Since Nelson Mandela died last Thursday, 5th of December 2013, so many articles & comments are published and all government leaders over the world are praising this great man, I also want to spend a few words and memories.
But before doing so, I want to express my abhorrence of two messages I came across from countries where people are being tyrannized today similar as what happened during "apartheid" with the black people in South Africa during the last century.
President Bashar al-Assad from Syria says:
"His history of struggle has become an inspiration to all the vulnerable peoples of the world, in the expectation that oppressors and aggressors will learn the lesson that in the end it is they who are the losers."As the International Business Times writes:
"Assad's remarks have been welcomed with stinging criticism by opposition activists and critics saying the message is filled with irony"
And from North Korea, the last communist dictatorial country comes the next message, via AFP:
Seoul — North Korea on Saturday sent its condolences to South Africa over the death of Nelson Mandela, praising his "struggle against racism and for democracy" in the country.
Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the North's Supreme People's Assembly (parliament), sent a message of sympathy to South Africa's president Jacob Zuma, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Kim expressed "profound condolences" to the South African people and Mandela's family, it said.
The message marked North Korea's first official reaction to the death of the anti-apartheid leader.
Kim said in his message that "the feats performed by Nelson Mandela in the struggle against racism and for democracy in South Africa would always be remembered by the South African people and progressive mankind," the agency reported.
Kim expressed hope that "the South African government and people would register successes in their efforts to build a new, prosperous society as desired by the deceased under the leadership of the president", it said.
I have never seen a more hypocrite message than this one.
Early 1990 I went to South Africa (SA) for a business trip. Many people in the Netherlands were negative about my trip, as there was a kind of boycott for e.g. delivery of oil to SA, sport events, export of products like oranges, etc. It was called the anti-apartheid movement a movement organised by some political parties, but not an official government supported movement and policy.
One week was enough to see, feel and understand what apartheid really is. It is basically the same policy that was invented and implemented by the Nazi's in occupied territory during WWII to isolate the Jews from the the non-Jews.
Although I don't know anymore the exact travel dates, I do know that when I headed for SA Mandela was still in prison, but when I returned to the Netherlands he was free. I was there for ca. one week in Johannesburg and Pretoria. I guess it was from 12 to 18 February, 1990.
What I do remember is that one day we, my host and I, went to Pretoria (my hotel was in the center of Johannesburg) and that we watched a gathering of all black people, waiting to see Mandela. Shouting, singing, crying, all human emotions were uttered. I wasn't really aware that time what an important event I was witnessing.
I tried to find this event on the Internet, but couldn't find it. What I do know is that he was released from prison in Paarl, near to Cape Town and that he was brought there the same day to deliver his first speech, but I believe he returned to Johannesburg soon after it, probably the next day.
Just to give an insight in how he lived and acted, the following is an article from the internet site All Africa the article is titled South Africa: Mandela Inspires 'Fight to the Finish', written by Darren Taylor, and copyright by Voice of America.
On a cold March morning (1990), Jack and some fellow "comrades" arrived at the home of ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu in Soweto(1). They'd been advised to "work through" Sisulu in their efforts to get Mandela to Port Elizabeth.Nelson Mandela, rest in peace.
Jack recalls, "The old man, Walter Sisulu, was busy with his grandchildren - giving them coffee and tea and porridge, and washing some of them in a bath. And then who comes at the door? Nelson Mandela. What! Hey, hey! We couldn't believe this!"
Jack says Sisulu was very surprised to see Mandela, asking him, "What are you doing here at this time in the morning?" To which Mandela replied, "I took a walk, then someone picked me up on the road and gave me a lift here." Sisulu immediately admonished the ANC leader for his "carelessness," telling him sternly that to take such unaccompanied walks was a "big security risk," with various right wing groupings having threatened to assassinate him.
Soweto was a black township near to Johannesburg, during apartheid.
A very detailed historical overview of the apartheid period and Nelson Mandela can be found in O'Malley's work published on the following site. This is a must read if you are interested in this period of South Africa's history.