Thoughts on Mandela, the man and the myth of the Rainbow Nation

The statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Squ...

The statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square, London. Sculptor: Ian Walters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I lived in South Africa as an English ‘alien’, which is how we who weren’t born in that country termed. I was a child during most of Mandela’s pursuits and was present when my parents and their friends, all white people of course, talked about the events and I was curious. I asked questions.

It is true that that black African, Coloureds and Asians were kept down by the white regime. I saw it with my own eyes. As in most countries in Africa, peace among the people no matter what colour was wrought often through threat or deprivation, but the same is true in many countries in the world including the UK and the US.

Black people were not allowed to live in white areas. In fact none of the black Africans in the very south of Africa where I lived actually existed any more. The original tribe, called the Khoikhoi were extinct by that time. Only the Bushmen exist in small numbers and of course the Zulu who were much more numerous in the Transkei. Africans needed for work were transported in from the Transkei and neighbouring African countries. NONE of them were indigenous to the region. They were only indigenous to the continent.

They had to have permits to work for the white people and government, they were kept in certain areas and although many outside South Africa believed they were not offered education, in fact, this isn’t the case. Their children were given education, but only in the most basic sense. Many Africans, who are tribal by nature didn’t trust the white man’s form of education, it meant nothing to them.

As a child I saw immediately the basis for the unrest. Seats in public parks, on buses and trains were segregated, to my childish fascination, and labelled Blankes and Net Nie Blankes, i.e. whites and non whites, as were schools, public entertainment places and many shops. Although people of colour were allowed in most stores, it was frowned upon except in certain stores like OK Bazaars. This was something I did not understand, it wasn’t what I was used to. In England, although there was prejudice in the 60s, people of any colour were allowed anywhere.

My mother used to say, hush, these are the rules of the country we are living in and we must respect them while we are here. She never said whether she agreed or disagreed, even though she knew I was puzzled because I was discouraged to play with the son of one of the workers who was the same age as me. I didn’t grow up blindly accepting as my sister did, I thought a lot of it was unfair even at a very young age. “They’re just people, like us.” were my thoughts on the matter, although I rarely said them out loud, I was a child witnessing events that would reach a cataclysmic culmination.

Was Mandela a terrorist? It’s a word we bandy around very freely these days. If we see the Africans as people held to the yoke of a cruel Master and who fight in secret to be free and allowed no rights, then Mandela was a freedom fighter who did all he could to free his people, but make no mistake, Mandela may have genuinely visualised his Rainbow Nation, but unfortunately, those around him, like Jacob Zuma and the people of the ANC did not share his vision of a multicultural and multiracial society. And what’s more I think he knew that.

It was Francis de Klerk and Mandela who both realised that South Africa was heading into civil war who hammered out the basis of the new South Africa where everyone is equal and accepted and it was a good idea. De Klerk rarely gets any approbation for the courage it must have taken for him to go to Mandela cap in hand to plead for balance and peace in a South Africa heading towards being a killing ground.

The importance of this man is not so much what he did to get this freedom for his people, but what he didn’t do after he came into power. By then he was surrounded by very militant people, of whom the most militant was his ex wife, Winnie, who was a difficult woman with violent tendencies. Mandela knew that his name attached to her was being dragged through the mud, but you must ask yourselves just how many of the people around Mandela when he held office now absolutely hate whites with a passion. I don’t think Mandela did, I think he realised that the country needed people of all colours and education to retain the infrastructure until the black community could do it for themselves and they also needed contact with the white nations of the world, as well as those in Africa.

Unfortunately, the black people of South Africa spite of affirmative action in every walk of life; where in jobs the choice must be in this order: Black (whether they are educated or trained or not), Indian, Coloured and then White at the bottom of the choice pile  – are still in dire straits. There are still many black South Africans who adhere to the old ways of their tribal roots. They were promised many things… a vote which is something that is now strained because of the gangs from the ANC going round who threaten them with ‘vote for us or we know where you live’. They often offer food to poor voters. Food and a tee shirt if you vote for us.

Yes they have a vote and the appearance of democracy, but they are no better off than they were before. Where is the housing that was promised to them? Why are they all still living in shanty towns siphoning their electric from the main power lines, no toilets, no running water? It seems to me that if Mandela and his ANC were going to make lives a little better for their people, it’s been a helluva long time coming and still hasn’t got here. When visitors and tourists arrive in Cape Town International airport, they are treated along the motorway into the city by Crossroads, the tent city, which was there twenty years ago and is still there and still populated by people living in abject poverty. If the lot of the black South African is better now, why are they still there?

Oh it will take time people outside South Africa say, how much time? You can put houses up in six months, possibly less, they have had twenty years. Oh people choose to live there…. no… positively no. Nobody CHOOSES to live in squalor.

Oh it’s the white people’s fault, they’re prone to say, but it’s twenty years further down the line and the white South Africans are no longer in power. Most of them that were in power aren’t even in the country any more, or they are dead. The infrastructure of the country is dying, tourists don’t see that part. They stay in plush hotels and eat in good restaurants not even considering that the person who makes their bed and cleans their room may go back to a corrugated one room shack with a candle for a light. They go to romantic shebeens in townships and think they are experiencing the black South African in his true place. But the townships have no running water and are just ruins, whole big families living in one room, children in danger of being attacked and raped in their own home because many black African men believe that raping a virgin will take away or stop them from getting AIDS.

What kind of life is that for them, twenty years on in this Rainbow Nation? Why are they not better off, living in better conditions? You can only blame the white regime of apartheid for so much. They now have their freedom, the vote and democracy, so why is their lot still so bad?

Mandela at the end of the day was just a man;  a human being who was as flawed as any human being was and he himself freely admitted it in his book. Yes he committed what were termed as terrorist acts in the days before his incarceration on Robben Island, and he was responsible for ordering many deaths, from all areas of the South African population and for that he must pay the price and carry the guilt.

He also had to sit there after retiring from public life and watch, possibly in despair, while the ANC and their lackey in charge slowly destroyed and destroy the country and I can’t help feeling that the man must have wanted his time to end because what South Africa is now, was not his dream. Zuma and the people around him are determined in sending the country to hell and any white people should now plan to leave because the ANC party and government encourage the other black South Africans to believe that everything is the white man’s fault, even though it’s the ANC who are sending South Africa into bankruptcy, something which I think Mandela would have despaired over.

They have stated openly that they want the white people gone. They would never have done anything overtly about getting rid of the whites while Mandela was alive, he was too much of an icon, terrorist or freedom fighter, whichever you choose to believe he was, in the eyes of the world outside South Africa, but now, well let’s wait and see.

The country has become utterly corrupt under ANC rule. Government ministers enrich themselves more or less openly. After all, Zuma’s costly palace at Nkandla (millions of Rands while his people live in shanty towns)  tells us how the President behaves. Civil servants, teachers and the police are all massively corrupt. Community riots against poor service delivery occur once every two days. Mandela may join the ANC up in heaven — but the party down below seems hell-bent on destruction and woe betide any whites, coloured, asians, orientals or anyone not black who get in their way.


Thoughts on control, fear and mortality

Fear is the mind killer.  I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.[2] –  Frank Herbert, Dune.

Everyone is afraid of something, as a species we are afraid of everything, the dark, even the light, the enemy we cannot see, the friend who may be an enemy in disguise, the child that might not fulfil the dreams of the parent, the things that contain threats of violence or warnings which is the method of control used by governments. In the now it’s the threat of becoming a nonentity in our society. We are threatened with the loss of identity, homes, income. The loss of a place in society where we will be respected, not for what we are, but for what we possess. The government controls that through taking away our individuality. We become a number not a person. In doing that they control how we live, how we spend our money, how we interact with others and how that money that we make is taken from us ‘for the greater good of the society’.

In ancient societies we were controlled by the notion of an all seeing, all knowing deity. We were told we must obey or the consequences will be beyond horrific. If we don’t toe the line, we are condemned to the fiery pits of hell where we will be tormented for our audacity in trying to be our own person. If we are good and obedient to the societal strictures placed on us, we will be allowed to go to a mythical place where we will live in a state of grace, no longer troubled by the tribulations of pain, torment or old age. This is obviously a lot more attractive than the alternative.

 In primitive times, they feared the dark, because in the dark lay many things that were concealed. In the blessed light, everything could be seen, enemies detected, food and water found. Sun makes the animals healthy and crops grow. Blessed be the sun, we must give the sun its due otherwise it won’t come out. We must give homage to it otherwise the darkness will fall. So begins the notion of a god, or goddess, a being who can make the light shine and the darkness fall if we displease them. They can cause the crops to die, the disease to come, the children to die in the womb before they are born. They must be worshipped. So begins the notion of religion. The word religion is a word of forced application when used with respect to the worship of God. The root of the word is the Latin verb ligo,  from which comes religo, to tie or bind over again, to make more fast – from religo, comes the substantive religo,which, with the addition of n makes the English substantive religion.

The advent of technology and knowledge has reduced those fears, although they still exist in the collective consciousnesses that make up an individual. We are the sum of those consciousnesses that came before us. We are an organism made up out of myriad of teachings, actions and wisdom or lack thereof from the past. You are your mother, father, grandparents and so forth until the original person whose loins spewed forth your ancestors. Everything is passed down, nothing is unique. The only thing that is unique is how you deal with that information and in this everyone is different, but we are all still bound to some degree by the people who came before. We create the future even as we write or live in the present. Everything I write or say now becomes both the past and a future, not the only future because there could be many outcomes from someone reading these words, but it’s a future in a universe full of futures and full of possibilities for other futures.

We are taught to deny that mass consciousness that makes us who we are. We are taught that we are alone and yet we’re not alone, we carry the seeds of everything that was, and therefore everything that could be, within us. Because of this teaching that denies and the discouragement to search who we were, when we are faced with our greatest fears we have no knowledge base to deal with them and we are afraid, deathly afraid.

If we sit at the bottom of a very big mountain and we are told that we must climb it; that there is no going back, we have no climbing rope, no pegs to hammer in to give us a foothold and no hammer, our senses begin to quicken, our breathing becomes heavier as we contemplate the mountain with growing fear.

“But I don’t know how to climb mountains.” we wail.

We have no knowledge of this art. So we sit at the bottom of the mountain, we cannot go back and we are afraid to go on.

“I can’t do it.” we mutter and we sit and nurse our fears until they threaten to overwhelm us.

“Fear is the mind killer” , as a human author once said in a book.

Finally, “I can’t do it” becomes “I won’t do it”, so instead of moving on, albeit with a tremendous effort of mind and body, we stay where we are and bemoan our fate. We worry until death overtakes us and perhaps at the very end we panic because we know that we have left things unsaid that should have been said and said things that we know we should not have said and cannot un-say. We left things undone that should not have been left undone and it has finally undone us. We fear not leaving behind any footprints that indicated we were ever here and that our death means complete obliteration of who we are, were or would be.

“Fear is the little death that leads to total obliteration.”

Fear leads to control. When we perceive that we cannot move on or control our future, we then exert control over the things, events or people we can control. We won’t climb the mountain because we are afraid, but we see others have done it and we try to teach our own children that they must climb the mountain without even seeing that our own fear of moving on has been imbued in them by our teachings and example; in those teachings we pass on the fears that we possess ourselves and yet having not overcome those fears, we expect those who follow us to do what we cannot do.

English: Words associated with Fear

English: Words associated with Fear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We seek many ways to control our fears. We drink or take drugs, we immerse ourselves into religions and esoteric beliefs or the supernatural. We create machines that seem to give us the infinite futures and possibilities that we don’t have the courage to seek for ourselves in reality. Or quite simply we pretend they are not there and that by controlling the minutiae around us, we are effecting the demise of fear.

Instead it festers in the back of our minds and is nurtured to immense proportions, like the elephant in the room., and in our weakest moments it threatens to overcome us.

How do we overcome those fears then? I hear you ask. Usually it’s some kind of life altering event. The death of a child perhaps, because nobody should outlive a small child at the beginning of its life.

Not the death of a parent or grandparent, because those deaths are expected and prepared for. Life starts at birth, goes through the middle and ceases at the end. Everyone knows that. Vicious or instant and unlooked for death doesn’t even trigger the ability to overcome it, because having seen an accident or incurable illness and the inevitable death of others, we rarely learn from it. We still drive too fast, or take chances or ignore signs from our bodies that something may be very wrong and we truly believe that it will never happen to us.

 Facing death, the cessation of everything we are or would be is the trigger. We are then faced with the ultimate fear, the fear of not leaving behind anything of who we are, not being able to control anything, not being able to carry on thinking and acting on those thoughts. Death is the one thing we cannot control. Overcoming fear of death is the only control open to us.

You must face your fears, let them flow around you and through you until at the end, there is ONLY you left.

The human race is not made up out of individuals, we are an organism consisting of everyone that came before in our race memory. We are not alone, even in our darkest hour if we search through our minds and the deep memories we can find the necessary tools to move through life and climb our mountains, it’s just that so many people are too afraid to search.

One Fear illustration from Book of Fears

One Fear illustration from Book of Fears (Photo credit: Wikipedia)