Flashback: Former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, left, addresses the crowd on May 1, 2004, at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, during his visit to Trinidad and Tobago. —Photo: MICHEAL BRUCE

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Keep Mandela’s revolution alive

 Many years ago, before Nelson Mandela was president of South Africa, before he was the darling of the Western media and before he was claimed as a role model by the president of the United States and the prime minister of Britain, he was our hero.

In those pre-Truth and Reconciliation Commission days when he was still in prison and denounced and reviled as a terrorist by the establishment of Europe and North America, he was our hero.

And he was our hero, simply because he was the most outstanding example that we possessed of a determined and implacable foe of the intertwined doctrines of “white supremacy” and “black inferiority”.

Nelson Mandela was the perfect example of a man who was utterly convinced of the inherent dignity of the black African person and irrevocably committed to a lifetime of struggle—non-violent and, where necessary, violent—to usher in a new regime of freedom and fulfilment for the oppressed black people of his beloved African continent.

Nowadays, it is popular (and permissible) for those who once reviled Mandela to make a show of embracing him. And they do so because Mandela did not seek to impose retributive justice on the whites of South Africa who were responsible for the unspeakable horrors of apartheid. They also do so because their white “kith and kin” in South Africa were permitted to keep the great wealth that they had illicitly amassed during the oppressive apartheid era.

Nelson Mandela was always a great humanist, a great believer in the concept of universal brotherhood. But let us get this right: when Mandela spoke about universal brotherhood, he was always very clear that a place of absolute and utter equality had to be reserved for the black or African people of the world. 

This son of the royal family of the Them­bu people of the Transkei region of South Africa was never in any doubt as to the inherent right of black or African people to dignity and respect, and to a just and equal share in all that their society and nation has to offer.

It would do us well to remember this and to reflect on the fact that we still inhabit a world in which black humanity is routinely devalued, denigrated and disrespected. Examples of this abound; one of the most current and poignant can be found in the recent stripping away of the civil rights of black persons of Haitian ancestry who reside in the Dominican Republic.

In other words, the revolution that Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to achieving so many years ago has not yet been completed. Nelson Mandela was nothing less than the pre-eminent strategist, moral guide and military commander of the forces that attempted to carry out that revolution. He played his role, and what a tremendous role he played.

Let us honour his memory by striving to complete that sacred revolution.


David A Comissiong

chairman, Caribbean Pan-African Network

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