The Man Who Didn’t Disappoint 113

Nelson Mandela was a rallying focus for any progressive thinker of my generation.  I attended numerous events of which the aim was to free Nelson Mandela.  I carried a torch through Edinburgh, danced round a bonfire in Dundee and talked to the startled tourists in Norwich cathedral, among other things.

That walk from prison came at a time when it seemed possible that the world would actually get better.  Walls were coming down, liberty was in the air.  All that was eventually to change and become a neo-con nightmare in Europe and a corruption nightmare in South Africa.  I remember even in the early eighties wondering what Mandela was really like.  How many people really knew him before he went to jail?  Certainly none who were demonstrating with me.  How had he managed to project a worldwide presence from decades inside a cell?  There was a real danger he would turn out to be a hideous disappointment, to have feet of clay, like – well at the time like Winnie Mandela was the obvious fear.

Indeed the rest of the ANC were in power to prove corrupt, elitist and grabbing.  I keep getting disappointed still.  I was astonished to see a statement last year from Cyril Ramaphosa effectively supporting the police who shot striking miners.  Mbeki had lost it before he took over.  In Europe, Walesa was a nightmare in government, and Havel a neo-con tool.  I never believed in Blair, but those who did were certainly deceived.  The greatest disappointment of all, however, was Obama, who turned out to be a smoother and more obediently ruthless front for the Orwellian security state than George W. Bush

Mandela is the only political leader who never failed my faith.  His philosophy and demeanour was Christ-like in its capacity for forgiveness and inclusion.  He really was everything those millions around the world hoped as they demonstrated for the better world that would be symbolised through his release.  The miracle of Mandela was that he never disappointed.

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113 thoughts on “The Man Who Didn’t Disappoint

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  • Dreoilin

    “THEM and US eh HB?”

    I’d be rather stuck without the word “them”, Doug. I mean, it also applies to the tea bags I bought and couldn’t find when I got home …

    And what about rugby matches?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    Time for a bit of ‘prose’ me thinx.

    A ‘ways back’ I bared a ‘contributor’ here from insight. That ‘contributor’ persists today ostensibly under cover of genuine criticism but actually breaking the ‘flow’ of conversation. It is of course the same axiom of ‘divide and spread chaos’ we currently observe in Iraq and Libya.

    Aware of software elimination by name a second contributor was introduced to form the perfect see-saw entertainment to further distract and dislocate. The classic dual ‘squirrel’ effect.

    Enduring and connected presence here are acquainted and mindful of the technique, some are not.

  • Passerby

    Enduring and connected presence here are acquainted and mindful of the technique, some are not.

    The tag team has been operating pretty regularly and has at times had more help too. At times the thread is a series of serial nonsense, that is spewed all in the aid of suppressing the truth, and giving a skewed and unrealistic snapshot of the ranges of opinions, and lines of thought.

    The team is here on a mission to distort the lines of communication, whilst portraying the current group think as the only prevailing “range of opinions”, that in turn feeds the imperatives of the tribe. The trend of “contributions” by these keyboard warriors are; get back into line and fall behind your government! Fact that those commenting here and elsewhere have long given up on the troughers, masquerading as their “government” makes little difference to the pusillanimous culprits on a mission. The tag team is out to catch the eyes of the occasional useful idiot, or the usual pundits, who will be sifting through to pick up the nonsense spewed, to validate the current counter productive and bombastic soundbites passed as “policy”.

  • Cryptonym

    I think one of the greatest motivators of people to act out of the ordinary or beyond expected or easily predictable -controlled behaviour, is false hope and subsequent betrayal; Blair, Cameron, Obama being blinding examples. We’ve learned that Edward Snowden donated some money to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign only for Paul to pull out of that race, leaving no credible (however repugnant and disastrous some of his policies would have turned out) alternative to the indistinguishable Democrat and Republican partners-in-crime.

    Clement Attlee delivered to a certain extent, otherwise the Labour party’s standing would have dissipated and never recovered, they’d never have never achieved government again and Britain’s simmering class war would have boiled over by the late fifties or early sixties, into insurrection and revolution, if pre-war inequality had not been temporarily relieved.

    It took till the early seventies for the flash in the pan that Labour represented, the bait and switch trickery to become apparent; has taken the intervening period for that heady brew of latent fury to coalesce again. Thatcher laid on fuel enough for an almighty inextinguishable conflagration, stirred the pot, and the Blair creature crept onto the scene to ignite the fuses. All that remains is to stand back, retire to safety and watch the show.

  • pilip t

    You are on great form … but who(m) is paying attention?!
    Phil t

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Abe,

    You say:-

    ” I grant you, he was a nice chap apart from holding hands with Col Gaddafi and calling him “My brathah leadah!”

    So – without Cuban and Libyan help, if one were to rely on the supportive that Thatcher and Reagan gave to the racists – we would still have Apartheid today and you would be a happy man Abe – because ” brathah leadah!” and Fidel had not assisted when critical assistance was needed. You tell me?

  • Passerby

    ”holding hands with Col Gaddafi and calling him “My brathah leadah!

    This all too apparent attempt in sullying the reputation of a man who despite the inhumane treatment that he was subjected to at the hands of his captors, never gave up to his humanity. This is an infantile and futile effort of an imbecile.

    Fact that Mandela ended the South African Apartheid and laid the grounds for the South Africans to shun the other apartheid regime in the mid east is a grave crime that those rooting for the apartheid regimes will never forgive.

    Seldom a man has commanded so much respect, and seldom a man has proved to be deserving of that respect, as in case of Mandela. Alas Mandela’s humanity also entails his mortality. However none can reduce the stature of the tall black man who broke so many shackles and prison walls, yet he preserved his humanity.

  • pilip t

    I was reluctant to be the 1 who posted the ($ub)orwellian room 101 posting on this blossg site/sight. Why i wonddeer?! Phil t ss

  • BrianFujisan

    The Hypocrisy Of the White house mob stoop to new Lows

    How dare this Phoney Nobel Peace prize winning War criminal Even think he can stand by the Ailing Mandela’s bed…if Mandela hasn’t the strength left in his ( GENUINE Nobel Peace Prize) Body, to tell Obama off…then.. Fuck that..Vile piece of Opportunism

    Anti-Obama Protests threaten to derail White House’s planned Mandela Photo-op

    In Pretoria, hundreds of people were demonstrating today against a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, burning the U.S. flag in protest and calling out Obama as “arrogant and oppressive”.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    His hands may have been tied to some extent by fears of a military coup or civil war if he made major reforms, but unfortunately he did disappoint badly in some ways. South Africa today is just as unequal and has just as much severe poverty as it did under Apartheid and the government is just as corrupt. The only difference now is that some of the government, the super-rich and the middle class are black and some of the poorest are white. The majority of black people in South Africa still live in dire poverty many without even clean water.

    Mandela also referred to the Ken Saro Wiwa case as an internal matter for Nigeria and kept approving arms sales to the Nigerian military until after Saro Wiwa was executed and it became a major media focus.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    I still think he’s basically a very decent person and he was already a pensioner by the time he was released from jail. Maybe he no longer had the energy left to do more than compromise as best he could.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Good posts, Duncan (10:33pm and 10:35pm). Yes, I agree. This was the time, remember, of US triumphalism – there was seen to be (and they and the UK/the West made damn sure there was) no alternative to neoliberal economics. The new trend in South America was some years away and China’s rise as a capitalist powerhouse was in its relatively early stages, the USSR/Russia was breaking up and in disarray. These are the major international geopolitical reasons why it was deemed safe to grant non-white South Africans their freedom at that historical juncture. The internal political chaos, of course, was making it more and more difficult for business. So it was a combination of things. Accordingly, Mandela was freed, yet he was not free. So, too, with the non-white working class South African majority. It’s called neocolonialism, with the construction of the usual native elites. Still, it’s sad that the senior cadres of the ANC proved so easily corruptible.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I’m not minimising the anti-apartheid struggle nor the terrible sacrifices of so many in the struggle, especially in South Africa itself. It is their struggle that has been betrayed and some of those doing the betraying also struggled; this is one of the ironies of human nature – but who am I to judge?

  • Flaming June

    Obomber goes to Robben Island and is ‘deeply humbled’. Has he ever visited Guantanamo, any of his SuperMax prisons or the prison where Bradley Manning was held, Quantico, or where he is now incarcerated, Fort Leavenworth?

    What a hypocrite he is with his empty rhetoric. Stop wasting fossil fuel Obomber and get back to where you belong, a country with its people leading unsustainable lives. All the air conditioners are going full blast at the moment consuming energy which has necessitated bloody wars for oil and dominance.

  • Richard

    Slightly off topic, but I see O’Bomber has been walking around Robben Island – presumably trying to pick up a few tips.

    “It all looks a bit mamby-pamby to me Michelle. Where’d they used to water board ’em?

  • N_

    I suppose you could call Mandela “Christ-like” with some justification if Jesus Christ had been born a morganatic royal, signed an enormous arms deal with the Roman Empire shortly after becoming president (the one Mandela signed was second only to al-Yamamah, I seem to recall – we’re talking massive kickbacks), welcomed Herod’s chief henchmen into his administration, and married his daughter upwards, into (non-morganatic) royalty.

    Mandela was probably an MI6 asset for decades.

    No, wait a minute, there was a denial: “I never visited the headquarters of any intelligence service,” he told the Guardian […].

    So that nails that one, then. What a nasty rumour against what an honourable man, eh?

    By the time he was arrested and jailed in August 1962, Mr Mandela had still not made contact with any British diplomat or agent: “I don’t think they knew I existed,” he said […].

    No, ‘course they didn’t, mate.

    Never mind the fact that life for most black people in South Africa hasn’t got any better since Nelson walked to the football stadium. Let’s not allow facts to stand in the way when we’re supposed to be recognising the messiah.

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