Wow, after Nelson Mandela died we saw a lot of different reactions hey? Most people were sad, some refuses to mourn him, and some people was quite happy. That is fine, and everyone allowed to have their own opinion. As someone who live through the 70s and 80s I understand why these people feel this way, but what I want to say to them is they must be 100% sure beyond a doubt that they base their opinion on a good rationalisation.
Maybe you are someone who is happy that Mandela is dead? That is fine, but then you must base it on good thinking and facts, and not emosies. If you are this person then maybe you are open-minded to at least read what I say, because you can still disagree with me after you read it, I don’t mind. We are adults.
I will first tell you something interesting about yourself: You, as someone who is happy that Mandela is dead, is someone who have a strong opinion. And you are someone who is not scared to speak up. You know you are this type of person. So then my question to you firstly is, what would you have done if you were a angry black person in 1950? Because we will find out exactly what Mandela did.
Even after police shoot dead 19 people at a protest in Johannesburg in 1950 Mandela plead for non-violence, and he plead it for another 10 years after that. This is facts. You see the ANC first follow the same road what people all over the world follow when they want to change things. First they try to talk. When talking don’t work then you try like Ghandi with a non-cooperation and a non-violent means. Then marches, protests, strikes, stayaways. And guys, the ANC try to start a dialogue with government since 1912! That’s how long they push for rights and for a non-racial country. But you know, a boer is a stubborn thing, so in 1948 those NP guys just shut the door and say NO. Apartheid is here. A black is legally inferior. We will crush you if you don’t like it.
Dis net daar waar die k*k begin.
Because if we jump to 1960, police kill 69 protesters including schoolkids at Sharpeville. Straightaway after that Mandela say ok that’s enough, let’s form a armed resistance. We will be stupid (anyone will be stupid…) to just sit back after none of our other options work and we are met with violence. So they formed Umkonto we Sizwe to do sabotage against the state. Now THIS is where lots of guys say Mandela was a terrorist. But we must step carefully and look at the facts. Facts is our friend, and facts will make our opinions better (even if we hate to have a challenge to our opinion).
So the first fact is that they say, “We will not attack civilian targets we will attack structures of state”. It become a tit for a tat. You shoot people at a rally — then we will blow up a bridge. You kill some protesters — we will then bomb a police station or a oil refinery. We will carry out sabotage.
And the second fact is that in 1962 Mandela was arrested and that is the end of his story with that struggle. Unless you think he was sending SMS’s from Robben Island. I think you are a adult and you will understand that the world did not hear from him again until he is released in 1990. To say that he was a active leader of the ANC or MK after that is stupid and factual incorrect.
And now we get to the heart of the matter…
Because over the years, things became very k*k for everyone — black and white. There was continuing bad atrocities by the government, and then we start to see really bad bombings by MK too, who rise up again in a different form. One of the first bad attacks was the terrible Church street bomb in 1983 that killed 19 people at the Airforce headquarters in Pretoria. That was the first big one I remember. It was terrible.
But now we must make a important distinction.
First, it is not Mandela who order these attacks (he is on holiday since 1964 in his nice 5sq meter concrete cell on Robben Island). Yes Mandela was responsible for birth of MK, and yes while in prison he give his blessing for continue sabotage, but there are some tricky people who make a leap to say “Mandela told MK to kill civilians.” It sound like a silly point to make, but this clever word play enable people to paint Mandela in another light. And it is very interesting to me when people do this. It is a lie, and it is told out of context.
Secondly, we must ask whether it was legitimate or illegitimate for MK to start to carry this attacks. This is very difficult. In MK’s minds they was in a war - government kill our civilians, so we will kill their civilians. Can we say that no matter how badly someone else treat you you can never attack civilians? Maybe we can. It is a very dramatic thing to choose, and a moral difficult thing to justify. But that is not for me to say. And maybe you as the angry young guy with fire in his heart will have planted a bomb in 1960 already, never mind in 1983. I don’t know.
I think it is fair for you to be angry at MK for carrying these civilian attacks. But then as long as you recognise that it were as a result of the circumstance what the government create. That is the bargain I will make with you. You can call them terrorists if you want to, but then you have to also concede that they did not come out of nowhere. MK was a RESPONSE. And it was first create to fight the state after all other options long exhausted. The government was equally responsible for that Church Square bomb. The blood was on their hands too. No debate about that.
So this leave us in a interesting place.
If you concede that S.A. is for all people, then you must concede that Mandela was moral correct to resist the government. He was a guy who try to represent his people who were not having a nice time. He first try to do it as a lawyer, then he try to do it as a politician, then as a negotiator, then in a same way as Ghandi with peaceful resistance and then finally as a guerrilla. But we know, factually, that he did not order attacks on civilians.
1) The government (who look for anything they can use against him) never at any time charged Mandela with this charge. You can go and search for these charges.
2) There is no record within the ANC or MK of Mandela ordering it.
3) We know that after MK was first crushed it came back later with a different agenda, and that Mandela was not out there leading it. But maybe you disagree? Maybe you have secret documents that nobody have ever seen that tell us a different story?
Ok it’s almost the end, I promise☺
So maybe you will concede that Mandela was not a terrorist per se, but you still think he was a bad man. That is fine, but I’m interested to hear what you base it on (just please don’t tell me you base it on a angry emotion or what your parents tell you!).
Because for me, for a long time I thought Mandela and the ANC was scary people who want to kill whites. That is the story we were told. And we swallowed the hook and the line and the sinker. Then slowly we understood that the only thing he wanted, long time back in the 1950s already, was to have equality for all South Africans. Maybe this make you uncomfortable because you have been told something different.
But you know what will make you really uncomfortable is this quote you are going to read now. It is from a MK manifesto in 1961. Do you have the courage to read it? You must be careful, because it might challenge you…
“We are fighting for a South Africa in which there will be peace and harmony and equal rights for all people. We are not racialists, as the white oppressors are. The African National Congress has a message of freedom for all who live in our country.”
Word for word. That is in 1961.
If you consider yourself a moral correct person, and maybe even a religious correct person, and if you agree that we are all allowed to live in South Africa with the same rights, then maybe you will see that at one time MK and Nelson Mandela actually represent you as well.
Some older people will refuse to change their mind because they lived through the fear from that time. I remember it well. There were bombs, and landmines on the farm roads, and attacks. It was not nice. But that cannot cloud our judgement. We must take a step back and ask why we got to that situation.
And what you would have done, if you were a young man who care about your country?