No, Malaika, you weren’t liberated by Mandela

NO MALAIKA you weren’t liberated by Mandela. Mandela left your liberation up to you.

Shepard Fairey’s Purple Shall Govern mural erected on Mandela Day 2015

Mandela founded modern South Africa. He was a secularist, a bipartisan and non-sectarian. Primarily an attorney-at-law, he enacted a Bill of Rights as the first president of our country, but left crucial questions such as the economy and land issue up to future generations.

Expecting Mandela to have liberated you is like expecting Stephen Bantu Biko to have come to your rescue whilst in detention. Such myopic thinking attempts to dissuade the personal and private revolution that every one of us needs to engage in, so no the question of whether or not Mandela liberated anyone is purely rhetorical and need not be answered.

Even Mandela would agree that the struggle was conducted by ordinary people. Unfortunately Wa Azania, like so many people who were never a part of the freedom struggle, attempts to cast aspersions against the man, in so doing she undermines the aspirations and goal of freedom which Mandela did give us, some say we will never attain true freedom. By disparaging our founders enormous contribution to the struggle for human rights and freedom around the globe Wa Azania merely provides fuel to his critics and adversaries.

Criticising Mandela’s status as a pop idol whilst he was alive and able to defend himself is one thing. Criticising Tata after his death, when he cannot raise a defence, is bordering on support for the apartheid regime.

As a person who was placed on a list for attempting to check out a number of banned books by N R Mandela in the Jagger Library at UCT, I do take exception to the manner in which contemporary critics seek to undermine the central dilemma of any revolutionary fighting a revolutionary war against a larger and more powerful aggressor.

Mandela’s face was virtually erased by the apartheid Bureau for State Security. The meaning of Mandela the Man, is not about what any particular political party achieved or did not, or what was accomplished by various ANC administrations or not, but is rather an epic human battle for civil rights, a victorious struggle which lead to a “We, the People’ constitution.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela

As such, we must take Mandela’s contribution to the broader project of human rights for all people, as an unfinished work. Not by repeating the past and its mistakes, but by moving forward, in the broadening of individual rights and freedoms, and through the expansion and deepening of the project which is South Africa.

See my response to Zizek

See Malaika wa Azania’s article in The Independent.

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