A Man of Character and Principle
(FinalCall.com) - The world has been inundated with media coverage of Nelson Mandela since he passed away on Thursday evening, December 5, 2013. There was a tremendous outpouring of praise and kind words about his leadership, character, and contribution to the world.
However, conspicuously absent and neglected in the coverage was Mandela’s friendship with leaders and individuals who the Western world frowned on and had political problems with. Leaders who “Madiba”—as Mandela is also called—stood firm with on the principle that no county, no party and no individual will dictate to him who his friends and associates should be or who he should have solidarity with.
According to people who attended Mandela’s swearing-in ceremony on May 10, 1994, as the first Black president of South Africa, the loudest cheers from the crowd was directed at Cuban leader Fidel Castro and the late Brother Leader Muammar Gadhafi of Libya. Hypocritically the Western nations are now embracing and speaking of the greatness of Nelson Mandela but in the past have always attempted to find a way for him to distance his friends; especially those friends they deemed terrorists, communists or trouble makers. One example was with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, National Representative of the Nation of Islam in America. During a 1996 World Friendship Tour after the Million Man March, Minister Farrakhan made a visit to South Africa. He was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—then called Zaire—meeting with its former president Joseph Mobutu Sese Seko when a message came that Nelson Mandela would receive Minister Farrakhan.
Those who follow dynamics on the African continent will remember this was the period of time when President Mobutu was kicked under the bus after serving America and the West as a faithful puppet, even in their fight to uphold the apartheid regime that was oppressing and killing Black people in South Africa.
To show the character and how Mandela was principled, when Minister Farrakhan could not keep the schedule President Mandela requested because of a problem with our plane, President Mandela adjusted his schedule and waited to receive Minister Farrakhan.
We had received reports that those around President Mandela, including some of his top advisors, did not want him to meet the Muslim leader. Minister Farrakhan and President Mandela had an excellent private meeting at his home in the Houghton District of Johannesburg. When they emerged from their meeting in front of the world press, Nelson Mandela said, “We did not find anything that we disagreed on.” President Mandela was gracious, warm and very respectful of the work Minister Farrakhan was doing in America and worldwide.
It was clear that his principled position and character was not new.
In a nationally televised town hall meeting with Mandela at New York’s City College on June 21, 1990 hosted by famed journalist Ted Koppel, Mandela was questioned about his relationship with Fidel Castro of Cuba, Muammar Gadhafi of Libya and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Mandela retorted, your enemies are not necessarily my enemies, dismissing the idea of those relationships as a common “mistake” of subjective political analysts. Mr. Mandela refused to compromise on African National Congress solidarity with its historical friends, demonstrating character and principle, comradeship and loyalty to those who helped the struggle he led for self determination. As for the American government, it has been exposed that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence departments assisted the repressive apartheid regime of South Africa in apphrending Nelson Mandela.
I am hoping that America could show character and take a principled position by apologizing to Mandela, the African National Congress and the South African people for years of taking an unprincipled position in supporting the racist apartheid regime that caused millions of Black people to suffer and die.
(A. Akbar Muhammad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Final Call
Nelson Mandela, the beloved freedom fighter, onetime political prisoner and president of South Africa, has departed this life. We thank Allah (God) for his life, his yet unfinished work and our challenge is to complete his task. Part of completing that task lies in understanding the man, the mission, challenges he faced—and challenges his beloved South Africa faces to have a full and complete freedom.
To accomplish that, we cannot, must not, allow the revisionist mainstream media to mis-define and feed us a homogenized version of a man of principle, a man tied to a movement and a man who lived for a cause.
The enemy loves to define and to mis-define, to raise and to debase, to subvert and to subsume. He skillfully uses media and what should be a free press to accomplish that goal. He reduces Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr., to a “Dreamer,” not an anti-war and anti-poverty stalwart. The enemy reduces Minister Malcolm X to “by any means necessary” and separates him from the teacher and body of knowledge that transformed Malcolm Little into a powerful Nation of Islam minister, a Muslim and a Black Nationalist. The enemy tries to miscast the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who raised Minister Malcolm X and others, by not talking about him at all, trying to white-out the work and life of a man who raised Black people to incredible levels of consciousness through spreading knowledge of self, Black divinity, self-development and self-respect. The Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad opened eyes, ears, hearts and minds, inspiring independent thought and courageous action by his followers and others indirectly and directly touched by his powerful messages. There would not have been a Black Power movement in America, a movement joined by Black people throughout the earth, if not for this little man from Georgia. The enemy tries to cast a veil over the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who has rebuilt Elijah Muhammad’s work, by falsely casting him in the role of hater.
What of “Madiba?” Today so many journalists, Black and White, shed tears and proclaim how great this man was. But what is their history? “With the nearly unanimous accolades Nelson Mandela has received since he was released from prison in 1990, it might be difficult to remember the difficulties the anti-apartheid struggle had in securing media attention in the United States,” observed writer Richard Prince is his Journal-isms column.
He recounts how the American media followed the lead of the U.S. government and its designation of Mr. Mandela and the African National Congress as terrorists. So you may find a plethora of photos and references to Mr. Mandela around today, but for many years no image was seen of him because the terrorist White-minority South African government, America’s beloved partner and friend, banned any images of Mr. Mandela and banned artists like Hugh Masekela, who paid tribute to the jailed freedom fighter in song.
“For many years, the US media treated Mandela as a communist and terrorist, respecting South African censorship laws that kept his image secret. Reports about the CIA’s role in capturing him were few and far between. Ditto for evidence of U.S. spying documented in cables released by [WikiLeaks]. In the Reagan years, his law partner Oliver Tambo, then the leader of the ANC [African National Congress] while he was in prison, was barred from coming to the U.S. and then, when he did, meeting with top officials. Later, Dick Cheney refused to support a Congressional call for his release from jail,” recounted Mr. Prince, quoting a documentarian.
“A 1988 concert to free Mandela was shown by the Fox Network as a ‘freedom fest’ with artists told not to mention his name, less they ‘politicize’ all the fun. When he was released ... a jammed all-star celebration at London’s Wembley Stadium was shown everywhere in the world, except by the American networks. . . .,” the column continued.
These lies and distortions left telling the story of the apartheid struggle and the plight of Nelson Mandela to Black and progressive media—like the Nation of Islam’s Muhammad Speaks newspaper. This stalwart of Black journalism put the plight of the Black man and woman in South Africa front and center. Likewise when Mr. Mandela was released from prison and toured the United States in 1990, speaking at the United Nations, then Final Call editor Abdul Wali Muhammad was one of few in the crowded room of journalists to ask a question. He didn’t ask the usual question, which at that time was about African National Congress support from Libya, Cuba and Palestinian “terrorist” groups. What was Mr. Mandela’s position on reparations for Blacks in America? asked the fearless and brilliant Final Call editor. (May Allah God be pleased with him). Mr. Mandela answered the question directly, saying he and the ANC would be willing to be guided by the desires of their brothers and sisters in America.
It was the U.S. media that focused on violence ostensibly between the Zulu-based Inkhatha Freedom Party led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the African National Congress, and questioned what the ANC would do about it, instead of focusing on the hidden hand of the apartheid regime in orchestrating the violence. It was the U.S. media that carried the conservative message that Mandela and the radical ANC were communists and hence a threat.
It was the U.S. media that tried to destroy the image of freedom fighter Winnie Madikizela–Mandela, trying to position her as an extremist and parroting charges of crimes lodged by and convicted by the same courts and “judges” who jailed her husband for nearly 30 years, banned her, isolated her and jailed her as well.
We don’t need narratives or niceties, fairytalish-kumbayas and lies. We don’t need revisions of history, we need the actual facts. We can learn lessons from the past, if we deal with what actually happened. Otherwise, we are lost, dazed, and powerless. True history not only inspires, it teaches lessons from the past to change the future. Lies only doom and confuse us. We need the truth and we cannot depend on those who have lied to us to tell it.
Richard B. Muhammad, editor,
The Final Call