By Knowledge Teya
THE story of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first black President of South Africa, is quite intriguing.
After being jailed for 27 years for fighting apartheid, this so-called African icon, after his release, turned out to be a darling of the whiteman.
And 23 years after South Africa attained independence, there are still burning questions about ‘uThatha’, as Mandela was known, and how he negotiated for independence as a prisoner.
Did Mandela sell out blacks in order to free himself?
Did Mandela betray the revolution?
Is the Mandela who went to jail the same Mandela who came out?
Was Mandela, that fiery youth, compromised by whites to turn against his own ideals – ideals of empowering black people in South Africa?
Did the whiteman kill the original Mandela and replace him with their own Mandela who would protect white interests and capital in South Africa?
These questions no doubt need answers and in this case, one has to refer to Mandela’s words at the opening of the defence case in the famous Rivonia Trial in the Pretoria Supreme Court on April 20 1964.
This was just before Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment and it’s important to quote him at length.
Said Mandela then: “Africans want to be allowed to own land in places where they work, and not to be obliged to live in rented houses which they can never call their own.
Africans want to be part of the general population and not confined to living in their own ghettoes.
African men want to have their wives and children to live with them where they work, and not be forced into an unnatural existence in men’s hostels.
African women want to be with their men folk and not be left permanently widowed in the reserves.
Africans want to be allowed out after 11pm and not to be confined to their rooms like little children.
Africans want to be allowed to travel in their own country and to seek work where they want to and not where the Labour Bureau tells them to.
Africans want a just share in the whole of South Africa; they want security and a stake in society.
Above all, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent.
I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be African.
This makes the whiteman fear democracy.
But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all.
It is not true that the enfranchisement of will result in racial domination.
Political division, based on colour, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another.
The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs it will not change the policy.
This is then what the ANC is fighting.
Their struggle is a truly national one.
It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and their own experience.
It is a struggle for the right to live.
During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people.
I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination.
I have cherished the ideal of democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.
It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Fast-forward to 2017 and reflect on Mandela’s words before and after his incarceration at Robben Island.
Today whites are still in control in South Africa.
Today blacks are still in the ghettoes.
Those who have been to slums like Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Tembisa, Alexander Park and Mamelodi, among others, know the goings on in these areas.
Did Mandela really liberate blacks down south?
Did he give them economic independence or cosmetic independence?
Are South Africans today proud land owners or are they still stuck in their little shacks – little rooms like little children?
Is racism in South Africa gone, 23 years after independence?
How does the ANC and South Africans explain that ‘whites-only’ town in South Africa called Orania that was ironically established in 1994 during the last phase of apartheid – the same year South Africa gained independence?
The man responsible for the establishment of this town was Carel Boshof III, son-in-law to Hendrik F. Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid in South Africa who was Prime Minister from 1958 to 1966.
It is our understanding that no black South African or any other person who is not an Afrikaner is allowed to live in Orania, even if he/she speaks Afrikans or is married to an Afrikaner.
Is Orania part of this so-called ‘Rainbow Nation’ or it is an embodiment of white supremacy in South Africa?
Is this what Mandela and other nationalists like Oliver Tambo fought for?
And then there is that famous ANC document called The Freedom Charter authored on June 26 1955 in Kliptown.
It is from this document that Mandela, before his release from prison in 1990, got the inspiration to promise South Africans the nationalisation of banks and mines, among other things.
Reads the Charter in part:
“The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people, the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industries shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole, all other industries and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people.”
Do black South Africans, 23 years after independence, own the mineral wealth beneath their soil?
Do they own the banks and industries?
Here are some revealing truths about this so-called Rainbow Nation:
l Blacks own less than 19 percent stake on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
l Blacks own about three percent of the entire South Africa economy.
l About 70 percent of the land is white-owned.
l The judiciary is dominated by whites.
l Back in 1997, when Mandela was serving his one-off presidential term, 60 percent of black households’ income ranged between R250-R1 250 while that of the white households was between R2500-R8300 in a study by South Africa Labour Development Research Unit.
l It was reported that one quarter of the blacks earned an income of R300 a month.
Therefore the regression of the ANC on nationalising the economy has created a bigger gap between the whites and blacks and is even worse off between the rich and the poor.
Pundits contend Mandela negotiated ‘cosmetic independence’ for South Africans while others suggest he had a secret pact with the whites prior to his release.
No doubt, the land question is still to be addressed in South Africa.
Blacks constitute 80 percent of the population which stands at 52 million, but they own less than 30 percent of the land.
What this means is, whites still own 70 percent of the land.
Would it be wrong to say by ‘entertaining’ whites, Mandela maintained the property rights of the Boers who came to South Africa in 1652.
What Mandela turned a blind eye on continues to haunt South Africans 23 years after independence.
Was President Mugabe wrong to criticise Mandela for not empowering his people when he said: “What was the most important thing for Mandela was his release from prison and nothing else.
He cherished that freedom more than anything else and forgot why he was put in jail.”
And because he forgot why he was put in jail, whites saw it fit to place his 2,7 metre-high bronze statue created by English sculptor Ian Walters at the heart of London’s Parliament Square. It was valued at 400 000 pounds then.
The same whites in 2008 hosted a birthday bash for him in London were the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown described Mandela as an ‘inspiration’.
Whether Mandela is an inspiration or not is for the public to judge but the fact remains that Mandela, the icon, was stolen from us by the same whites who incarcerated him.