There is a Mandela we should all reject and hate.

2014-07-21 16:47

This July marked the first one without Nelson Mandela since he was born in 1918. It’s a month that also posed a challenge for all of us.

How do we prevent our memory of him becoming a myth that in years to come many people would over?

We are faced with the challenge of how do we keep the memory and the name of Nelson Mandela for future generations to learn from, not to fight each other with.

It is a great challenge because we already have versions of Nelson Mandela that many are using for their own, personal or organisational interest.

There is a version of a Mandela cropped out of the real one: that of a jolly, saintly dancing one.

It’s all good to hear and see this version of Mandela because he makes everyone happy and everyone likes what they hear from him.

Any person who makes everyone happy is not real, and the Mandela that does so is not the real Mandela but the one the world has constructed but removing the parts of the man some people did not like.

Many use this Mandela to project themselves as real defenders of his legacy while not living according to his values and disregarding what he stood for.

Like hypocrites in religion, they only extract what makes them happy from Mandela and disregard the rest.

It is an image of a very liberal Nelson Mandela who expected South Africa to be perfect within a very short space of time.

It’s an image of a man who is a messiah, who delivered freedom and democracy to South Africa single handedly.

This cropped out image of Mandela from the real one is ingrained in the minds of those who resist transformation and economic freedom of black people Mandela fought for.

These anti-transformation, anti-justice and very ignorant people use this image to protect what they have.

They easily tell people to “get over apartheid” which Mandela spent his life fighting against.

I sometimes wonder if he was fighting for us to get over apartheid or to forgive and remember.

Attempts made to redress and bring about economic and social equality are resisted using Mandela’s name.

The Mandela that future generations should remember is the one that brought political freedom to a people that were once nothing in their own land. It’s a Mandela that knew such political freedom laid the foundation to build on and achieve economic freedom.

It’s a Nelson Mandela that knew we won’t achieve these things without justice

Justice he knew would be achieved by radical transformation -transformation of the economy that would empower black people not just by putting them as faces of companies but by making them masters of their own destiny and not a destiny for the people he fought against.

The Israeli media won’t like the Mandela who said: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.

Same as the American media will never quote him when he said: “We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious, imperialist-orchestrated campaign; we, too, want to control our own destiny”.

This they will do because they are the “imperialist” Mandela was talking about and America did not like the relationship Mandela maintained with Fidel Castro the Cuban leader.

When our media tells us about Mandela it won’t tell us about a Madiba that was critical of said media.

Though the media praises Nelson Mandela, and in doing so the omit the ANC deliberately, it will never refer to when he said ANC delegates in one of its conferences should: “confront the fact that during the last three years (of ANC’s government since 1994), the matter became perfectly clear that the bulk of the mass media in South Africa set itself up as force opposed to the ANC”.

The media will only be happy to use Mandela and separate him from the ANC that introduced him to politics and gave him the platform to become the world icon that he was.

Those who oppose transformation policies such as affirmative action will only want to use Madiba to justify their stance and will never accept the Nelson Mandela who said: "We are not . . . asking for handouts for anyone, nor are we saying that just as a white skin was a passport to privileged past, so a black skin should be the basis for privilege in future.

"Nor . . . is it our aim to do away with qualifications . . . [T]he special measures that we envisage to overcome the legacy of past discrimination are not intended to ensure the advancement of unqualified persons, but to see to it that those who have been denied access to qualifications in the past can become qualified now and those who have been qualified all along but overlooked because of past discrimination, are at last given their due . . . The first point to be made is that affirmative action must be rooted in principles of justice and equality."

The Mandela the world has created is one I am sure he himself would not recognize. It’s a Mandela that we should all reject because he does not belong to us and we should not give to the future generation.

We will overcome this challenge by preserving Nelson Mandela as a man who was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.

A man that was through all his years fighting in a collective of people that his name represents but does not replace.

follow @EsethuHasane on Twitter

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