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Herbert London: The Nelson Mandela Legacy

In life, Nelson Mandela was admired; in death, he is venerated. As time passes, his life story is evolving from hagiography to beatification. There is something to admire in a man who stood by his convictions and altered the course of history by destroying the hateful apartheid institution. But the Mandela story has been so sanitized, it has lost any relationship to the truth.

Mandela was a communist who lied about his party membership in order to confuse South Africans about his actual goals. Till his dying day, he admired Fidel Castro and the Cuban leadership overlooking their crimes and the police state they built.

Some might say even if Nelson Mandela was a communist, it doesn’t matter because communism collapsed. Those rationalizers do not know what has happened and is happening in South Africa. The ruling (ANC) African National Party is a front for the (SACP) South African Communist party. Jacob Zuma a high ranking SACP member is the current South African president. As Zuma noted in a recent speech: “You need to have a clear understanding of dialectical and historical materialism. You need to be armed with a theory of the working class Marxism Leninism. You need to understand this theory as a guide to action.”

Remarkably, the popularizers of the Mandela myth overlook the plight of the poor blacks Mandela vowed to assist. Intimidation and anti-democratic methods are routinely used against those who have the temerity to stand up to government police tactics. Mandela also received worldwide acclaim for resisting attacks on the minority white population when he seized power. Overlooked in the midst of applause are ANC banners in a recent rally saying the “Honeymoon is over for white people in South Africa.”

In addition, to his communist affiliation, Mandela has a curious group of luminaries he admired including: Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat, and MuammarGaddafi. The hero worshippers never cease to ignore this fact.

It isn’t the only fact ignored by the mythmakers. At one point, Mandela recruited Joe Slovo for the armed ring of the ANU in a campaign of sabotage. Slovo, accompanied by a small group of well-trained explosives experts, was dubbed “the KGB colonel” and was considered by many analysts to be an agent of Soviet intelligence.

Mandela continually denied being a Communist Party member or sympathetic to communism. He even went so far as to suggest he was “an anti-communist.” This artful dissimulation was designed to dupe foreign audiences, particularly the Western hero worshippers. Of course, they believed this propaganda.

U.S. and European press corps members are complicit in the creation of the legend. They exalt the hero and ignore the damage. They ignore the death of Savimbi and pretend that Namibia and South Africa are free. They ignore Cuba’s presence in Africa and Mandela’s role in enhancing that influence. They praise Mandela as a reconciler, but ignore his rejection of the (IFP) Inkatha Freedom Party that advocated the abolition of apartheid, but refused to engage in violence against innocent people. It was also anti-communist.

For the Obama administration, history doesn’t count. The U.S. government presently provides $500 million of aid to the present regime. Money is being raised for the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory, a center for very selective memory.

For the naïve hero worshippers, nothing can excoriate the memory of a legend superordinated into demigod status. It would be one thing if Mandela’s compromises, however dubious, resulted in a free, prosperous nation where corruption didn’t exist. But the reality is a South Africa with dictatorial control and the exploitation of the poor.

So much for the real Mandela legacy.

Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at www.londoncenter.org

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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