Afford me the courtesy of quoting the great man:
“There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile for us to continue talking peace and non-violence - against a government whose only reply is savage attacks on an unarmed and defenceless people. And I think the time has come for us to consider, in the light of our experiences at this day at home, whether the methods which we have applied so far are adequate.”
In recent reports about a US student who ask simple, but relevant questions about the US’ involvement in the arrest of the late statesman, I was left somewhat bemused by comments from compatriots, fellow countryman who feels like Mandela was a terrorist, the same as those in Al Qaeda. In challenging those compatriots any argument to the contrary is often shot down as being stupid, baseless and is reminiscence of an argument that can only be made by an ANC sheep.
Let us have this debate. Let us have this debate not as members of our respective political parties and not based on the colour of our skins, but as mere South Africans. Let us thoroughly look as the question at hand, to wit was Nelson Mandela a terrorist. I know he was classified as such by the inter alia the government of the United States of America, but as a South African what do you think?
For me it is kind of hard to write this argument, without being overcome by emotion as a result of personal history as well as the history of this great nation we call home. For the sake of this debate, I will however put emotions aside and give you an objective view of what I think. My contention is that it is / was indeed unfair to label Nelson Mandela as a terrorist.
In order for us to label Nelson Mandela as a terrorist we need to be mindful that even to date the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism has not been adopted, hence there is no uniform international definition of terrorism. This to me put a somewhat bleak spot on commentators quoting the definition from a dictionary. If we want to be really objective and have a fruitful argument, I believe the definition of terrorism should be at the forefront of our arguments.
Latter – day definitions of terrorism seem to be inherently controversial, as a deeper look into said definitions would show that it has been written by agencies associated by government and it is done so to deliberately government from said definitions. In our arguments we should therefore be careful of these definitions as to systematically exclude government from being terrorist can be dangerous. So what is a terrorist and who do we listen to in deciding whether or not a person should be labelled as such? Since 1994 the in condemning terrorist acts, the UN used the following political description of terrorism, to wit:
"Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them."[
From the description supra, the following very important question ought to be asked: What was the intention of the ANC armed struggle; was it to provoke a state of terror or was it the last resort of a desperate people? I will leave this for you to consider.
Was Nelson Mandela a terrorist or are those who say so in their angry an angry ad hominem attack bitter of his achievements? In the eyes of the USA Mandela was a terrorist, but why? I believe this can be traced back to the Russian and Cuban support of the ANC. America does not like Cuba and at the time of the Cold War Russia. This American myopia and self-absorption led them to label the ANC a terrorist organization. They have never considered whether or not the ANC was justified in taking up arms. Was the USA wrong in labeling the ANC terrorist? I believe the answer to that question can objectively be found in their reasons for retrospectively removing the ANC from their terror list. For the same reason the British government labeled the ANC terrorist. You know the ANC’ connections with Ireland? The IRA used similar tactics against British oppression as the ANC. Could that be why the British government labeled the ANC as terrorist? Also it was the British government and not the NP who started apartheid, albeit in a different name to wit segregation. So I can really understand why they would be opposed to those oppose to a system they invented.
I therefore believe both the British and American governments at that time had reasons other than the interest of South Africa to label the ANC as terrorist organization. So on that premise, how can we use the fact that Mandela was a terrorist in British and American eyes as basis for our arguments?
My argument is on facts other than emotions and affections; I hope in your rebuttal to it, you will leave yours out of your argument.
P.S And know this is going to come up, I truly feel for the victims of the Church Street bombing the same as I feel for the victims of Sharpeville and all other apartheid victims. They did not deserve what happened, but all of that would have been avoided if apartheid and / or segregation never happened.