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Love Comes More Naturally To The Human Heart: Nelson Mandela

By Diane V. McLoughlin

27 July, 2011

It was only three scant years ago, on July 1, 2008,
that United States President George W. Bush signed a
bill dropping America's terrorist designation against
Nelson Mandela. That he was ever considered a terrorist
at all is a glaring example of the hypocrisy of states'
craft. Too often, centers of power hang together because
it is convenient - not because it is right.

Certainly there are many historical parallels in hypocrisy.
America's founding fathers, for example, were considered
criminals and traitors in their day for rejecting the
oppressive yoke of the British Empire, all the while
decimating the native peoples, putting those few native
Americans who survived under the yoke of occupation.

I had a personal awakening as a university student
regarding the struggle against South African Apartheid.
In particular, the story of Nelson Mandela's personal
sacrifice for human rights was very compelling to me.
At that time, Mandela was still a political prisoner,
held captive on South Africa's Robben Island.
One day in the university library, I brought down
a nondescript book from a random shelf. Upon reading
the first few words, I sunk to the carpeted floor
between the long rows and shelves, in the sudden
and unexpected presence of the profound:

I was free...Mandela ought to be as free as me,
as equal as me, free to be whatever he wants to be,
as I was, but he wasn't;
because of the color of his skin.

Terror is the use of violence to try to create and
maintain a political reality. For twenty-seven years
of his life, Nelson Mandela was a victim of state
terrorism. He was locked in a tiny jail cell.
He did hard time doing hard labor. After many
prisoner protests, prisoners, including Mandela,
were permitted to study, and Mandela took full advantage.
He earned his Bachelor of Laws from the University of London
during his incarceration. He encouraged other
prisoners to study, as well. Yet, his bed was a
thin woven mat upon the hard ground. His window
was concrete-embedded steel bars.

The United States played a role in Mandela's
capture and arrest. The CIA uncovered where
he was in hiding and tipped off the Apartheid regime.
For what? What was his crime? Mandela held the
bedrock conviction that we are all created equal.
He preferred peaceful means of achieving freedom,
but if all else failed the ANC and Mandela
reserved the right to fight. But fight what, exactly?

The system of apartheid - 'apart' - that Mandela grew
up in was a racist violent system run by a minority
who were Dutch, German and British descendants.
They believed themselves superior to blacks.
This conviction of superiority is always part and
parcel of any form of colonialism.

The Bantu Education Act is a dark example of apartheid law.
The author, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd (who would later
be elected Prime Minister) indicated that the purpose
of the Act was to prevent blacks from aspiring to
work at skilled jobs. Education of blacks was to
provide them with basic skills to prepare them for
work in menial jobs for whites. [1]

It is shocking to note that most of the laws
underpinning the apartheid system came into being
after the Second World War and that western countries
(for example, Great Britain, the U.S., and Israel) -
did business with Apartheid South Africa.

One way that apartheid was fought was that,
around the world, civil society organized
world-wide boycotts against the apartheid regime.
Citizens encouraged their respective countries,
businesses, and educational institutions to tow the boycott line.

In 1994, Mandela, still designated a terrorist by the U.S.,
in the nation's first democratic election, became
South Africa's first black President.

A year after Mandela's presidential inauguration
he gave his'Long Walk to Freedom' (1995) address.
In it, he shared his fundamental conviction, delivered
in a message of hope:

'No one is born hating another person because of the
colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate,
they can be taught to love, for love comes more
naturally to the human heart than its opposite.'

The dark clouds of racism and war swell ominously
on the horizon today. Nelson Mandela's heartening
message is more timely than ever, and it is his
lived experience; from oppressed political prisoner,
to president of a nation that aspires to be a rainbow
nation of many colors, free from oppression,
discrimination and fear.

Nelson Mandela was born July 18, 1918.
In 2009, the U.N. declared July 18th to be
'Nelson Mandela International Day' in his honor.
Celebrating his 93rd birthday this year,
there were songs sung by children's choirs,
while others happily reported marking the day
doing good deeds of community service.

Diane V. McLoughlin is a writer and peace activist.
Ms McLoughlin posts editorials of her own along with
recommended links to articles and video, at her website,




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