Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Mandela Myth

By: Shraga Elam
8 December 2013

The need for myths and idols to worship did not end with the formal establishment of monotheistic religions throughout much of the world. The inclination to seek to understand the world through myth is undoubtedly linked to limitations of our perception and as such it came into being through intellectual laziness, lack of courage and self-confidence, etc.
These things prevent us from coming to terms with knowledge that is partial and uncertain and leave us vulnerable to manipulation by various “experts” whose nakedness should be clearly visible to every child. It is almost natural to want to see things in a simplistic way, in black and white, the good guys vs the bad guys and so on. That may be comforting, but it of course is mostly incorrect.
The need to bow down and worship blindly and uncritically can be found not only among so-called religious people, but among avowedly secular people as well. As in cases of infatuation taken for true love, people take the plunge with inadequate knowledge and risk a very hard landing. Such “love” is portrayed in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which a few drops of potion on the eyes make a donkey look irresistible.
The worldwide myth built around South African leader Nelson Mandela seems fitting at first glance. After all, this was a man who struggled against Apartheid and paid the heavy price of many years in prison. Nevertheless he was apparently willing to forgive, in return for the dismantling of the Apartheid regime. In so doing he made possible the transition to a supposedly democratic system, and without any bloodshed. On the face of things this would seem to make Mandela a suitable object for eternal admiration and veneration, if not canonization.
However, a more thorough examination of the facts, some of which are not well-known, leads to the conclusion to which many “Blacks” in South Africa have come: Apartheid did not end in substance, only in form. To all appearances there was a dirty deal between Mandela and the Apartheid regime that rendered possible Mandela’s release from prison and the apparent accession to power of the African National Congress, while most of the figures behind the Apartheid regime merely backed away from centre stage and continue to pull the strings behind the scenes.
On the website of an organization called September National Imbizo (SNI), one can read:
A kiss from the ardent Apartheid supporter Shimon Peres
“We note that 1994 only extended apartheid under new management by the ANC.  We note that blacks continue to suffer and therefore there is need for a BLACK centred movement in society and the SNI has come to represent this possibility. What happened post 1994 was NOT the deepening of democracy;   rather, people and a political party that claims to represent the people came into political power. But for them, the people they were to serve were not us, the majority, but themselves and their families and those already privileged by colonialism and apartheid.  The people for them include big businesses (e.g. the mining houses and the banks) that were central to maintaining colonialism and apartheid and that continue to deepen inequality and anti-black racism today.”
Even the New York Times cannot ignore the problems in South Africa and the critical voices that are gaining support, especially in the universities. In an article in defence of Mandela, Prof. Zakes Mda writes that he did indeed have contradictions, but he was not responsible for the widespread errors and corruption and he was evidently a victim of the people around him, and on the whole, the government he led was a democratic one.
My research in Switzerland confirms the position of SNI. In a number of interviews I did with a colonel in the Apartheid army who found refuge in Switzerland, but no refuge from the atrocities he committed that rob him of sleep, he said that before the dismantling of Apartheid the army had managed to virtually destroy the military arm of the African National Congress. To this day he and his comrades cannot understand their “betrayal” at the hands of the White regime.
A wealthy Swiss whose father in his time was a prominent supporter of Apartheid confirmed to me in an interview that some leaders of the African National Congress have admitted in private conversations that they had been on the verge of collapse. But the man did not see any betrayal on the government’s part. From his account it emerges that the Apartheid regime saw a golden opportunity to exploit the weakness of the African National Congress and therefore decided to transfer the government to the hands of Mandela in order to create the impression internationally that Apartheid had been dismantled and thereby to encourage vital foreign investment, especially from the USA. However, that manoeuvre did not quite achieve the desired results and investments did not flow from North America. Presumably the effort to attract investment is ongoing. At any rate, this Swiss man told me how he accompanied Jacob Zuma before he was elected president and opened the doors of senior figures in the big Swiss banks for him. The objective was of course to get money, but they were not met with positive responses.
Significantly, my source has a great deal of property in South Africa and he lives in a villa in the most expensive area in Zurich. I consider him very trustworthy because he gave me information on a completely different subject: he admitted to me that his father bribed Robert Kennedy when was the attorney-general of the United States in order to release money of the German death conglomerate IG Farben that was frozen in the US. The deed was done through the Swiss bank UBS on behalf primarily of a group of investors that included Walter Floersheimer, who subsequently became a billionaire.
The process in South Africa around the “dismantling” of Apartheid is somewhat reminiscent of the Oslo process between the PLO and the government of Israel. For all the differences, they share one common element: like the South African Apartheid regime which exploited the weakness of the African National Congress, the government of Israel tried to exploit the precarious position the PLO found itself in after the Gulf War of 1991 in order to appoint a puppet regime. Arafat agreed to accept less than what had been offered to him in 1978-79, because in the meantime his situation had become desperate. Subsequently, after he was rescued, he tried to “walk between the raindrops” and to fulfill only part of the agreement, and since then there has been an impasse. In South Africa on the other hand, Mandela apparently fulfilled his part of the bargain in full, and he received a larger reward in return. Now he is being celebrated as one of the most important and venerated leaders in history of humanity. Another point of similarity: in both cases the leaders involved won the Nobel “Peace” prize.

Translated from Hebrew by George Malent

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