It has come to my attention that it is not only the uninformed, delusional and perhaps ungrateful youth of the post-apartheid era which feels as though Mandela is not deserving of the title of a “struggle hero”. An encounter with a South African adult a few days ago shocked me out of my socks as she remarked, “What did Mandela do for us? All he did was sit in prison while the real heroes were dying outside. My heroes are people who fought and died fighting…Steve Biko Chris Hani. ”
I must stress once again how taken aback I was because, for as long as I have lived, I have only heard this kind of talk from young people who, ironically, are the born free generation. They are those who those who enjoy the fruits of the labour of struggle heroes and the benefits of the kind of leadership with which Madiba governed this country.
As for me, I don’t even bother to defend him to those who have been exposed to the same knowledge of the Apartheid era as I have, but continue to make deductions such as those of an uniformed person. Before, however, I would bring up the fact that a lot of struggle heroes were all for taking up arms and “showing the white folk who’s boss” after the assassination of Chris Hani. It was, in fact, Mandela, who had kept the country from breaking into civil war when Hani, the popular leader of the people, was gunned down in his driveway.
This is a post in which I refuse to write a lengthy piece trying to convince people that Nelson Mandela was indeed a peaceful man who fought both “white domination and black domination” as he said explicitly in one of his speeches and was evident in his actions. All I can do is gather the evidence and lay it out before and only hope that you will see things as I do.
And this is all I have to say in response…