-Clutton Brock or Sir Garfield Todd. It is the ANC that taught Mandela racial tolerance, not the other way round.

Neil Agget and David Webster were brutally killed by the apartheid white police force just like Steve Biko and Matthew Goniwe were, but the aspiration of these four fallen South African heroes has not yet been achieved in South Africa.

There is very little cause for celebration in as far as achieving non-racialism is concerned for as long as South Africa's land remains undistributed, and for as long as the means of production is still predominantly white controlled. We cannot immortalize the legacy of a non-racial Mandela and put up with the status quo in South Africa without making huge fools of ourselves.

We cannot as Africans celebrate a Mandela of Western fantasies while we ignore the real Mandela we are burying shortly. We have a duty to rescue the true Mandela legacy, and that duty goes far beyond the borders of South Africa.

One of the Mandela miracles we are supposed to passionately respect is the myth that says had it not been for his miraculous spirit of generosity South Africa would have exploded into an uncontrollable racial war — draconically driving all white people right into the ocean. So we have this mythical miracle-working messianic Mandela that supposedly restrained the barbarous vengeful hordes of unthinking blacks.

This assumption that black South Africans were about to unleash wholesome violence against whites is arrogantly racist, and to use this assumption in elevating Nelson Mandela to iconic status is a gross insult to the people of South Africa. It is unacceptable.
The principle of reconciliation within the ANC cannot be described as a Mandela founded doctrine.

The political culture of the ANC is that it has always been a non-racial movement, and that is precisely why the Soweto massacre was never reciprocated by an equally barbaric targeting of the white civilian population — a path so glaringly tempting at the time.
Like Zanla's Josiah Tongogara, cadres like Chris Hani were unwaveringly opposed to the idea of a racial war, and it is hard to trace Hani's racial tolerance to anything personally done by Nelson Mandela. Both Hani and Mandela were products of the ANC doctrine.

Nelson Mandela was truly an advocate of genuine reconciliation, but even him had reservation on some forms of reconciliation, rightly or wrongly.

In 1989, Nelson Mandela released a statement to the media declaring that the reunification of the two Germans was such a stupendously terrible idea that if released from prison, he would all by himself try to stop it. We can forgive Madiba by blaming it all on prison isolation, and perhaps telling ourselves that he was just a bit out of touch. That is understandable, like it is equally understandable to say the man was not exactly a reconciliation miracle worker of unwavering tendencies.

Nelson Mandela had a triumphant prison release in 1990, but he carried with him no epiphany or magic by which South Africa was supposedly inspired to a reconciliatory non-racial outcome. That thinking isolates Mandela from his own people. It is an insult to the millions of South Africans who sacrificed so much of their lives to free Mandela. This racist myth that says before Mandela came onto the scene there were hordes of angry black South Africans ready to wipe out the white race must be discredited for what it is — a disparaging view of the black South African.

South Africans have always understood what freedom means, and that understanding has nothing to do with revenge, otherwise white economic hegemony wouldn't be standing the way it does in South Africa today. Not even Mandela could stop it if revenge was South Africa's idea of freedom.

There is also the myth that immortalises Nelson Mandela as a pacifist in the mould of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
When apartheid South Africa brutally descended on non-violent protesters following the Gandhi pacifist model Mandela did not advocate for more pacifism.

He said, "The time comes in the life of any nation when there remains 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."

Not only did Nelson Mandela play a leading role in setting up UmkhontoWesizwe, the ANC military wing; he also did military training himself in Algeria. The mythical Mandela indoctrinated into the innocent heads of children across the world today is not a guerrilla fighter, not a comrade of Che Guevara. That vaingloriously saintly Mandela myth has to be corrected.

Nelson Mandela was not an erroneously jailed pacifist that never really believed in any form of confrontation. He was jailed for genuine participation in the leadership of the revolutionary walk that crumbled the evil of apartheid. That indeed is heroic and the true legacy for which we Africans hail him.

According to Tony Karon, an anti-apartheid South African Jewish activist, Nelson Mandela smuggled a message from prison to explain the relationship between the armed struggle and non-violent civil disobedience.

The note read, "between the hammer of armed struggle and the anvil of united mass action, the enemy will be crushed." Such words cannot be attributed to this iconic pacifist Mandela after whom we are supposed to follow.

Tony Karon also writes on what Nelson Mandela said while on trial. He told the court, "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."

Dead Mandela is today, but his ideal is still in the pipeline for ordinary South Africans — perhaps not so much for Zuma and his ruling elites who have secured for themselves treacherous shortcuts to catch up with the wealthy white community in South Africa.

Zuma can now afford a R1 million cattle enclosure while ordinary South Africans lurch in untold poverty, just like ZBC CEO Happison Muchechetere goes four years unnoticed gobbling over US$2 million in outrageous salaries and allowance while the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation workers go for half a year without any salary. It is ironic that the name Muchechetere means equality of all. What irony.

The Mandela legacy we need to rescue today calls for a South Africa and an Africa with equal opportunities for all its denizens, not this South Africa where there is a racially determined unemployment ratio for various racial groups in the country — 1:20 for the white community, and one 1:4 for the black community.

South Africa we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!

REASON WAFAWAROVA is a Zimbabwean political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.


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