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Remembering the real Mandela

December 11th, 2013

A right-wing pundit criticises what he regards as the one-sided eulogies uttered by western statesmen about the late South African leader and suggests that the truth, though less idealistic, is more interesting.
In Magyar Nemzet, Brussels correspondent István Lovas finds European Commission chairman José Manuel Barroso’s statement of condolence a collection of commonplaces and finds it also untrue, especially regarding Mandela’s alleged stance against violence. He argues against adapting Mandela’s life story to current politically correct expectations and recalls that the West has not always been such a fervent admirer of Mandela’s cause. The South-African apartheid regime enjoyed the complicity of the United States throughout the Cold War, as it was staunchly on the side of the West in its confrontation with Communism. Nelson Mandela for one, was on the other side of that barricade and on top of it all, did not at all oppose violence, for he found that peaceful resistance was fruitless. Lovas believes he was right in embracing violence, which is sometimes the only effective means of struggling against evil (just as it was in the case of Russian and French partisans against Nazi invaders). Mandela – along with Communist Party chief Joe Slovo – was one of the co-founders of the armed wing of the African National Congress party and as such was on the official terrorist list of the United States (even during and well after his 27 year prison term: he was only actually taken off in 2008 by President George W Bush).  After his release from prison, Mandela was an advocate of peace and reconciliation, but Lovas also quotes reports about his alleged deal with President Suharto of Indonesia who disbursed 10 million dollars to prevent him from campaigning on behalf of the East Timor independence movement. Nor does he forget Mandela’s friendly relations with Libyan dictator Moammer Kaddafi or Cuban Communist leader Fidel Castro. Finally he remarks that Mandela’s regime change has failed to produce a happy society: inequality is higher than before and crime is rampant, with “assassinations and robberies on the order – not of the day, but of the hour”. Nevertheless, he concludes, Mandela was a great man, and as such, was a complex personality. Lies do no justice to his memory.

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