A freedom fighter and a revolutionary with a vision

2012-07-28 09:54

Luther Lebelo
ANC chairperson: Liliesleaf Farm branch, Kyalami Hills

Mandela Day has come and passed but if the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s statement that “every day is Mandela day” is to be believed and practised, then the debate on Mandela, his birthday and his legacy should not begin and end on July 18.

One of the assertions our media and the institutions which have authority over Mandela’s name keep on stating and perhaps misusing, is the relationship between Mandela and reconciliation.

This reconciliation twist has been designed over time to create the impression that Mandela should be remembered as the man of reconciliation.

In his article, “Mandela Day is not a once off”, in response to my article, “An insult to Mandela”, Verne Harris, the head of the Mandela Centre of ­Memory makes the point that “we might hold dear the Mandela who led the armed struggle, who fought for freedom and who has spent nearly three decades in jail.

"But we must also reckon of Madiba who prioritised national reconciliation and presided over a government of national unity ...”

Although this assertion and many that sound like this one are not new or surprising, we should guard against this notion which relegates Mandela’s fight against racial oppression and equal society to a “by the way thing, something to be acknowledged in passing’’ while promoting him as a man of reconciliation, who was thrown to our country through heavenly ways to fix the crisis we as people caused in his absence.

This is a man who, even when there is so much poverty, unemployment and suffering, will keep quiet but preach the reconciliation, which thus far has been one-sided.

These assertions are all at odds with the true reflection of history and of the man’s ideals in that it deliberately ignores the fact that the position taken by the ANC regarding reconciliation, which Mandela led, was more a tactic towards a broader strategic vision of the ANC.

This vision is to create a nation and society destined to live together as one nation and to also avoid further ­bloodshed and racial hatred.

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