April 19, 2014

WHICH IS WHY WE COULDN'T GIVE THEM SOUTH AFRICA UNTIL WE'D WON THE COLD WAR:

What a lost prison manuscript reveals about the real Nelson Mandela : New light is shed on the president's politics, smoothed over in 'Long Walk to Freedom' (Rian Malan 18 January 2014, The Spectator)

Everyone thought Mandela was a known entity, but he turns out to have led a double life, at least for a time. By day, he was or pretended to be a moderate democrat, fighting to free his people in the name of values all humans held sacred. But by night he donned the cloak and dagger and became a leader of a fanatical sect known for its attachment to the totalitarian Soviet ideal.

When Ellis first aired this theory, it read like a Cold War thriller, but when Mandela died last month, the African National Congress and the SACP both issued statements confirming that it was true: at the time of his arrest in 1962, Nelson Mandela was a member of the SACP's innermost central committee.

This, then, is why Ellis and I were dizzy with excitement when the prison manuscript turned up last week: here was a rich new source of virgin material to be scanned for the smoking gun, the inside and untold story of Mandela's secret life as a communist plotter. Alas, the smoking gun was not there. But the prison manuscript does offer insights into the manner in which Mandela's image has been manipulated over the decades.

It is common cause that the ANC decided in the 1960s to use Mandela as the anti-apartheid movement's official poster boy. He was the obvious choice, a tall, clean-limbed tribal prince, luminously charismatic, married to the telegenic Winnie, and reduced by cruel circumstance to living martyrdom on a prison island. All you had to do was cleanse him of the communist taint and Bob's your uncle: four decades down the road, you have the president of the USA getting weepy as he describes Mandela's lifelong struggle for 'your freedom, your democracy'. There's no accounting for taste, but one wonders if Barack Obama would have said that if he'd known his hero batted for the opposition during the Cold War.

'I hate all forms of imperialism, and I consider the US brand to be the most loathsome and contemptible.'

'To a nationalist fighting oppression, dialectical materialism is like a rifle, bomb or missile. Once I understood the principle of dialectical materialism, I embraced it without hesitation.'

Ironically, the IRA, ANC & PLO are all beholden to Reagan and Thatcher.
Posted by at April 19, 2014 8:42 AM
  
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