South African Mandela’s comrade Ahmed Kathrada, RIP


This video from the commemoration in South Africa after the death of Nelson Mandela says about itself:

Mandela‘s fellow inmate gives emotional speech

15 December 2013

Fighting back tears, Ahmed Kathrada, who was jailed with Mandela on the Robben Island and is a family friend, said the last time he saw Mandela was when the anti-apartheid hero was fighting for his life in hospital. Kathrada said he met Mandela 67 years ago, and was saddened to see that he had become a “shadow of his former self”, but spoke highly of his campaign against racial segregation.

Today, veteran anti-apartheid fighter Ahmed Kathrada himself has died. See also here.

This video from South Africa says about itself:

Zenani Mandela pays tribute to Ahmed Kathrada

28 March 2017

‘CIA helped apartheid regime arrest Nelson Mandela’, ex-CIA man admits


This video from the USA says about itself:

“One of Our Greatest Coups”: The CIA & the Capture of Nelson Mandela

13 December 2013

As South Africa prepares to hold a state funeral for Nelson Mandela, we look at how the CIA helped the South African track down and capture Nelson Mandela in 1962. In 1990, the Cox News Service quoted a former U.S. official saying that within hours after Mandela‘s arrest a senior CIA operative named Paul Eckel admitted the agency’s involvement.

Eckel was reported as having told the official, “We have turned Mandela over to the South African security branch. We gave them every detail, what he would be wearing, the time of day, just where he would be. They have picked him up. It is one of our greatest coups.”

Several news outlets have reported the actual source of the tip that led to the arrest of Mandela was a CIA official named Donald Rickard. On Thursday, Democracy Now! attempted to reach Rickard at his home in Colorado. On two occasions, a man who picked up the phone hung up when we asked to speak with Donald Rickard.

The activist group RootsAction has launched a campaign to urge the CIA to open its files on Mandela and South Africa and the media watchdog group Fairness in Accuracy in Reporting has questioned why corporate media outlets have largely ignored the story. We speak to journalist Andrew Cockburn who first reported on the CIA link to Mandela’s arrest in 1986 in the New York Times.

From Slate.com in the USA:

Former U.S. Spy Says CIA Played Key Role in Nelson Mandela’s Arrest

By Daniel Politi

May 15 2016 11:51 AM

A former CIA spy said he played a key role in getting Nelson Mandela arrested in 1962, which led to a 27-year imprisonment. Donald Rickard, who was working as the U.S. vice consul in Durban at the time, said he was the one who provided the tip about Mandela’s whereabouts on that fateful day, according to the Sunday Times.

So, Rupert Murdoch‘s far Right Sunday Times (for readers who only believe right-wing media).

Rickard gave the explosive declaration mere weeks before his March 30 death to British film director John Irvin. The former spy had no apparent qualms about what he did because Mandela was “the world’s most dangerous communist outside of the Soviet Union.”

Rickard claims he found out that Mandela would be traveling from Durban to Johannesburg and told police authorities so they could set up a roadblock. When Mandela’s car was stopped, agents immediately recognized the most wanted man in the country and took him into custody. “I found out when he was coming down and how he was coming … that’s where I was involved and that’s where Mandela was caught,” Rickard said. The former agent didn’t reveal how he received the information but said he firmly believed Mandela was “completely under the control of the Soviet Union, a toy of the communists.”

The interview appears to confirm suspicions that the CIA was tracking Mandela, according to the BBC. The report is likely to increase pressure on the U.S. intelligence agency to release documents that could help clarify its role in Mandela’s arrest.

Mandela’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party was quick to react to the news, saying it puts in evidence a pattern of Washington involvement in the country’s politics. “That revelation confirms what we have always known, that they are working against [us], even today,” ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said. “It’s not thumb sucked, it’s not a conspiracy [theory]. It is now confirmed that it did not only start now, there is a pattern in history.”

When the 88-year-old Rickard spoke to Irving two weeks before his death he contradicted statements he had made in the past when he vehemently denied any involvement in Mandela’s arrest. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal wrote about the “mystery” of Mandela’s detention and noted reports “about a junior U.S. diplomat at the Durban consulate who allegedly boasted at a party of steering the police to Mr. Mandela.” Rickard denied everything. “That story has been floating around for a while,” he told the paper over the phone. “It’s untrue. There’s no substance to it.”

Nelson Mandela remembered


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.

By Peter Frost from Britain, about South Africa:

In the footsteps of the great liberator

Thursday 5th February 2015

Peter Frost visits the former Victor Verster prison where Nelson Mandela took some very important steps on his long march to freedom

It was something of a pilgrimage. My wife Ann and I had pitched the rented camper van in which were exploring South Africa on a pretty campsite among the vineyards near Paarl the handsome capital of the Cape Winelands.

An early start the next morning saw us driving along the spectacular valley of the Dwars River. Our destination was the far from romantically named Drakenstein Correctional Centre.

It was a journey we had been hoping to make for many years. The prison is still in use and outside were a cluster of worried-looking families joining the queue to visit incarcerated loved ones.

We were beginning to have doubts about the wisdom of our visit when a young smiling prison officer in a smart brown uniform knocked on our window.

“Hi,” she said with a smile. “Tourists? Are you from England? No doubt you are here to see where our beloved Madiba took his famous steps to freedom. Follow me,” she said.

So there we were just inside the gates of the former Victor Verster Prison where Nelson Mandela spent the last part of his 27 years of imprisonment.

The prison officer told us that the cottage where Mandela spent the last few months of his long sentence is now a South African national heritage site. Just outside the prison gate she showed us the fine statue of the great man himself.

Back in 1964, Nelson Mandela was one of eight men accused of conspiracy and sabotage in the notorious Rivonia trial, named after a suburb of Johannesburg where African National Congress (ANC) leaders had their secret headquarters in a farmhouse.

In an electrifying speech from the dock at the beginning of his defence, Mandela told the court: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live, and to see realised. But my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Passing sentence, apartheid judge Justice de Wet compared the convicted men’s crime to high treason but said that after careful consideration he had decided not to impose “the supreme penalty.” Mandela was sent to prison for life.

Margaret Thatcher and many British Tories thought the judge had been too lenient. They called for Mandela to be hanged. Present House of Commons’s Speaker John Bercow led a Tory student campaign under the slogan “Hang Nelson Mandela.”

Mandela served the first 18 years of his sentence in the notorious maximum-security prison on Robben Island. When they first landed on the island a warder greeted Mandela and his ANC comrades with these words, “This is the island. This is where you will die.”

The prisoners faced a harsh regime in a new cell block specially constructed for political prisoners. Each had a single cell just 7ft square around a concrete courtyard, with a slop bucket. No books or reading materials were allowed, although this rule would eventually be relaxed a little.

Hard labour in the baking hot quarry on the island was hell. The white-hot sun reflecting of the bleached limestone nearly blinded Mandela.

In his prison cell he secretly worked on the first part of what would become his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. ANC comrades helped him hide draft pages from the guards.

In 1982 he was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Tokai, Cape Town.

From there, on December 9 1988, Mandela was moved to the Victor Verster Prison, now renamed the Drakenstein Correctional Centre.

Already the apartheid government, running scared and aware that their time was up, needed to hold negotiations with the man who, despite having spent the last 27 years in prison, was clearly the leader of the South African people.

For those negotiations Mandela lived in a small cottage inside the prison’s farm compound. President FW De Klerk sent high-ranking ministers and civil servants to talk with Mandela.

He was incarcerated there for another 14 months until finally he was taken to meet and talk with De Klerk himself. The two discussed arrangements for Mandela’s release.

Just after 4pm on February 11 1990 the date set by De Klerk, Mandela, then aged 71, walked free. One hand held the hand of his wife Winnie. The other was raised in the clenched fist of an ANC victory salute.

At that moment, as the camera flashes went off to record the moment, Mandela switched from being a symbol of the oppressed to the global symbol of courage and freedom that would define the rest of his life.

After his release Mandela would live for almost another quarter-century. He became president of a new South Africa, his beloved rainbow nation.

It was a long journey from imprisoned freedom fighter branded as a terrorist to one of the world’s greatest ever leaders.

Like so many important journeys this one started with a single step and a short walk through the gates of Victor Verster Prison 25 years ago this weekend.

FW de Klerk’s legacy in question on anniversary of Mandela’s release. South Africa’s last white president has been praised for his role in ending apartheid but questions linger over atrocities committed on his watch: here.

British actor Richard Attenborough helped honour Nelson Mandela


This video is called BBC News – Filmmaker Richard Attenborough dies at 90.

By Will Stone in Britain:

Tuesday 26th August 2014

Tributes pour in for progressive actor who died aged 90

BELOVED actor Richard Attenborough was remembered yesterday for his “determination and courage” in helping to erect the statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square.

The award-winning star, described as a “titan of British cinema” by film academy Bafta and famed for his roles in blockbusters Jurassic Park, Gandhi and The Great Escape, died at lunchtime on Sunday at the age of 90.

But left groups remembered his achievements off the screen too.

Jude Woodward, former culture and creative industries advisor at City Hall under Ken Livingstone, told the Star that few have mentioned Attenborough’s “irascible” nature, which she believed helped make sure the bronze statue of South Africa’s former president and anti-apartheid activist was built.

Mr Attenborough helped set up a fund for the statue with the widow of the late anti-apartheid activist Donald Woods, who originally came up with the idea and received approval from Mandela in 2001.

“He was absolutely determined,” she said, recalling that they had initially battled to get the nine-foot statue put up outside the High Commission of South Africa in Trafalgar Square.

However Westminster Council rejected the planning application on the grounds its location would disrupt events in the area.

After much discussion the council finally agreed to erect the £400,000 sculpture, designed by Ian Walters, in Parliament Square alongside the statues of other iconic figures including Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Disraeli.

This video from London, England is called Nelson Mandela‘s speech at the unveiling of his statue.

Mandela himself attended the unveiling of the sculpture in 2007, six years after it was first approved, and the statue is still the only one of a black person in the square.

Ms Woodward said that it was “a real achievement” and a “right and fitting legacy” to Mandela that the statue was erected in his lifetime.

Describing Mr Attenborough, she added: “If things got in his way he would not brook opposition. He was absolutely determined there would be a tribute to Mandela and that it would be erected while he was living.”

Also paying tribute, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “The death of Richard Attenborough is a sad day for the film world and the Labour movement. He and his work will be remembered.”

BFI chief executive Amanda Nevill added: “the world has lost a very, very special person.”

Nelson Mandela remembered in Scotland


This video is called Nelson Mandela‘s first TV interview in 1961 by ITN reporter Brian Widlake.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Mandela‘s granddaughter thanks Glaswegian supporters

Saturday 19th July 2014

NELSON Mandela’s granddaughter had a simple message for Glaswegians yesterday as Scotland marked the late statesman’s birthday — thank you.

Tukwini Mandela last night led a Mandela Day remembrance ceremony on Glasgow’s Nelson Mandela Place, pointedly renamed in 1988 to the annoyance of South African consulate staff who worked there.

Ms Mandela told reporters that it was a bittersweet anniversary.

But she was grateful to the people of Glasgow: “I know that Glasgow was one of the first cities that awarded my grandfather the keys to the city.

“It galvanised a lot of the European cities to pay attention to what was going on in South Africa,” she said.

The icon of black liberation spent nearly three decades as a political prisoner under South Africa’s white supremacist regime before international solidarity campaigns forced his release.

Glasgow’s decision to grant “the freedom of the city” in 1981 brought vilification in the Establishment press, portraying the gesture as consorting with a terrorist.

But Dundee and Aberdeen soon followed suit and by 1990 the Establishment press was hailing his release as the end of a repressive era.

‘Israel supported Mandela, ANC in 1960s, but stopped doing so in 1970s’: here.

FBI still spied on Mandela after release from prison


This video from South Africa is called Nelson Mandela‘s Life Story.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

FBI monitored Nelson Mandela in 1990s over perceived communist threat

Previously classified documents show federal agents continued to monitor Mandela and ANC even after his release from prison

Ed Pilkington in New York

Thursday 10 July 2014 18.10 BST

The FBI monitored the interactions between Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress and leftwing groups in the US through the 1980s and 1990s as part of its ongoing investigations into what the bureau deemed to be the communist threat to US national security, new documents reveal.

The batch of 36 pages of previously classified documents, extracted from the FBI under freedom of information laws, show that federal agents continued to monitor Mandela’s and the ANC’s connections within the US even after the legendary South African leader was released from prison in February 1990. The bureau monitored meetings between Mandela and other world leaders, tracked the movements of senior ANC officials as they travelled across the US, and kept a close eye on the anti-apartheid activities of the Communist Party USA (CP-USA).

The declassified documents are marked “secret” under recognised codes for domestic and foreign counter-intelligence investigations. They include a record kept by federal agents of a meeting in Namibia just a month after Mandela’s release from jail between him and the then president of Yugoslavia, Janez Drnovsek. The record notes that a transcript of the proceedings was sent in Serbo-Croat to the FBI’s Cleveland office.

Another document records the FBI’s decision in June 1990, four months after Mandela was set free, to send an informant from Philadelphia to New York to snoop on a meeting that the bureau thought was about to take place between Mandela and Puerto Rican independence activists. “Information contained in this communication is extremely singular in nature and must not be disseminated outside the FBI or existing terrorism task forces,” it stated.

The newly declassified records are the second batch relating to FBI monitoring of Mandela to be obtained by Ryan Shapiro, a freedom of information expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the first set of documents, made public in May, it was disclosed that the bureau had used a confidential informant to gain an inside track on Mandela’s first visit to America in June 1990.

The new batch suggests that the FBI continued to see Mandela and the ANC through a paranoid cold war lens even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and after Mandela had emerged as one of the great democratic figureheads. The bureau’s obsession with categorising Mandela as a threat to domestic national security reached such a pitch that even elements within the FBI were driven to question the bureau’s prevailing analysis.

In August 1990, the FBI’s Chicago field office wrote a secret memo that highlighted the historical ignorance of its sister branch in New York which had classed the ANC as a “known Soviet front group”. The memo complained that “our description of the ANC as a Soviet front is an over-simplification which fails to recognize the complex and paradoxical nature of that particular organization (which was, of course, founded before the Russian revolution).”

Despite such enlightened interventions, the FBI carried on investigating links between the ANC and anti-apartheid and anti-racist groups in the US over many years. In 1984, federal agents kept watch over a senior ANC official, Makhenkesi Stofile, as he made a tour of the US meeting anti-apartheid groups. It also kept records of the involvement of Democratic Congress representatives in the Free Nelson Mandela campaign.

“The documents reveal that, just as it did in the 1950s and 60s with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, the FBI aggressively investigated the US and South African anti-apartheid movements as communist plots imperiling American security,” Shapiro said.

Many of the documents are heavily redacted, and Shapiro said he is now pressing for release of the complete uncensored records. He is also continuing to sue the CIA, National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency for all their paperwork on Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement.

Just 60 years ago, in the summer of 1954, South Africa’s prime minister and architect of apartheid Daniel Francois Malan and his ultra-racist National Party government had a real irritant and they needed to get rid of it. The thorn in their side was Sophiatown, the multiracial cultural suburb of Johannesburg that, more than anywhere else, showed up the barrenness and nonsense of the obscene apartheid system: here.

Seattle Times, Associated Press blast FBI for fake article to snare bomb suspect. The paper expressed anger at the agency, which created a mock article on a fake Web page in an effort to locate and arrest a minor who made threats against a Washington school in 2007. The ploy worked, but the newspaper claims the FBI ‘misappropriated’ the paper’s name and put its reputation ‘at peril’: here.

1971: Johanna Hamilton documentary reveals how citizen burglars broke into FBI office and exposed huge abuse and public surveillance: here.