To the Editor,
Thirty-three years ago, while attending my alma mater, the University of Buffalo, I did a one-hour oral presentation on the apartheid regime in South Africa for a political science course. I remember this project and all the preparation and research involved more than any other paper, assignment or examination I’ve done because of the riveting and horrific details of what black South Africans suffered at the hands of white Afrikaners.
During the presentation, I talked about how black South Africans were 87 percent of the population and lived on only 13 percent of the land. I explained how they had to have identification and permission to go from one township to the next. The conditions of black South Africans was beyond barbaric as far as living in dilapidated and deplorable housing in which there was often no plumbing or water and malnutrition and disease was rampant.
I also had a chance to learn about Nelson Mandela and his revolutionary stance against this evil and racist regime the Dutch imposed upon black South Africans. Unlike the racist and sub-human depictions of Africa by this country, Mandela came from a structured and proud royal family, despite the inhumane dimensions of apartheid.
In my presentation, I talked about how he was a lawyer who was a tall and imposing figure, unequivocal about the injustices his people were suffering. There were many attempts to ban him from practicing law. He was eventually tried for insurrection and was sentenced to prison unjustly for 27 years.
He may have softened as far as the magnanimity he displayed—“forgiving” the enslavers that put him and his people in a veritable hell—but he still opposed western policies, which colonized and maintained a neo-colonialistic relationship still in existence today.
While in prison, he was critical of Reagan’s policy of constructive engagement with this evil regime. He also criticized Israel’s support and profiting from apartheid in South Africa, in particular the mines in Soweto, where thousands of black South Africans were literally worked to death digging for gold. He also was very critical of U.S. imperialism and the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s for profit with the overthrow in 2003.
We should remember Mandela fought by any means necessary and the love he showed at the end of his life was a tool to combat the hate and brutality that tried to annihilate him.