The south African Independence: Nelson Mandela and the dawn that never came
By Ambei Milimu | January 17th 2017
In 1912, the South African Native National Congress was formed later getting renamed in 1923 the African National Congress (ANC).This was long after Vasco da Gama had sailed round the Cape of Good Hope en route to India (1497), long after the British had wrestled the Cape colony from the Dutch in 1806, long after the Zulus had with pride fought for dignity against the Dutch settlers(Boers) at the battle of Blood River as they sought to expand northwards in the famous Great Trek of 1838.
Indeed close to half a century since diamonds had been discovered in south Africa necessitating colonization of the native people. The formation of the ANC was received with great anticipation many believing, rightfully so, that it was a precursor to the winds of freedom that would sweep established white superiority out of the black continent.
How comes then such a great movement, with universal support from all pan-Africanists home and abroad failed so horribly? How could it be possible that it took the ANC another 82 years to finally deliver the long sought freedom and even when it did deliver, it fell terribly short of expectations? Every time I ask myself this question, the only meaningful answer I get is Nelson Mandela.
For none can deny, no man has had a greater impact on south African history. I believe the failure of the south African dream was the culmination of Mandela's ill-advised albeit well-intentioned decisions. No one denies the great personal sacrifices Mandela had to make for the sake of his people. Serving a 27-year prison term and losing grip of his family.
But in the end was it really worth it? I think not. There are those that will argue that I am trying to change history.I claim no such powers.Far from it. But it behooves anyone capable of reason to question history, take another perspective.
Mandela is not the only great story to have come out of the supposed ashes of the apartheid era.Supposed because apartheid is alive and well in south Africa.There are indeed warriors like Walter Sisulu, Steve Biko, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Winnie Mandela and Mangosuthu Buthelezi who I would argue should be mentioned in an equal or even greater measure.
It began way back in 1995 with ANC, ably led by Mandela and Tambo, accepting to be associated with the Freedom Charter that expressly stated that South Africa belonged to all who lived within its boundaries.Yes, that South Africa belonged equally to the oppressed black majority and oppressive white minority.
In the period between 1963's Mandela imprisonment and his release in 1990, real progress was made in the push for freedom.Such notable events as the Black Labor Union strike of 1973 and Soweto youth uprising in 1976 gave the movement a sense of urgency.
Unfortunately, over the course of his time in prison the belief that independence could only be achieved by freeing Mandela had taken root in the freedom movement. And so it was that instead of people fighting for the independence of South Africa, their effort shifted to seeking independence of one man, much to the pleasure of the ruling minority I would imagine.
In the end, when the ruling whites thought it wise and advantageous to their cause, they did release Mandela.Blacks sang and danced, meanwhile the ruling class was strengthening their grip on the systems making an independent south Africa unviable without their good will.
This is the only explanation to Mandela and de Clerk jointly receiving the Nobel peace prize, another internationally sanctioned insult to African intelligence.
That the oppressor is equally rewarded for allowing the oppressed to live free.An extended insult to the value of retributive justice I hold dear.
While this second failure as occasioned by Mandela was unintentional, his deliberate actions upon being released spelled doom for any hope of real freedom to black South Africans.His unconditional pursuit of peace was an unfortunate decision really as peace came at the expense of meaningful and tangible freedoms for black south Africans.
It meant that all native South Africans had to show for their effort was the use of well-tarmacked roads on their daily walks of trouble and shame, at least those not restricted by harsh financial realities to neglected townships predominantly occupied by blacks.
Mandela chose peace over real change, momentary peace over positive and sustainable peace.His fear of violence meant he held back those willing and able to finish the long walk to freedom by taking back African land.He accepted peace when it meant continued systematic oppression of the people he set out to emancipate in the first place.
The high rates of violence down south a symptom of pent up anger. It is said leaders of revolutions rarely make great leaders.I am tempted to agree. Maybe it was the duty of Mandela to set south Africans on their journey out of captivity but maybe not his responsibility to actually get them to the promised land.
Maybe Mandela would have better served the cause by dying in prison.Maybe out of this realization he opted to not seek another term at the helm. Maybe... For today in ' independent' South Africa, whites still own close to 75% of commercially productive agricultural land at the expense of blacks forced into sprawling slums as they seek alternative income in cities not ready to welcome them.
Those who elect to remain in the rural South Africa, it would mean, remain miserable laborers on 'white-owned' land if not summarily jobless due to widespread mechanization of agriculture.
Today in 'independent' south Africa there are less than 400 black professors and thousands of white professors. Today in 'independent' south Africa, white millennials have the moral authority to protest against a white farmer who forced a black 'trespasser' into a coffin even as they drive around town and their parents continue to draw salaries that average 6 times those of their black counterparts.
Today in 'independent' south Africa landless blacks are stopped from encroaching on land reserved for wildlife by white animal rights activists. Today in 'independent' South Africa, because of Nelson Mandela, south Africans are anything but independent. Today in independent South Africa.
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