Lest We Forget – The Truth about Nelson Mandela

Prisoner of the Past

by Aida Parker

 

(Published in The Aida Parker Newsletter, Issue No. 139, September/October 1990.  Mandela had been out of prison for some months)

 

  When Nelson Mandela walked to freedom in February [1990], he carried with him a heavy burden: worldwide fantasies about his supposedly marvellous statesmanlike qualities crafted during his 27 years in prison.  The mythology continued.  He was presented as virtual co-president of SA: the ANC as being in de facto coalition government with the National Party.

  Today, the halo is shrinking fast.  And nowhere more so than in Britain.  Much-feared London Daily Express columnist Jean Rook described Mandela as having “the small, grasping mind of an increasingly wealthy tribal headsman in a Rolls Royce… a prideful, awkward old man of 72 who has, in a mere six months of freedom, brought South Africa to the brink of a bloody Black war.”

 

Truth: Stranger than Fiction

by Aida Parker

 

(Published in The Aida Parker Newsletter, Issue No. 139, September/October 1990.  Mandela had been out of prison for some months)

 

  Of all publications, it has taken a rabidly leftwing US publication, The Nation, to point out the “contemptible hypocrisy” of official US attitudes to Nelson Mandela.  Entitled “Out of Africa” and authored by Andrew Kopkind, the writer makes his point by presenting Mandela’s real record and intentions.  This was done by introducing the editorial with an imaginary phone call from an immigration official to the White House:

 “This is Immigration,” the caller said to the White House liaison, with a hint of perplexity in his voice.  “We’ve got an African revolutionary here who’s been in jail for 27 years for sabotage and terrorism.  We helped to lock him up in the first place.  He’s in league with the Communists and he says he embraces Gaddafi, Castro and Arafat as comrades-in-arms.  He’s waging a violent struggle to take over his country, and if he wins he’ll nationalise the banks, mines and heavy industry and redistribute land and wealth.  And he says he wants to see the president in the Oval Office and address a joint session of Congress.  Shall we let him in?”

  The unbelievable did, of course, happen.  The African revolutionary was admitted and he did spend three hours in the Oval Office with the American President.  He also addressed a joint session of Congress, receiving several standing ovations.  Truth, as The Nation pointed out, is indeed stranger than fiction.