Mandela and Peter Hain: A comment

Piet Swanepoel on the real man, not the mythical character


The article in today's Politicsweb by  Sam Van den Bergh about Peter Hain's book, which will apparently be titled "Mandela", prompts one to ask if the time has not come to have a real hard look at the motives of people and organizations who are latching on the name of Mr. Mandela. At the same time the real Mr. Mandela, not the mythical character, could also be subjected to impartial study.

A group which appears particularly keen to be connected with Mr. Mandela are the heirs of the imperialist, Cecil John Rhodes. Thus we find that there exists a "Mandela Rhodes Foundation"; "Mandela Foundation Rhodes Scholarships"; a "Friends of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation (USA); a "Mandela Rhodes Building"; a hotel called the "Mandela Rhodes Place" and probably some other Mandela Rhodes things as well. 

The irony of this is that one of Rhodes's biographers describes him as the prototype of modern fascism.  His views of Africans were described as follows in 1902 by the British journalist, W.T Stead, in his book about Rhodes:

"His (Rhodes's) own native policy... was stated by him in 1888 as follows:‘Well I have made up my mind that there must be class legislation, that there must be Pass Laws and Peace Preservation Acts , and that we have got to treat natives, where they are in a state of barbarism in a different way to ourselves. We are to be lords over them.These are my politics on native affairs and those are the politics of South Africa.  Treat the natives as a subject people as long as they continue in a state of barbarism and communal tenure; be the lords over them, and let them be a subject race and keep the liquor from them'". (p.148-9)

And the truth about Mr. Mandela is that he was a man who believed in violence as a political weapon long before any of his compatriots did.  One need only read Long Walk to Freedom to find proof of this.  And he believed in violence even after he was released from gaol. In Anthony Sampson's Mandela - The Authorised Biography we read the following account of what happened the day the Zulus marched past the Shell House Headquarters of the ANC:

"Mandela gave orders to the security guards: ‘You must protect that house, even if you are to kill people'". The result was that  "ANC guards, after firing a warning shot, aimed straight at the crowd, killing eight people, including some who were hit in the back as they fled". (p.45)

In Anthea Jeffery's book, Peoples's War  -  New Light on the Struggle for South Africa, we find that a court subsequently found that  "Prima Facie there was no justification for shooting at the crowd..."(p.460), but, like the arms deal, these killings were never investigated or the killers brought to justice. The reason?  We find that in Me. Jeffery's book also. She  quotes  Mr. Mandela as saying that he had "refused police permission to enter Shell House to gather evidence on the killing of the eight Zulus".  And Mr. De Klerk, afraid that a search would interfere with the negotiating process, called off the search.

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