Viewing the internet news sites yesterday suddenly began to seem like a tour of religious shrines. Nelson Mandela is dead and the time has come for our sources of Official History to launch him into sainthood.
If you are as old as me, you might remember this joke. If memory serves I heard it from Rush Limbaugh. It was back when Nelson and Winnie were getting divorced. You see, they were dividing assets and Winnie said that Nelson could have the car as long as she got the tires.
The joke involves “necklacing. “ According to Wikipedia:
Necklacing is the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tire, filled with petrol, around a victim’s chest and arms, and setting it on fire. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process…
The practice became a common method of lynching among black South Africans during disturbances in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. The first recorded instance took place in Uitenhage on 23 March 1985 when black African National Congress (ANC) supporters killed a black councillor who was accused of being a White collaborator.
Necklacing “sentences” were sometimes handed down against alleged criminals by “people’s courts” established in black townships as a means of enforcing their own judicial system. Necklacing was also used by the black community to punish members of the black community who were perceived as collaborators with the apartheid government. These included black policemen, town councilors and others, as well as their relatives and associates. The practice was often carried out in the name of the ANC. Winnie Mandela, then-wife of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and a senior member of the ANC, even made statements that endorsed its use. The ANC officially condemned the practice. The number of deaths per month in South Africa related to political unrest as a whole from 1992 through 1995 ranged from 54 to 605 and averaged 244.
I can’t tell from Wikipedia’s source when it condemned the practice. But you can find a story about Winnie here. What she said was that “we shall liberate this country” with “our boxes of matches and our necklaces.”
Mandela knew what he wanted and he got it. I can’t take that credit away from him and I don’t want to.
But he is no hero and his legacy is an ambiguous one.
Below Mandela is singing his anthem:
Inspired by Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement in the Cuban Revolution, in 1961 Mandela co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”, abbreviated MK) with Sisulu and the communist Joe Slovo. Becoming chairman of the militant group, he gained ideas from illegal literature on guerilla warfare by Mao and Che Guevara. Officially separate from the ANC, in later years MK became the group’s armed wing… Operating through a cell structure, the MK agreed to acts of sabotage to exert maximum pressure on the government with minimum casualties, bombing military installations, power plants, telephone lines and transport links at night, when civilians were not present. Mandela noted that should these tactics fail, MK would resort to “guerilla warfare and terrorism.” Soon after ANC leader Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the MK publicly announced its existence with 57 bombings on Dingane’s Day (16 December) 1961, followed by further attacks on New Year’s Eve.
The reason Mandela stopped being considered a terrorist, was mainly due to a music-centered PR campaign that insisted on making him a hero.
What of South Africa now? It went from being an unjust apartheid country that blacks emigrated into because of greater economic opportunity to a democratic country suffering “brain drain” from every ethnicity. Note that in this video about some Whites returning to South Africa it is admitted at the 1:10 mark that every population has been fleeing from the country, “Whites, Blacks, Indians, and everyone in between.”
In fact, South Africa lost virtually an entire generation of Whites. Digital Journal reports,
There are two main reasons for this demographic oddity: the relentless murder campaign waged by heavily-armed, well organised black male gangs against white farmers: the latest murder toll is 3,038; together with the mass exodus of white, working-age families from South Africa ever since 1994…
None of this makes Nelson Mandela the worst of men among politicians. But the revolting display of reverence and worship at his death cries out for some balance.