Many years ago – before Nelson Mandela was President of South Africa;
before he was the darling of the Western media; and before he was
claimed as a role model by the President of the United States and the
Prime Minister of Britain – he was OUR hero!
In those pre-Truth and Reconciliation Commission days – when he was
still in prison, and was denounced and reviled as a terrorist by the
Establishment of Europe and North America – he was our hero!
And he was our hero simply because he was the most outstanding example
that we possessed of a determined and implacable foe of the
intertwined doctrines of “white supremacy” and “black inferiority”!
Nelson Mandela was the perfect example of a man who was utterly
convinced of the inherent dignity of the black African person and
irrevocably committed to a lifetime of struggle — non-violent and,
where necessary, violent –to usher in a new regime of freedom and
fulfilment for the oppressed black people of his beloved African
Nowadays it is popular (and permissible) for those who once reviled
Mandela to make a show of embracing him. And they do so because
Mandela did not seek to impose retributive justice on the Whites of
South Africa who were responsible for the unspeakable horrors of
apartheid. They also do so because their white “kith and kin” in South
Africa were permitted to keep the great wealth that they had illicitly
amassed during the oppressive Apartheid era.
Nelson Mandela was always a great humanist- a great believer in the
concept of universal brotherhood. But let us get this right – when
Mandela spoke about universal brotherhood he was always very clear
that a place of absolute and utter equality had to be reserved for the
black or African people of the world! This son of the royal family of
the Thembu people of the Transkei region of South Africa was never in
any doubt as to the inherent right of black or African people to
dignity and respect , and to a just and equal share in all that their
society and nation has to offer.
It would do us well to remember this, and to reflect on the fact that
we still inhabit a world in which black humanity is routinely
devalued, denigrated and disrespected. Examples of this abound – one
of the most current and poignant can be found in the recent stripping
away of the civil rights of black persons of Haitian ancestry who
reside in the Dominican Republic.
In other words, the Revolution that Nelson Mandela dedicated his life
to achieving so many years ago has not yet been completed! Nelson
Mandela was nothing less than the pre-eminent strategist, moral guide
and military commander of the forces that attempted to carry out that
Revolution. He played his role – and what a tremendous role he played!
Let us honour his memory by striving to complete that sacred
David A. Comissiong
President, Clement Payne Movement
Chairman, Caribbean Pan-African Network