A candid and fair assessment? Indeed!

Nelson Mandela: A Candid Assessment

by Timothy J. Williams:  (1catholicsalmon’s reposted this article which can be found here. This is a balanced and fair comment on Mandela’s life and life lived in South Africa today.)

Mandela-(Steven Siewert)Calling him one of the “most influential, courageous and profoundly good people to ever have lived,” President Obama ordered all U.S. flags lowered to half-staff in honor of Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, December 5. As the worldwide tributes pour in for the former leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and first black president of South Africa, it is good to remember just who Mandela was, and who he wasn’t.

As president of South Africa, Mandela—though a typically bumbling socialist—was not a vengeful character. After having spent much of his adult life in prison, he is widely praised for not seeking to retaliate against the former white rulers, and for having largely urged reconciliation and compromise in undoing the injustices of Apartheid. Though Mandela was a committed Marxist, he was also a pragmatist, disappointing his more impatient comrades by not immediately carrying out the massive nationalizations of industry he had promised, so as not to drive away foreign investment. And he recognized his own limitations, both physical and political, in deciding not to attempt to remain in power after his term in office.

Most white South Africans rejoin that Nelson Mandela had no reason to seek revenge on anyone, nor any basis for extending forgiveness to his previous jailors. After all, as the most famous prisoner of the previous Apartheid government, he had been fairly tried and convicted of complicity in many murders, and he confessed to participation in 156 acts of terror, crimes that would certainly have earned him the death penalty in a great many countries. Moreover, his confinement was more than comfortable by any standards. During his legendary twenty-seven years in prison, Mandela communicated freely with his followers, and somehow managed to accumulate a considerable fortune. He was continually offered release by the white Apartheid government, but on one condition: that he renounce violence in pursuit of political reform. That is something he consistently refused to do.

As was made clear by testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Mandela was personally involved in the targeting and timing of terrorist bombings that took place during his imprisonment, such as the infamous “Church Street Massacre,” designed to maximize casualties among Afrikaner women and children. Even a group as left-leaning as Amnesty International refused to grant Mandela political prisoner status because of the obviously violent character of his ideology and his actions. His African National Congress party ran a horrific camp for political prisoners in Angola, with daily torture and murder, often by the “necklacing” technique, whereby a gasoline-filled tire is placed around the neck of a victim and set ablaze. Virtually all the victims of this particular horror were blacks.

Within South Africa, on direct orders from Winnie and Nelson Mandela, the ANC targeted not only whites, but also all black civil servants, teachers, lawyers, and businessmen—essentially anyone who imagined a post-Apartheid South Africa that differed from the one mandated by the Marxist ANC. Even simple black peasants who refused to carry out terror attacks were treated as enemies, and they were killed in large numbers. Thus, just as the terroristic FLN killed far more Algerians than did the French during the Algerian war for independence, the ANC was the leading cause of death, by far, for black South Africans throughout the period of Apartheid.

The only reality that makes it even remotely possible to view Mandela as a “statesman” is that he lived on a continent where the definition of “statecraft” is not exactly rigorous or exemplary. Since the wave of decolonization following World War II, the number of African states ruled by ruthless dictators has always been in the majority, and sometimes approached unanimity. The precise number of tyrants involved is actually difficult to ascertain. One simply loses count, and the shadows of the worst of them conceal the merely “semi-heinous” crimes of the lesser despots, so that their names are eclipsed and you find yourself asking: “Does so-and-so really fit the African definition of a tyrant?”

Numbered among the rogue gallery of miscreants who have wielded power on that tragic continent, we find some of the world’s biggest drug traffickers, diamond smugglers, and slave traders. It seems that the poorer an African nation is, the greater the wealth accumulated by its “President for Life.” Almost every country in black-ruled Africa has a system of gulags. All elections are rigged, free press is non-existent, and all dissent comes from exiles. In the past fifty years, there have been more wars in Africa than in all the other continents combined. And everything is considered a weapon of war: ethnic cleansing, child soldiering and child rape, even cannibalism. Just refraining from committing genocide in Africa practically sets one up for comparison with Mother Theresa.

So in this regard, Mandela (post-Apartheid, at least) does indeed look pretty good. Though personally implicated in a great many murders, there is at least no record of him ever eating a political foe or advocating child rape or promoting genocide. And he left office voluntarily in 1999, even if this was due more to advancing years, frail health, and the realization that he had no talent for governing, rather than to a real commitment to democracy. Still, by African standards, this is the stuff of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Mandela did, however, leave behind another socialist nightmare in the making. With their motto of “liberation before education,” the ANC has proved itself completely incapable of governing, and South Africa is sliding into chaos at an alarming rate. Since 2004, South Africa has experienced almost constant political protests, many of them violent. Activists like to refer to the nation as the most “protest-rich in the world,” which, along with prison camps, is the only type of “riches” a socialist nation can produce. The nation is staggered by unemployment, corruption throughout all levels of the police, military, and civil service, and ubiquitous, inescapable crime. Life in South Africa is far more dangerous, especially for blacks and women, than it was under Apartheid. With about fifty murders a day, the nation is now among the undisputed murder capitals of the world, most of these crimes going uninvestigated. The astounding estimates of other violent crimes, including rape, are almost impossible to believe. But only the truth of such figures could account for the fact that the private security business in South Africa is the largest in the world, with over a quarter-million private security guards in a nation of under 53 million.

Taking their lead from the disaster in neighboring Zimbabwe, the government of South Africa is now looking the other way as white farmers are driven off their land by arson and murder. It is said that job advertisements, even those posted by the government, routinely include the phrase “Whites need not apply.” Would it be an exaggeration to say that a “reverse Apartheid” is taking place in South Africa? The nearly one million white South Africans who have fled the growing chaos don’t think so.

Of course, life in South Africa is now most dangerous for the most defenseless, for those waiting to be born. As president, Mandela—ever the pragmatist—signed the most liberal abortion law in all of Africa, with no reason at all needed for a woman to procure abortion in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and abortion easy to obtain through all nine months. Since this law took effect in 1997, even the most conservative estimates put the number of abortions that have taken place at one million. Once again, socialists and pragmatists of all stripes reveal that they cannot conceive of any form of good governance that does not involve killing on a massive scale.

Yes, some South Africans view Mandela as a nearly messianic figure. Desmond Tutu has publically thanked God for the “gift” of Mandela. But this is the same “bishop” Tutu who recently stated that he would decline his own invitation to heaven if God turned out to be a “homophobe.” Any pious invocation by Tutu has to be regarded as more than a little suspect. Nor can we have any confidence in Barack Obama when he declares that Mandela “achieved more than could be expected of any man” and that “he belongs to the ages.” Obama no doubt believes he himself “belongs to the ages,” since his signature “accomplishments”—the government seizure of medical care, the enthronement of abortion, and the promotion of homosexual “marriage”—are all policies promoted by the ANC in the new South Africa. So we should not expect to hear much from the Obama administration about Mandela’s violent past. Statists never find anything to reproach in one of their own.

(Photo credit: Steven Siewert)

 

‘So here I stand, one girl among many…’

Malala Yousafzai (16) made a speech at the UN, asking world leaders to ensure every child’s right to an education.
This was the first-ever set of education policy recommendations written for youth, by youth.
“So here I stand… one girl among many.
I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys.
I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”
Hero_Malala_QUOTE

Below is the full text of Malala Yousafzai’s speech at the United Nations

In the name of God, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.
Honourable UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon,
Respected President General Assembly Vuk Jeremic
Honourable UN envoy for Global education Mr Gordon Brown,
Respected elders and my dear brothers and sisters;
Today, it is an honour for me to be speaking again after a long time. Being here with such honourable people is a great moment in my life.
I don’t know where to begin my speech. I don’t know what people would be expecting me to say. But first of all, thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and a new life. I cannot believe how much love people have shown me. I have received thousands of good wish cards and gifts from all over the world. Thank you to all of them. Thank you to the children whose innocent words encouraged me. Thank you to my elders whose prayers strengthened me.
I would like to thank my nurses, doctors and all of the staff of the hospitals in Pakistan and the UK and the UAE government who have helped me get better and recover my strength. I fully support Mr Ban Ki-moon the Secretary-General in his Global Education First Initiative and the work of the UN Special Envoy Mr Gordon Brown.  And I thank them both for the leadership they continue to give. They continue to inspire all of us to action.
Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing. Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. There are hundreds of Human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for human rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goals of education, peace and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them.
So here I stand…    one girl among many.
I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys.
I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.
Those who have fought for their rights:
Their right to live in peace.
Their right to be treated with dignity.
Their right to equality of opportunity.
Their right to be educated.
Dear Friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence came, thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.  I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.
Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorists group. I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child. I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists especially the Taliban.
I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me. I would not shoot him. This is the compassion that I have learnt from Muhammad-the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This is the legacy of change that I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This is the philosophy of non-violence that I have learnt from Gandhi Jee, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learnt from my mother and father. This is what my soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone.
Dear sisters and brothers, we realise the importance of light when we see darkness. We realise the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realised the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.
The wise saying, “The pen is mightier than sword” was true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. And that is why they killed 14 innocent medical students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they killed many female teachers and polio workers in Khyber Pukhtoon Khwa and FATA. That is why they are blasting schools every day.  Because they were and they are afraid of change, afraid of the equality that we will bring into our society.
I remember that there was a boy in our school who was asked by a journalist, “Why are the Taliban against education?” He answered very simply. By pointing to his book he said, “A Talib doesn’t know what is written inside this book.” They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would send girls to the hell just because of going to school. The terrorists are misusing the name of Islam and Pashtun society for their own personal benefits. Pakistan is peace-loving democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons. And Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. Islam says that it is not only each child’s right to get education, rather it is their duty and responsibility.
Honourable Secretary General, peace is necessary for education. In many parts of the world especially Pakistan and Afghanistan; terrorism, wars and conflicts stop children to go to their schools. We are really tired of these wars. Women and children are suffering in many parts of the world in many ways. In India, innocent and poor children are victims of child labour. Many schools have been destroyed in Nigeria. People in Afghanistan have been affected by the hurdles of extremism for decades. Young girls have to do domestic child labour and are forced to get married at early age. Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems faced by both men and women.
Dear fellows, today I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women social activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But, this time, we will do it by ourselves. I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women’s rights rather I am focusing on women to be independent to fight for themselves.
Dear sisters and brothers, now it’s time to speak up.
So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity.
We call upon the world leaders that all the peace deals must protect women and children’s rights. A deal that goes against the dignity of women and their rights is unacceptable.
We call upon all governments to ensure free compulsory education for every child all over the world.
We call upon all governments to fight against terrorism and violence, to protect children from brutality and harm.
We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of educational opportunities for girls in the developing world.
We call upon all communities to be tolerant – to reject prejudice based on cast, creed, sect, religion or gender. To ensure freedom and equality for women so that they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.
We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave – to embrace the strength within themselves and realise their full potential.
Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child’s bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education for everyone. No one can stop us. We will speak for our rights and we will bring change through our voice. We must believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the world.
Because we are all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.
Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty, injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright peaceful future.
So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.
One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.
Education is the only solution. Education First.”

 

 

Living ‘in the middle’, in between and keeping the peace.

I pick up on a line of thought from a post over at the Foraging Squirrel that got my juices flowing and my mind ticking so much so, that I thought I’d follow suit  with my version of having ‘lived in the middle.’

I hail from the Rainbow nation of South Africa – that beautiful country on the Southern most tip of Africa. I grew up during the 60’s , 70’s , 80’s in a country wracked with racial tension, discrimination and later on violent overspill from the townships. In the late 70’s I met my spouse, whose family had decided to make the life-changing move to South Africa as Mozambique was in the throws of a civil war. The Portuguese/Mozambican settlers experienced their fair share of discrimination in their places of work, schools and in society in general as they had moved into a nation laced with suspicion of ‘outsiders’ and a  racist world-view that overshadowed every part of life. My spouse was not spared from discrimination, and yes sadly, did experience some tough times with the older members of my family. I was for the purposes of this post caught ‘in the middle’ here. Although I knew exactly where my loyalty rested, I had to make some difficult decisions about my relationship with my partner, bite the bullet and face the music head on.

Neslon Mandela (Madiba) in his old jail cell on Robben Island.

We celebrated the birth of our first-born in 1990 the year that Madiba (Nelson Mandela) was released from 27 years of incarceration on Robben Island, a momentous year for both  our family and our nation. The majority of my family leaned to the right politically with individual members veering off to the left. At this juncture of my life I ‘d planted myself firmly ‘in the middle’ politically. In retrospect, I was not as involved or informed on the political front as I could’ve been but I was certainly caught up in the day-to-day relationships with fellow citizens whose political stances swayed back and forth with varying amounts of force and in different directions.  As far as my Faith Journey is concerned, I considered myself to be a ‘good Catholic’, as I attended Mass weekly, made sure that we baptised our children and said my prayers regularly. This holy engine was kept running quietly in the background of a very busy life. It was not as yet, at the forefront of our lives.

The escalating violence and the stress of living in a society wrought with poverty of the majority and two small children forced our hand as parents to make the excruciating decision to move to the U.K. (Excruciating for me, as I left my entire extended family behind). This decision proved to be challenging on many levels. At this juncture we faced criticism  and bias about our decision, but knew that our decision was made out of love for our children (and our own emotional well-being), looking forward to the positive prospects and opportunities for them in a ‘first world’ country.

The first two to three years after our big move was testament to our blood sweat and tears in establishing new roots in a new community and culture. The one constant in our life, our Faith and Worship, was continued uninterrupted at our local parish. Our TRUE NORTH. It provided us with moral reassurances and spiritual support we so needed and was the one place where we fitted in without having to prove our worth. We were lucky that our children had received places in excellent local Catholic schools.  For me, the holy engine of Faith was becoming more of the motor for sustained living  which continues to drive our decision-making. It rose up on the horizon as a beacon of Light and Love and Sustenance, as I began to become more involved in the life of our parish.

As I ‘ve matured both in years as well as along my journey of Faith my world view is decided by the tenets upheld by  the Faith and my relationship with God. England is a secular country, boasting secular values and ways of life. Living here has brought Faith issues to the fore and continues to do so on a daily basis. Because of this I ‘ve had to make a conscious decision about how I am to live as a Catholic Christian. There’s no room to manoeuvre half-heartedly through the secular mazes I’m confronted with from day-to-day. I’ve had to make my position as a Christian quite clear, and for me there’s no going back on this. It’s too important.

This brings me to an experience which relates indirectly to the post referred to at the Foraging Squirrel called ‘Where’s the Love?‘. About three years ago I was approached by a fellow Catholic who was searching for reasons to remain Catholic. From her perspective , the Church held no convincing reasons for her to remain as a member of it, and it failed dismally in the area of  ‘hands-on Christianity’ that her fiance’s denomination provided. She approached me and a myriad of others  for advice and conversation around these issues, finally deciding that the Catholic Church was no longer for her. We know her family well and I had developed a professional relationship her through our work. The weight of her decision fell heavily on the shoulders of her family, and I floundered as I didn’t seem to have the answers she wanted to hear or needed to hear at the time. A few weeks after she’d made her decision, we received an invitation to her ‘baptism’. I was flabbergasted and very uncomfortable. Attending the baptism would validate her decision, show our support of her decision and negate all of the soul-searching we’d done. It would place us as Catholics in ‘no-man’s-land’. Neither here no there.  After careful consideration and debate, the fact that she’d already been Baptised swayed us to make the decision not to attend the baptism. Once Baptised always Baptised. You cannot be Baptised again. In this situation we were forced to show our hand as Catholics, there was no middle ground.

I think about her often, and wonder where she’s at. I do not regret our decision, but it was not as straightforward as one might initially think it to be. There are many factors to consider, least of which was her feelings, and those of her parents. I pray that one day she’ll understand and appreciate our stance and perhaps one day, she’ll return from across the other side of the Tiber.

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IMG_0413 (Photo credit: NVinacco)

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