Friday, December 06, 2013
A Real African "Big Man." Nelson Mandela R.I.P.
The death of Nelson Mandela has been commented on and will continue to be throughout the weeks ahead. I liked Max Boot's take here. http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/12/05/the-character-of-nelson-mandela/ He died at 95 years of age. He was born in to the colonial Africa of World War I. He was a still young man when South Africa imposed apartheid in the late 1940's. In fighting that system, he was to spend nearly 30 years on a remote rock of a prison island at hard labor. Over that time, one by one, the colonial empires shed their African possessions. As they did so the "Big Men" of Africa took over. These were rulers who had opposed (and sometimes fought) the colonial powers and then upon taking power too often became "Presidents for Life." They often became Soviet clients or at least allies in a latter day "scramble for Africa" this time as a backdrop of the Cold War. Almost all of them were socialists of one kind or another and almost all of them lead their country's to economic decline and tyrrany. First, the French, British and Belgians left the continent and finally, the first to arrive, the Portuguese, were the last to go after a revolution in the early 1970's. Through it all the lager held in South Africa. Eventually, even Rhodesia yielded to British, Commonwealth and world pressure a transition to universal sufferage was arranged and, after a brief interval, Robert Mugabe took over. A near contemporary of Mandela he immediately killed 20k of the Ndebele tribe and put them in mass graves. The world shrugged because he was not white. He still rules the renamed Zimbabwe. It is a sad, impoverished land the feeds on itself. Mugabe has ruled since the early 1980's. Compare South Africa, also a country with a large white minority, and also a country with a negotiated change to democratic rule. South Africa has its problems but they have not--over the past 20 years- involved mass slaughter, unmarked graves and tribal civil war. That that ocurred is almost wholly becuase Nelson Mandela decided to follow George Washington's example and not Nkruma or any of the "Big Men" of Africa. After a single term he left office. The decision to leave office, after setting up reconcilliation comissions, and not seize dictatorial power followed by expropriation and slaughter is almost wholly absent from post-colonial African history. I believe that it is a good thing the lager held until the fall of the Soviet Union which I believe made South African abandonment of apartheid possible without letting it fall into Communist hands. But Nelson Mandela is almost wholly responsible for South Africa not falling back economically and socially after mass suffrage was adopted. Zulu and other tribes, Indian "coloreds", Boer and English all live in the modern South Africa without war, expropriation or mass slaughter. After 50 years of apartheid that is a miracle. And Mandela was the miracle man who made it happen. R.I.P. Update-The comment below from JCC compels me to link to this from Deroy Murdock. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/365631/nelson-mandela-rip-deroy-murdock I did then and do now consider communism far worse than apartheid and far less of a threat as one was visibly shrinking and the other expanding until the mid-80's. Joseph Slobo, a Stalinist, headed the military arm of the ANC. The history of the African continent, Soviet expansion, and the unconcern of the Left when a black leader starts killing thousands of people lead me to believe South Africa would be the same. In point of fact I did not care one way or the other about Mandela in the 1980's. Slobo, a white Communist south African was the face of the ANC for me. And that was reason enough to want the Boers to outlast the Commissars. Which they did by two years to the benefit of South Africa's peaceful transition. But it still would not have happened without Mandela as Murdock notes.