The way I see it, is duality - complete duality. It was an adaptation to the requirements of the time. I was there. I am a 44 year-old white South African. My father was (and still is) very anti-segregation and used to treat all people (black, white, yellow and brown) with respect. He NEVER voted for the National Party and I remember huge arguments (as a kid) between him and friends. So, my eyes where opened to another possibility, an alternative view. Nonetheless, I went through the Apartheid system, as did most of my white peers. We had no choice, from school, military service to young adults, we were brainwashed. But in the back of my mind, there was always the question... Is this how it should be?
As far as Nelson Mandela goes, he was no angel. He mandated and ordered bombings and murders of civilians - men, woman and children. Let’s be realistic about this. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. I did my 2-year national service and in the time that we were deployed in various (large) "locations" in "Traansvaal" of the day, I witnessed a lot. We as soldiers simply obeyed orders. We didn't understand much of the politics behind what we were doing, nor was it our place to question our superiors. We were trained to follow orders, without question. All we really cared about was our mate, our “Makker”, our buddy - the guy next to you... However, there are a lot of misconceptions about what we did in those times. MUCH of our time in the "locations" was spent protecting black people from the ANC. There were lots of people who did not support the ANC and they were hunted and tortured and brutally murdered by the ANC. I could not understand our role and the total contradictions in place – here we were, in a “state of emergency”, a “racist” force, protecting black people from other black people. How was that racist? As I have said previously, we did not understand how deep the rabbit hole went.
The Nelson Mandela that the world celebrates today is not the Nelson Mandela of the 70’s and 80’s. That man was a murdering terrorist. I now know and understand his motives for what he did, but that does not excuse them. What alternative he had, I do not know. I doubt there was an alternative.
The Nelson Mandela I mourn today was not the Nelson Mandela of the 70’s and 80’s. Here is the duality. The Nelson Mandela who was released from prison in the early 90’s and chose a path, which I am not sure I would have been able to take if I had been subjected to same circumstances, is the man I respect today. After a life-time of subjugation and 27 years of imprisonment, I am not sure I would have had the foresight, the strength of character and the wisdom to have chosen the path he did.
That is the leader I would follow. That is the man of vision I would rally behind. He saw the big picture and selflessly put our country before his own need for vengeance. That is a leader who truly wanted to see a prosperous, united country. There are two things that sadden me on this day. One is the passing of a great man, a great leader. The other, is the passing of a political movement and a country he dreamed of. The ANC of today is not the ANC that Madiba had wished for. The country today, is not heading where Madiba wished it to go. If the ANC of today was what he had planned, they would have my vote every time. Sadly it is not.
R.I.P. My enemy, my ally. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela.
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