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Happy birthday Nelson Mandela

Written By: - Date published: 12:49 pm, July 19th, 2018 - 43 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, democratic participation, International, Politics, us politics - Tags:

It is Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. Happy birthday to him. If he was alive today he would be 100 years old.

He showed uncommon strength in being imprisoned for his belief that the black people of South Africa deserved to be treated equally with their white counterparts. He spent decades in prison but always remained the spiritual leader of the resistance movement. When he was released he then led South Africa through the post apartheid years and maintained peace and a just transition to a fairer and more just society. Sure South Africa is still grappling with the consequences but you do not eliminate the scars caused by apartheid over night.

Interestingly US intelligence papers were recently released. Short version the United States Government thought he was a communist and a terrorist until late in his life.

From Ed Stoddard:

Thousands of pages of U.S. intelligence documents on Nelson Mandela were made public on Wednesday, revealing that Washington continued to monitor the South African anti-apartheid hero as a potential Communist menace even after he was released from prison, a group that sued to obtain the papers said.

The Washington-based group Property of the People released the papers to mark the 100th anniversary of Mandela’s birth. It said it obtained them after years of litigation.

“The documents reveal that, just as it did in the 1950s and 60s with Martin Luther King Jr and the civil rights movement, the FBI aggressively investigated the U.S. and South African anti-apartheid movements as Communist plots imperiling American security,” the group’s president Ryan Shapiro said in a statement.

“Worse still, the documents demonstrate the FBI continued its wrong-headed Communist menace investigations of Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement even after U.S. imposition of trade sanctions against apartheid South Africa, after Mandela’s globally-celebrated release from prison, and after the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

South Africa’s first black president, who died in 2013 and remains a global icon for his struggle against apartheid and message of reconciliation after 27 years in prison, was regarded with suspicion by Washington during the Cold War and remained on the U.S. terrorism watchlist until 2008.

When will America learn that standing up for your fellow people and insisting on the observance of human rights does not make you a communist.

43 comments on “Happy birthday Nelson Mandela ”

  1. millsy 1

    Too bad he embraced privatisation, austerity and user pays when he became president. Under him, apartheid transformed from being a racial problem, to being a economic problem.

    In my opinion, this will always tarnish his memory.

  2. Gosman 2

    He wasn’t imprisoned for his belief that the black people of South Africa deserved to be treated equally with their white counterparts. Lots of people in Apartheid South Africa believed that and weren’t put in prison (although they may have been harassed by the authorities) . He was convicted of the crime of carrying out acts of sabotage which included attempting to blow up infrastructure.

    • Robert Guyton 2.1

      Gosman: you’ve been championing freedom of speech day after day here on TS so I wonder if you can tell me if you were as vehement about freedom of speech when Nicky Hagar published The Hollow Men and Dirty Politics? Did you support his right to speak out on those issues?

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        I see no freedom of speech issue with Nicky Hagar’s activity. He was allowed to publish his books.

    • Heather Grimwood 2.2

      to Gosman at 2 : I see that you didn’t read widely or contact folk who could have helped your knowledge of those times. Many books written from firsthand experience of the time will still be around. Good hunting.

  3. David Mac 3

    Quietly spoken wisdom and sizzling charisma, rare combo.

  4. Gosman 4

    “When will America learn that standing up for your fellow people and insisting on the observance of human rights does not make you a communist.”

    Except he included known Communists in his Government and was sympathetic to Communist dictators such as Fidel Castro.

    I think the FBI was well within their rights to regard Mandela as a potential Communist sympathiser. Simply because he fought for a noble cause of a non-racial society does not mean he couldn’t be a Communist sympathiser. You just need to look at the countries close to South Africa to see that.

    • millsy 4.1

      Those communists who left the mines in the hand of the white owners? Or who privatised water reticulation? Or built toll roads to Jo’burg? Those evil Marxists who left thousands of people to rot in slums? Or who massacared striking trade unionists?

      • Gosman 4.1.1

        There was a reason they left the mines in the hands of the previous owners. Do you know what that reason was?

    • marty mars 4.2

      ‘does not make you a communist’ not, as you put it a ‘potential communist sympathiser’.

      It was a nobel cause getting the racist society overturned – so much sacrifice to achieve that.

      • corodale 4.2.1

        It was naive, Marty. Good intentions maybe, but surely Nelson was disappointed with the result. ANC has certainly not improved things for the common man. And now the country is trapped in a one party system.

        It may well be correct to blame the British empirialism for some problems. But the British and Afrikans did plunder resources with realitive dignity. Fact is, the common man in SA lacked the eduction for democracy, and corruption has become king. Seems power was handed to the blacks too early, without a strategic transition phase. Can you imagine NZ fuctioning with 50% of voters unemployed? The violance, witchcraft, and other problems in isolated communities simply weren’t compatable with a modern democratic nation at the international level.

        Wishing the people of SA well, regardless of their race and background, but it’s a wild world out there.

        I read Nelson’s book while I was in SA, and he seems to have ment well. But we’re all puppets on some level. A communist puppet to be exploited by the global capitalists, all business as usual? I can see how that perspective holds.

        • corodale

          Despite the grim statistics, there is a special energy in SA, and amazing things behind the scenes. Ubuntu is one political example, of building a community structure without money, based on giving. The black cultures have plenty of value, but putting stuff like this into action at the national level, well, surprise if it happens overnight.


          • corodale

            This video explains the core of Ubuntu Contribution System, it’s beautifully wise.

            • Gosman

              Fantasyland stuff. Why hasn’t this happened then given it is presented as so easy to do.

              • corodale

                Why? Given that it is Fantasyland… me not follow

                • Gosman

                  The idea that a community can create a surplus of what they need and that free Labour will be the catalyst is fantasyland stuff. But I see no reason people can’t give it a go now and prove me wrong. Where is this happening?

        • marty mars

          I don’t agree with you. The white racists plundered resources and kept their foot on the throat of those people of colour. And when they finally move because their odious and foul attitudes were too much and the oppressed resisted, the oppressors then moan that the oppressed struggle in some areas – ‘shows they weren’t up to it old chap’. Crocodile tears.

          • Gosman

            You know little about South African history it seems.

            • corodale

              The beauty and spender of the South Africa shines bright. Perhaps it is the hardness of the history that provides the power and wisdom to put the whole continent forward on a path of peace and prosperity,

            • marty mars

              your ‘seems’ is just that gassy – a puff of odour.

          • corodale

            Well Marty, I did make similar assumptions, before I visited townships and did a few weeks help at an orphanage, etc.
            The aid workers (Flemish) had no interest in changing the corruption of the big black Mama who managed the orpanage… her gang had the aid workers robbed at gun point anyway.
            Other aid workers, at a township school which I visited, where literally waiting for the teachers to get old and die, the education standard was tradgic.
            I enjoyed a visit to the region where Nelson came from, nice folk, more peaceful. There was a celebration of a white lady (I think the first in these parts) who completed her training as a witch, witch-craft being the local religion.
            It was obvious to the white rulers that an inclusive democracy for all of SA would have no chance.
            20years later, yeah, statistics show clearly, the one-party-state, run by the violent ANC, is no success story. The black/coloured friends (of normal good education level like you and me) of my aidworker friends did not vote for ANC.
            People I meet in Capetown talked of apartheid years, saying (on many levels) there was not apartheid, blacks and whites would go dancing in the clubs together.
            It was really a seperation between people of different education levels, and with half the population basically unemployable in a modern economy, it was going to take a generation change before an inclusive democracy would have any change against the global capitalist powers.
            SA had high tech military, and turning this over to the rule of corrupt terrorists was a dangerous idea. The whites where not wrong to hold on to power for as long as they could.
            Things today are not better for the black man of SA.

            • marty mars

              Your anecdotes are yours but I am not convinced by them – I keep my own counsel (including sources of information on that region) and I’m happy with my understanding and knowledge.

          • corodale

            What youre saying is half right Marty, but better to understand it from mulitipule prespectives. I don’t know the history well, but it sounds like the British pillaged the Afrikans in a brutal fashion in the Boer war, with sickening concentration camps for the women and children, running away with the gold and all that, standard empire stuff. To talk of the hard change that hit the black and colored folk of the time, I would only be guessing. Those graves where most likey unmarked.

    • Anne 4.3

      And you dear man are a typical example of the mind-numbing stupidity of the American establishment during the Cold War years – and indeed in many instances beyond.

      If we could put Donald Trump and all the ‘Gosmans’ on a large island somewhere and remove all means of escape the whole world would be a far better place. Don’t waste time on them folks – not worth it. 👿

    • Heather Grimwood 4.4

      to Gosman at 4: Mmmm…….I suppose you know that many New Zealanders also were labelled as communist in those times too, for supporting the anti-apartheid cause or slavery cause whichever way it’s looked upon. Hilarious but serious. The labellers presumably didn’t understand compassion for the oppressed /being one’s sibling’s keeper and resorted to use of ‘ communist ‘.

      • Gosman 4.4.1

        Ummm… The SACP is in alliance with the ANC.

        • Heather Grimwood

          to Gosman at 4.4.1 : Did you study or know even by correspondence early members of the ANC or their courageous supporters? Think by the above that perhaps not, but their writings and bios remain to access.

    • Tricledrown 4.5

      Gosman given the capitalists kept black people in slavery even though they were the majority it’s any wonder they embraced communism ffs you are one
      Poorly researched.
      Funnily now it’s the future and South Africa is a free market Brics country.
      Vietnam is a free market country to.
      Over throws of repressive regimes are good for economies.

      • Gosman 4.5.1

        Capitalism didn’t keep blacks in Slavery. In fact it was one of the reasons for Apartheid’s fall.

  5. corodale 5

    Spitting Image – I’ve Never Met A Nice South African
    SA humour from the 80’s

  6. Ad 6

    We haven’t seen the likes of Nelson Mandela for a while.

    For people who can stand that length of book, I’d recommend A Long Walk To Freedom.

    A total treasure.

    • Anne 6.1

      We haven’t seen the likes of Nelson Mandela for a while.

      We probably won’t in our life time. The last one to come along was probably Jesus of Nazareth. Set aside the religious connotations attached to his name… he was a pacifist, a socialist – or some might prefer a social democrat – and a wonderful orator who was idolised by “the multitudes” for his progressive teachings and his great courage.

      I saw Mandela in his car being driven down Queen St. after an Apec meeting in the 1990s. You knew which car was his because he had twice as much police protection as anyone else. He was sitting by himself in the middle of the back seat and you could not help but be awed by the man’s overall demeanour even in as brief an encounter as that.

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