Mandela: long walk to freedom

Recently I visited an exhibition at Melbourne’s Museum of the struggle against apartheid through the eyes of Nelson Mandela. For those that can’t see the exhibit see below for some of the images I saw.

Contrary to the slogan ‘Victory is Certain‘ I think subsequent events have shown how limited that victory was under capitalism.

I thought the exhibition did not pull any punches. I had forgotten that Mandela was known to the apartheid regime as the Black Pimpernel. He studied and executed guerrilla warfare as his library at the time demonstrates (pictured).

However the curators did leave out one significant part of Mandela’s long walk to freedom. They omitted the reluctance of western leaders opposed to apartheid to bring any serious pressure to bear on the South African regime until they were sure that Mandela and the ANC were not going to pursue the Cuban road.

So they waited for the USSR to fall before they insisted that the regime negotiate with Mandela for a transition out of apartheid.

Of all the leaders of the 20th century Mandela best represents the transition from revolutionary violence to peace and reconciliation. I do not like the concept of ‘holy violence’ advocated by Franz Fanon where fascism is cleansed by the blood of its perpetrators.

The Algerian FLN went down that road and it simply did not work. The French brought in paratroopers from la salle guerre (Vietnam) led by an astute Lt Colonel Phillipe Mathieu and he exterminated all the revolutionary cells. It took a popular revolt in the Kasbah to rid Algeria of French colonialism (Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers).

We should not forget the vital role played by Winnie Mandela (recently deceased) during those long years Nelson Mandela was imprisoned

– Ian Curr, editor WBT.

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