Unmasked: Nelson Mandela

The heading of this article reminds me of “to be or not to be” passage in Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which Hamlet is musing on the comparison between the pain of life which he sees as inevitable and the fear of the uncertainty of death and of possible damnation of suicide. Nelson Mandela has indeed caused us the pain of life to the extent that perhaps some people are contemplating suicide.

The gist of Youngster’s article (“How Mandela sold out Blacks”) in a recent edition of one of South Africa’s dailies, that Nelson Mandela sold us out, is true. Youngster should have written his name and not hide under the veil of anonymity. Mandela did not start negotiating with representatives of the Apartheid government in 1985 as some people seem to think. He was released from Robben Island in 1981 alone and taken to Pollsmore Prison where he was bought new shoes and a suit was cut for him. He was removed from other political prisoners including those he was close to like Walter Sisulu and other Rivonia treason trialists. It was in 1981 that the process of secret talks and negotiations started in smoke-filled rooms where there was horse-trading.

Mandela made a lot of concessions during these secret talks which most of us regard as selling out. There was an article in the London Times in the early 1990′s in which PW Botha revealed that he was the person who initiated talks with Nelson Mandela and not FW de Klerk. He complained that De Klerk took credit for having initiated secret talks with Mandela when in fact he was the one who did that and asked why the South Africa’s Apartheid era intelligence service destroyed the tapes of the discussions he held in secret with Mandela. PW Botha challenged the De Klerk regime to make them public and to this day De Klek has not responded to PW Botha’s challenge. I am now asking De Klerk and those who say Mandela did not sell us out, where are those tapes and why were they destroyed? What are contents of those tapes?

In his book ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, Mandela mentions the meetings he held with PW Botha in secret which in a way confirms PW Botha’s story.There are stories making the rounds that prior to Mandela being taken out of Robben Island in 1981, he was occasionally being picked at night and brought back in the morning. To avoid exposing these secret liaisons with Apartheid authorities, Mandela was finally moved to Pollsmore prison.

Mandela found the PAC’s Jafta Masemola on Robben Island and left him there. So Masemola (may his soul rest in peace) knew a lot that is why he had to be killed unfortunately.There were reports that the late Govan Mbeki was not happy with what Mandela was doing and as a result there was a fallout between the two ANC leaders. Those who are observant should have noticed that when the late Mbeki was still alive he was never seen with Mandela. The same way the elder Mbeki was critical of Mandela for having left the country in 1961 and came back only to be arrested. Apparently other ANC leaders on Robben Island made up with Mandela and smoked the peace pipe. However, they did not approve of his secret talks with Apartheid authorities.

John Pilger writes in his book Freedom Next Time how ANC leaders in exile such as the late Oliver Tambo and Thabo Mbeki negotiated in secret in London with the white establishment who included Gavin Relly while Mandela did the same inside the country. It is my honest believe that Mandela sold us out. Now we are expected to celebrate his birthday and it is institutions of higher learning that are in the forefront of this gigantic fraud.

On Thursday (19 July 2012) evening on Motsweding FM, I disagreed strongly with academics and a student of the University of the North West who were purveying this humongous fraud of celebrating Mandela Day. They failed to answer my questions why we should celebrate this one person as if he was the only person who fought for our struggle for liberation, moreover a person who sold us out.

I said we had kings like Moshoeshoe, Sekhukhune who fought against white encroachment and other leaders who waged anti-slavery, anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist wars long before Mandela was born such as Tousaint Louverture of Haiti, Edward Wilmot Blyden, Marcus Garvey, WEB Du Bois and the founders of the ANC and asked them why we should ignore all these leaders and focus on this one man. I also asked why we should ignore other great South African leaders like Anton Lembede, Robert Sobukwe, Zeph Mothopeng, Jafta Masemola (who spent 9 years in solitary confinement on Robbben Island), Onkgopotse Tiro and Steve Biko and choose only this one man.These universities are being ridiculous and they must be ashamed of themselves. They are supposed to promote critical and independent thinking instead of pursuing partisan scholarship because this is exactly what they are doing.

By Sam Ditshego
(The writer is a senior researcher at the Pan Africanist Research Institute)