Friday, July 18, 2008

Nelson Mandela celebrates 90th birthday

He is heralded as one of the greatest men of our time and the world rejoices in his achievements and celebrates his 90th birthday today.

But look at these photos of the younger Mandela - full of righteous anger and a thirst for justice and equality. I believe there is a hidden truth.

It's all there - in black and white.

Look into those fiery eyes.

The man they imprisoned for opposing apartheid was capable of achieving so much more for his country and for Africa as a whole.

Rarely do such forces of nature come along. And even though we may imprison or murder them, the world usually becomes a monumentally better place because of them.

So what happened in the case of Nelson Mandela?

I acknowledge it is tantamount to blasphemy to say anything negative about him, but I believe it is time to voice the opinion that he could have done so much more than he did.

Apartheid was outlawed.

But, of course, blacks are still poor and disadvantaged in their own country while whites prosper and continue to arm themselves to the teeth for fear of attack and barricade themselves into their fortified mansions to prevent the 'natives' from storming the place - unless they are wearing the uniform of a maid or a gardener, of course.

Nevertheless, South Africa has come a long way since that famous day when Nelson Mandela was set free.
And Mandela received the Nobel prize and became President of the new South Africa.

But my point is that he was a revolutionary - a voice crying out in the wilderness - and not a political leader.

His track record is, for many commentators, disappointing to say the least.

For a long time, his wife appeared to be his main advisor. It has been claimed he wasn't up to the role history offered him and ended up relying on third rate advice rather than his own political vision which was, in the event, sadly lacking.

The evidence is there, plain to see:

The poorest become poorer despite the great riches and natural resources of their country.

Not enough was done around AIDS [scant care for the ill and poor prevention strategy which tended to shy away from promoting the use of condoms].

Mugabe didn't turn into a fascist dictator overnight. Mandela ignored his despotic decline into mania.

Those other African leaders personally responsible for mass genocide and preventable famines were and are continually allowed to go unchallenged by their African neighbours and the world at large.

It seems, by the time he was eventually released, Nelson Mandela had only one agenda and not much energy or insight to achieve anything else.
Maybe he just wanted to call for an end to apartheid and never actually intended to lead his nation through the difficult times that followed.

Could it be that Nelson Mandela was a reluctant hero?
Was he a one-issue activist, miraculously made president?

The beatification of Mandela by the pop music industry and other black luminaries on the world stage is not camouflage enough.
The truth remains clear ...

Apartheid de facto still remains.

Black Africa, including South Africa, is still only emerging as a true democratic environment.
It is still very early days indeed.
Rwanda, Darfur, child soldiers, famine, blood diamonds, Mugabe, and AIDS all combine to give a more realistic picture of Africa and the sad, cruel, misguided mess it has been allowed to become.

Of course, we can't blame Nelson Mandela for all that.
Centuries of European occupation and exploitation have sown many disastrous seeds in Africa.
But, during his time in power, Mandela could have changed so much more, contributed so much more, and perhaps catapulted all of Africa into a brighter future.

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