Why Nelson Mandela?

By George Alleyne
Wednesday, July 2 2008

ANCThe news that the United States still officially included former South African President Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) on its terror watch list and that the US Senate only moved last week to correct this absurdity has come as a shock and eye opener to many.

Last week’s approval by the Senate of a Bill to have Mandela’s name removed from the terror watch list provokes the question as to why his name, placed there following on the introduction of the enabling legislation in the 1980s, had been put there in the first place.

And why, years after Mandela had publicly announced and demonstrated, following on the ANC’s accessing power and had effected a policy of reconciliation and forgiveness toward those who had brutalised indigenous South Africans, and years after he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, he should have been regarded, along with the ANC which he had led, as a tacit threat to the United States and its interests? Senator John Kerry placed the issue in its proper context when he declared on Friday, June 27: “Today, the United States moved closer, at last, to removing the great shame of dishonouring this great leader by including him on our Government’s terror watch list.” US President, George W Bush, should be signing the Bill shortly.

There has been no evidence produced that Mandela who was in prison in then apartheid South Africa when the Bill was passed had planned any activity, guerrilla or otherwise, which would have posed a threat to either the United States or its economic interests in South Africa. Indeed, for a not insubstantial part of his languishng in prison, for purely political reasons, Mandela had been in solitary confinement.

“Nelson Mandela does not belong on a terrorist watch list, period”, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse would declare in a statement which had the force of truth and reality. It is to the credit of US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, that in April she had entreated a US Senate Committee, as a news report published in Newsday on Sunday pointed out, to remove the restrictions on the African National Congress which Mandela had headed. The news report would add that a similar Bill (to right the wrong) had also been passed in the US House of Representatives.

A California Democrat, who co-sponsored the House of Representatives Bill, declared in May as being “especially pleased that we are taking this important step to finally right this inexcusable wrong”. Mandela and the ANC should never have been placed on the US terror watch list. Instead, the former rulers of apartheid South Africa, who had, unjustly, imprisoned Mandela and outlawed the ANC should have been with their detestable policy of racial segregration and brutal suppression of the indigenous South African people, the focus of US Senate and US House of Representatives attention. But US financial interests had made large investments in South Africa and any perceived threat to those interests was, in turn, perceived as a threat to the overall interests of the United States. It was a brutally cynical approach.

But Mandela was a realist who understood clearly, after indigenous South Africans were liberated, that had his African National Congress Government moved to fully assert itself as, for example, the Jews had done in 1949, et sequitur, in the new State of Israel that there would have been a more than equal and opposite Western world reaction. The ANC Government allowed the financiers to maintain the status quo and the mining and exports of gold, diamonds and coal by the owners of companies exploiting these resources continued uninterrupted, untouched, unhindered.

The principal importers today of South Africa’s goods and services are the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Japan. Today’s South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product [GDP] of US$160 billion is relatively modest, what with a population in excess of 45 million. Its unemployment rate is in the region of 30 percent of its labour force. For the record its GDP per head is some US$10,130, a mite below that of Trinidad and Tobago’s. In turn, it is slightly more than half that of Israel’s and approximately a third that of the United Kingdom’s as well as the Netherlands and almost five times that of Zimbabwe’s. I do not propose to offer a reason as to why a liberated Union of South Africa chose the course of reconciliation and maintaining the shareholding status quo. I leave that to my readers.


4 Responses to “Why Nelson Mandela?”

  • Kerry Mulchansingh

    The US had an entrenched policy of separateness until the late sixties/early seventies. Their outlook strongly paralled South Africa’s Apartheid in many ways, so why are we surprised at all that Nelson Mandela and the ANC were regarded as terrorists by the US government, and branded as such?

    If it wasn’t for the prolific Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., and the sacrifice and drive of people like MLK, Medgar Evers et al,this segregation could have have been imposed much longer by the whites there.

    Nelson’s terrorist status just remained on the books from this time and happened to become lost in history. It should be a huge embarassment to the US that such a great, peaceful man should have been villified at all.

    Who really is the greatest aggressor nation today? I fine that they should put both George Bushes on the list.

  • The irony of this piece is,that while Mandela continued on the “terror watch list”he not only spearheaded the Truth and Reconcilition hearings, where it was revealed that the “Doctor of Death” had recieved antrax from the US to use against Black South Africans in candy, beer, cigarettes and porno magazines.
    Mandela is the only world leader who voluntarily decommissioned its nuclear warheads, inviting the IAEC to come in and get rid of these things. All of South Africa’s aparthied era weapons were pointed to Black Africa.But no white country fussed about their having them, they way they now fuss about N. Korea and Iran.

    Now during this period, the white Vice-President of the Mandela government was free to visit the US, and hold business talks with the Greater Houston PArtnerhip. (I was there and took photographs) but Mandela had to get permission each time, to visit this country.
    Now,this is the same US that calls for sanctions against Zimbabwe, to get Mugabeto change his policy to the opposition, and whose partner, Germany is now holding the posssibility of Zimbabwe printing more currency, hostage.

    With Friends like these, does Africa need enemies?We diaspora Africans urgently need to educate ourselves bout the truth.

  • nelson mandela interview

    Dick Cheney was notoriously a foe of Mandela, causing the former to call him a dinosaur. Hilarious!

  • We tend to glorify and give the likes of Mandela way too much credit. There is no way that White racist South Africans and close collaborators USA, and Israel were going to leave dangerous nuclear weapon technologies in the hands of a bunch of child like nut case black leaders.
    Apartheid ended not because Mandela had a crush for whites and them for him. He was ailing after long imprisonment, and they did not want him to die on their hands and become a useful martyr. Mandela and his bunch recognize that the Cold War was about to end and business as usual was finished as far as military and economic support from socialist USSR. Are we not disgusted that Castro was not as intelligent?
    I wished however that Mandela had the guts to stand up to his foolish misguided successor Mbeki that fail to address the country’s Aids crisis with the seriousness it deserved opting instead to blame white Europeans .
    Is it a coincidence that his country was very famous for having the highest Aids rate on the continent while illiterate adult South African African males were raping baby virgins under the misguided notion that it would cure their Aids malady? With clowns like these as leaders, who need foreign enemies?
    “We diaspora Africans urgently need to educate ourselves bout the truth.” Contrary to what Ms. L thinks, it is Africans that needs to educate themselves and do everything in their collective power to eradicate stupid old freedom fighters that have since assumed the mantle of political buffoons, military puppets, and greedy tyrants. How desperate it is that it has to take second rate musicians like Buno and Madonna, disingenuous, immoral political figures like Bill Clinton, and the likes of two bit white actors and actresses like George Clooney, and Angela Jolie to try and save the continent form further social , and economic decay.
    It is simply not white America’s fault, neither any of the slave byproducts and jokes for Secretary of State-Colin Powell and our Stanford Auntie Condi Rice fault that Mandela remained on the political black list for such a long time. Africans abroad needs to do more than look narrowly at what many seem satisfied to accept as the American dream. Purchasing a large house in the suburbs, selling your soul to send one of your fifty children to Harvard, Yale,and Oxford can be fine, as well as attempting to be the next Eddie Murphy character from ‘Coming to America.’ However Africans need to do more than that if the continent is to get the respect it deserves like Asia, Europe,or segments of the Middle East.
    Can someone remind them of the need to get engage socially and politically while living abroad – particularly in the USA? Leave that foolish tribal fragmentation mindset at JFK, La Guardia, and Heathrow. Show some empathy for others that look like you or not in their struggles, and they too would do the same towards you, and not necessarily from apposition of pity, as they now do. Let’s hope that the many from the continent that are expecting miracles from cousin Obama the semi Luo, aren’t in for a surprise come 20012 or 16 when his term ends , and they are not even accorded a visit, or the Sudan and Congo wars rages on.

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