Fahamu (Oxford)

8 January 2014

South Africa After Nelson Mandela - Time for the White Minority to Make Concessions As Madiba Did

opinion

Photo: Westcapenews
ANC supporters at a rally (file photo).

Among some of the important ways to continue to honour, cherish and act upon Madiba's legacy are for Africans to stop fighting one another and the white minority to give up their white privileges and economic might.

As an ancient Chinese proverb says: "One generation plants the trees, under whose shade another generation rests", the generation of Nelson Mandela fought for the political independence we in Africa enjoy today.

However, for us the current generation of Africans, now it is our turn to fight for the total economic liberation of Africa, for, as Patrice Lumumba said, "political independence is meaningless without economic independence."

Nelson Mandela actually said: "Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation."

MANDELA'S CONTESTED LEGACY

Although Mandela's legacy can be interpreted differently by different people, the fundamental question is: How are we going to make sure that we continue to honour, cherish and act upon the core of Mandela's legacy which is encapsulated in what I call his "Never again Speech. " Mandela once said: "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land [of Africa] will again experience the oppression of one by another."

Mandela's "Never again Speech" represents both an achievement resulting in the establishment of a free democratic, non-racial "rainbow nation" of South Africa after his liberation from prison and his election as the first Black African president; as well as an ongoing process because Mandela's legacy is a double-edged sword: African people have forgiven but not forgotten!

Before Mandela, with Mandela and after Mandela, the fundamental historical truth remains that for past generations of African people in struggle and for future generations to come, what is now called South Africa is the land of their ancestors out of which they draw their identity, dignity, rights and duties to make it even more beautiful than before, a South Africa where all enjoy equal opportunities.

Lest we forget, in his speech at the rally in Cuba on 26 July 1991 on the occasion of the 38th anniversary of the start of the Cuban revolution, Nelson Mandela masterly and beautifully explained that fundamental truth thus in an excerpt below:

"Although we took up arms, that was not our preference. It was the apartheid regime that forced us to take up arms. Our preference has always been for a peaceful resolution of the apartheid conflict.

The combined struggles of our people within the country, as well as the mounting international struggle against apartheid during the 1980s, raised the possibility of a negotiated resolution of the apartheid conflict.

The decisive defeat of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola by Cuban internationalists altered the balance of forces within the region and substantially reduced the capacity of the Pretoria regime to destabilize its neighbours. This, in combination with our people's struggles within the country, was crucial in bringing Pretoria to realize that it would have to talk.

It was the ANC that initiated the current peace process that we hope will lead to a negotiated transfer of power to the people. We have not initiated this process for goals any different from those when we pursued the armed struggle. Our goals remain achievement of the demands of the Freedom Charter, and we will settle for nothing less than that.

"No process of negotiations can succeed until the apartheid regime realizes that there will not be peace unless there is freedom and that we are not going to negotiate away our just demands. They must understand that we will reject any constitutional scheme that aims at continuing white privileges."

"That power is the power of the people!" That single sentence inspired young Sowetans to reject being taught in Afrikans. So we do not worry too much about what will happen after the passing of Madiba. Nothing has altered the power of the people and nothing will alter the power of the people in the future. They just must organize, organize, organize!

So what are the best ways to continue to honour, cherish and act upon Madiba's legacy? I suggest four ways:

1. We must avoid being "politically correct" all the time!

That is because the "remaining liberation" of South Africa, both social-economic and political is tied to the total liberation of the whole continent of Africa. I say "the remaining liberation of South Africa" keeping Madiba's position on this matter which he made so clear in the same speech at the rally in Cuba on 26 July 1991, when he said:

"We too want to control our own destiny.

We are determined that the people of South Africa will make their future and that they will continue to exercise their full democratic rights after liberation from apartheid. We do not want popular participation to cease at the moment when apartheid goes. We want to have the moment of liberation open the way to ever-deepening democracy."

It is up to the African people both in Azania or South Africa and in the African continent as a whole to define what that "ever-deepening democracy" means.

But land reform remains an outstanding issue which, if addressed, can solve all other social-economic and political issues faced by the Black majority. Inspiration comes from Zimbabweans and their great lion leader Robert Mugabe.

2. It is time for the white minority to make concessions too as Madiba did!

Twenty two years after the demise of apartheid, very little has changed for the black majority in South Africa. The scars of apartheid are yet to be healed. Racial inequality still persists and the lives of black people in South Africa still need to be improved.

The 5 percent white South African population still controls 80% of the country's wealth. It is therefore time for the white minority to make concessions too as Madiba did! Compulsory wealth distribution is the way forward. Black Economic Empowerment must not be a simple window dressing process in which a few token blacks become millionaires at the expense of fellow black Africans!

Surprisingly, when former South African President FW de Klerk addressed the Royal Commonwealth Society in London on 12 May 2009, this writer asked him why a "two South Africas' dispensation still applied following the end of apartheid more than a decade before.

In his response, De Klerk said that "the South African economy will collapse if compulsory wealth redistribution policies were introduced because white minorities will take their capital out of the country. You would then kill the goose that lays golden eggs".

He made no reference to the outcry of the majority poor blacks who constitute the African National Congress (ANC)'s electorate.

How come in a post-apartheid South Africa, some South Africans remain the goose that lays golden eggs and others are not?! To be or not to be, that is the question!

We do not want a "neo-apartheid system" in South Africa. If apartheid system resurges in any shape or form, especially in a subtle way - be it economically, including with the complicity of some Black elite, it will find the people's power on its way!

3. Africans must stop fighting each other!

The fact that immediately after the passing of Nelson Mandela, Africans started hacking each other to death in Central African Republic and South Sudan, Rwanda and Uganda are being masterminded by Britain and America to invade the DRC, to kill, rape and loot national resources.

Impunity is guaranteed them by the same Western powers even after a genocide of up to 6 million Congolese people! Is that acceptable? Not in the least!

This is not honoring Mandela's legacy of peace and unity throughout the continent! Africans must stop fighting each other! All Africans have only one common enemy to fight against:That is under-development which breeds poverty and backwardness.

Impunity must not be tolerated in Africa! Muammar Gadhafi was right to put forward the idea of continental court of justice. Trading more and more with each other, launching cross-border development projects, cultural exchanges... will render the borders we inherited from colonialism irrelevant in our psyche but relevant in case a neighboring state is a war-monger.

4. Africans must cease to be "used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up their territory or subvert our sovereignty" - to paraphrase Nelson Mandela himself.

The powers that be in the United States of America (especially the Reagan Administration) and Europe (especially the Margaret Thatcher Administration) constituted the soil that nourished the roots of the system of apartheid in many covert, subtle and overt ways (they labelled Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and with the CIA's complicity, managed to arrest him and put him in jail for 27 years!

But he remained tenacious, resilient ad determined for the cause he was fighting for). That is perfectly understandable because the apartheid state and the American state are both the result of settlement colonies, the establishment of which cost African people a lot in terms of slavery, colonialism, apartheid and neo-colonialism.

As a recent article in African Executive puts it, "the daily diet of headline news about Africa is stuffed with plentiful servings of war, violence, corruption, rape and similar vices from the so-called "dark continent" bears contrary testimony to the tantalizing promise of the billion-reasons campaign to lift the burden of stigma and enigma that hangs over the continent.

The colonial enterprise of myth-making and racial stereotyping continues to yield a repertoire of nicknames and aliases gratuitously conferred upon Africa.

Without exception, such nicknames denote primitiveness and savagery - from Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" to Henry Morton Stanley's "Dark Continent" and The Economist magazine's "Hopeless Continent."

This patronizing pastime of name-calling or nicknaming Africa reinforces a stereotypical thinking embedded deeply in mythical colonial portrayal of the continent's complex identity and history. This is what The Coca-Cola Company invites us to counteract with brighter, more hopeful images and narratives of Africa".

The West's plan to carve up African countries (Second Berlin Conference) with the complicity of some Africans themselves (divide and rule, Museveni has been labelled the Bismarck of Africa!) or subvert African countries'sovereignty truly exists if you take the partition of Sudan, the war in Eastern Congo and in Northern Nigeria... into consideration.

African leaders who have advocated Pan-Africanism, namely Nkrumah, Lumumba, Sekou Toure, Amílcar Cabral, Sobukwe, Tambo, Sankara, Samora Machel, Muammar Gadhafi, Laurent Kabila..., have all been "stamped out."

The truth is that it is the survival of the West that is at stake.

Both Europe and America, hit hard the global crisis caused by the corruption of their own financial system and scared to the bone by the rise of China and its growing presence in Africa, are using the "fight against terrorism" as a bait in protecting their interests in Africa and in capturing Africa's vast resources.

As Congolese scholar Dr Malonga Miatudila put it, the misery of Africans is the happiness of very many people. And some of these people are eminently powerful. "Africa's mess" is carefully organized and orchestrated.

This new scramble for Africa is aimed at curtailing China's growing influence in the continent, as Mark Kapchanga put it in his article published in Global Times, a Chinese daily.

France's survival is tied to its control of its former African colonies. That is why its actions in its former colonies now are particularly worrying! In fact a French "Defense Report", published in October 2012, viewed Pan-Africanism as a threat to Western interests in Africa. How come Pan-Africanism is labelled as a threat but European Unionism or NATO-ism are not?

- Lokongo from Congo

THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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