Nelson Mandela 1918-2013, fighter for equality and peace


This is a music video of the song “Nelson Mandela” from the album “In the Studio” by British band Special AKA (the Specials).

Lyrics are here.

Today, the sad news that Nelson Mandela, the first ever democratically elected president of South Africa, and so much more, has died.

Billions of people all over the world will gratefully remember him for his role in ending the inhuman Apartheid system.

Here is what his political party, the African National Congress, says:

A nation mourns

The passing of Cde Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

5 December 2013

Comrades and friends,
The Mandela family,
Fellow South Africans,

“In the life of every nation, there arise men who leave an indelible and eternal stamp on the history of their peoples; men who are both products and makers of history. And when they pass they leave a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it.”

With deep sorrow and a profound sense of loss, the African National Congress received the sad news of the passing of our Isithwalandwe and former President, Comrade Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Our nation has lost a colossus, an epitome of humility, equality, justice, peace and the hope of millions; here and abroad.

Madiba loved South Africa. We recall the strength of his fist punching the air as he stepped out of prison after 27 years; and his sternness during the negotiations for the freedom of our beloved country. We celebrate his ever-present smile, the cheerful Madiba jive, his love for children and great respect for the women of this country.

The large African Baobab, who loved Africa as much as he loved South Africa, has fallen. Its trunk and seeds will nourish the earth for decades to come.

Nelson Mandela, Isithwalandwe – Seaparankwe, born in the village of Qunu in the erstwhile Bantustan of the Transkei, recognised the burden of colonial and racial oppression and exploitation. He then joined the African National Congress in 1942. He was convinced by the belief his wise tutor, Walter Sisulu, had in the ANC as the means to effect change in South Africa. As he said,

“Sometimes one can judge an organization by the people who belong to it, and I knew that I would be proud to belong to any organization of which Walter was a member”.

He loved the ANC. Hence his frequent words that upon his death he would join “the nearest branch of the ANC in heaven”.

In his lifetime of struggle through the African National Congress, he assumed and was assigned various leadership positions. He served with distinction. He was part of the ANC leadership collective and did not make decisions without first reflecting with his comrades. Yet he would fight for the principle of what was the right thing to do.

Madiba was also a member of the South African Communist Party, where he served in the Central Committee.

His was a choice to not only be a product but the maker of his and his people´s history.

Soon after prison he took the mantle of the President of the ANC and, ultimately the country – becoming the first President of a democratic South Africa. He worked tirelessly for the ANC and a free South Africa. He hated racism and bigotry; sought a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society where all are equal. As he said while in prison,

“Ours is not to ask for equality on a lower scale;
Ours is to fight to win on an equal but higher level”.

He passed the baton to the younger generation of his beloved movement, the ANC, to carry on with the vision of bringing about an equal and just society. The ANC continues in this task as set forth by him and those of his generation, living and deceased. Indeed, men and women such as Nelson Mandela,

“… when they pass they leave a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it.

His life gives us the courage to push forward for development and progress towards ending hunger and poverty. As we said of him while still alive, and we say so now,

“We have you, Madiba, as our nearest and brightest star to guide us on our way. We will not get lost.”

To the entire family of Mandela, we extend our heartfelt condolences. He was as much yours as he was ours, probably his dedication to the ANC family robbed you of a father. We will, from this minute on, as always, walk this journey with you to the end.

To his friends, in the ANC and across the globe and across all divide, be comforted.

To the people of South Africa, may your hearts be not in distress. He lives in each and every one of you and in your homes, because he gave of himself to all of us.

Let us celebrate the gift of his life from this moment on.

Let us honour his memory in a dignified way as his leadership and stature deserves.

Let us participate in all the activities organised in his honour in a disciplined and respectful manner, until he is laid to rest.

Rest in peace, Comrade President,
Isithwalandwe-Seaparankwe,
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Amandla ngawethu
Matla ke a rona
All power to the people

Secretary General´s Office

This ANC obituary mentions not only Mandela’s position for equality, about which so many people know; but also his stance for peace, maybe a bit less known.

After the Apartheid system had collapsed, Nelson Mandela condemned neo-colonial wars. He condemned the NATO 1999 war against Yugoslavia. A year later, he said:

Nelson Mandela – chaos in place of international law

Commenting on the bombing of Iraq and Yugoslavia by Britain and America, Nelson Mandela, speaking in the UK on 4 April 2000 said, “The message they are sending is that any country which fears a veto (from the UN) can take unilateral action. That means they’re introducing chaos into international affairs: that any country can take any decision which it wants.”

Nelson Mandela condemned George W Bush’s and Tony Blair‘s war in Iraq of 2003 and later.

From CBS News in the USA:

January 30, 2003, 1: 34 PM

Mandela Slams Bush On Iraq

A prominent new voice joined the international chorus of protest against U.S. preparations for war against Iraq on Thursday.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela delivered a fiery speech denouncing the United States and aiming harsh personal criticism at President Bush.

Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the world’s most respected elder statesmen, let the Bush administration have it right between the eyes, reports CBS News Correspondent Tom Fenton.

“It is a tragedy, what is happening, what Bush is doing. But Bush is now undermining the United Nations,” Mandela told the International Women’s Forum.

Mandela said he would support action against Iraq only if it is ordered by the U.N. He urged the people of the United States to join massive protests against Mr. Bush and called on world leaders, especially those with vetoes in the U.N. Security Council, to oppose him.

“What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.”

And that wasn’t all. He attacked America for its record on human rights and for dropping atomic bombs on Japan [in] World War II.

“If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care.”

That brought an unusually subdued reaction from the White House.

“Nelson Mandela was a great leader. He remains a great man,” said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. “But on this the president and Nelson Mandela do not see eye to eye.”

While Mandela has repeatedly condemned U.S. behavior toward Iraq in recent months, his comments Thursday were far more critical and his attack on Mr. Bush far more personal than in the past.

“Why is the United States behaving so arrogantly?” he asked. “All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil,” he said.

He accused Mr. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair of undermining the United Nations and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is from Ghana.

“Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man? They never did that when secretary-generals were white,” he said.

He said Mr. Bush was “trying to bring about carnage” and appealed to the American people to vote him out of office and demonstrate against his policies.

He also condemned Blair for his strong support of the United States.

“He is the foreign minister of the United States. He is no longer prime minister of Britain,” he said. That echoes a theme adopted by war opponents in Britain. Blair is to meet Mr. Bush for talks on Friday. …

Last July, the president [Bush] awarded Mandela the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — dubbing him “perhaps the most revered statesman of our time.”

Washington’s Blog in the USA notes:

The U.S. government considered Mandela a terrorist until 2008, when he was a 90-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner.

So, in the massive mourning for Nelson Mandela’s death today, most of the billions of voices are sincere. But not all. The voices of George W Bush, and of the other people in the United States political establishment who put and kept Mandela on their governmental list of “terrorists” for decades, are not.

Neither are British Conservative politicians who used to sport the slogan “Hang Nelson Mandela”, implying that even the Apartheid regime in South Africa was not cruel enough yet. The tears of mourning for Mandela today by acolytes of Margaret Thatcher who did so much to keep the dying Apartheid system alive for a few more bloody years, look like crocodile tears.

Let us conclude with the words of the ANC again:

He lives in each and every one of you and in your homes, because he gave of himself to all of us.

Let us celebrate the gift of his life from this moment on.

Let us honour his memory in a dignified way as his leadership and stature deserves.

Let us participate in all the activities organised in his honour in a disciplined and respectful manner, until he is laid to rest.

Rest in peace, Comrade President,
Isithwalandwe-Seaparankwe,
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Amandla ngawethu
Matla ke a rona
All power to the people

19 thoughts on “Nelson Mandela 1918-2013, fighter for equality and peace

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