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Document: Israeli Spy Agency Trained Young Nelson Mandela.

Israel’s state archives has published a 50-year-old letter from the Mossad spy agency that says the agency unknowingly offered paramilitary training to a young Nelson Mandela, along with documents illustrating the Jewish state‘s sympathy for the anti-apartheid struggle in the 1960s.

The release of the documents on the archives’ website in the wake of Mandela’s death appears to be aimed at blunting criticism of the close alliance Israel later developed with South Africa‘s apartheid rulers.

Israeli relations with post-apartheid South Africa remain cool. The South African government is a fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause, and the Palestinians frequently compare their campaign for independence to the racial struggle that ended apartheid.

Early this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was conspicuously absent from the dozens of world leaders, including President Barack Obama, who attended Mandela’s funeral. In a decision that was widely criticized, the globe-trotting Netanyahu cited the high cost of chartering a plane and bringing a large security detail.

The newly published Israeli documents from the 1960s, released days after Mandela’s death on Dec. 5, highlight Israeli officials’ voices against apartheid and their attempts to rally international pressure on the South African government to stop the 1964 Rivonia Trial, in which Mandela was sentenced to life in prison.

But perhaps most startling is the memo, first revealed by the Haaretz newspaper over the weekend, saying Mandela received paramilitary training from Israeli handlers in Ethiopia in mid-1962 — without their realizing who he was.

In the 1960s, Israel actively courted Africa’s post-colonial leaders in a search for allies. It sent scientists and other experts across the continent — and the memo suggests it was running a military training program for fighters, though the scope of the program is unclear.

After the 1973 Middle East war, when, under Arab pressure, dozens of African countries broke diplomatic ties with Israel, the Jewish state formed close military ties with South Africa’s apartheid government.

The Oct. 11, 1962, memo, labeled “Top Secret,” suggests the Israeli trainers thought the man they later discovered to be Mandela was from Rhodesia — now Zimbabwe — where African nationalists at the time were struggling against colonial rule.

According to the memo, a man named “David Mobsari who came from Rhodesia” met with officials several months earlier at the Israeli Embassy in Ethiopia, expressing interest in the tactics of the Hagana, the pre-Israel Jewish resistance movement against British rule.

“He greeted our men with ‘Shalom,’ was familiar with the problems of Jewry and of Israel, and gave the impression of being an intellectual,” the letter says. He received training in judo, sabotage and light weapons, it said, adding that the “Ethiopians” — an apparent code name for Mossad agents there — “tried to make him into a Zionist.”

Only after Mandela was arrested and his picture published did the Israelis determine his true identity, the letter says, referring to him as the “Black Pimpernel,” a widely used moniker at the time.

“It now is clear, through photographs published in the media on the arrest in South Africa of the ‘Black Pimpernel,’ that the trainee from Rhodesia introduced himself with an alias and that the two are the same,” the letter says. Handwritten notes scribbled on the letter 13 days later say his real name is “Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, an official organization dedicated to promoting Mandela’s legacy, has questioned the account. While confirming that Mandela toured African countries that year and even received military training in Ethiopia, it said there was no evidence he had any contact with Israelis.

“In 2009, the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s senior researcher traveled to Ethiopia and interviewed the surviving men who assisted in Mandela’s training. No evidence emerged of an Israeli connection,” it said.

The national archives posted the letter Sunday after the report in Haaretz, which said it obtained the document from a former graduate student. The ex-student, David Fachler, said he found the letter while conducting research a decade ago and showed it to the newspaper after Mandela’s death.

According to other documents released by the archives, Israel maintained a strong interest in Mandela’s well-being after his arrest and throughout the Rivonia Trial, in which he was convicted of sabotage in 1964.

According to the archives, Israel also had an interest in the case because about one-third of the defendants were Jewish and Israel feared the case could spread anti-Semitism in South Africa.

One letter, dated April 21, 1964, and written by Azriel Harel, an Israeli diplomat in South Africa at the time, called for rallying international opinion to prevent the Rivonia defendants from receiving death sentences. He also suggested that an economic boycott of South Africa be considered.

“Perhaps the economic value of the boycott is little, but its psychological or publicity value is high, one that strongly affects public opinion, and that is the way that maybe should be continued, in addition to all the rest of the means to force South Africa to retreat from its racist policy,” he wrote.

A Foreign Ministry document dated May 18, 1964, discusses efforts to recruit Jewish philosopher Martin Buber and Israeli author Haim Hazaz to sign a declaration in support of the Rivonia defendants.

The letter, published in English two days later, calls on South Africa to release them, saying, “Shed not the blood of men and women who seek only to hold up their heads in dignity.”

Another document includes comments in the Israeli parliament by then-Foreign Minister Golda Meir voicing her objections to apartheid.

Another letter written by Harel in March 1965 laments the plight of Mandela’s wife, Winnie, after her husband is imprisoned and she is placed under heavy restrictions.

“Her family’s source of income has been deprived,” Harel wrote. “It is advisable to spread this information and provide means of income for her and her children.”

Alon Liel, who served as Israel’s ambassador to South Africa in the early 1990s after Mandela’s release from prison, said Israel’s courtship of African leaders in the 1960s is well known. He said the young Jewish state was in search of allies.

“Also, there was a policy that Israel will be a light onto the nations,” he said.

Yaacov Lozowick, Israel’s state archivist, said there was no political agenda behind the publication of the documents. He said the archives often publicize documents that may be “interesting” in connection with current events, such as Mandela’s death.

But he said it was possible that staffers were aware of Israel’s strained relations with South Africa and searched for something more positive.

“I didn’t ask them. They didn’t ask me. But it’s very likely. Yes. That’s human nature. But was it damage control from the prime minister’s office? Definitely not.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mandela’s Legacy As Health Campaigner By Evelyn Tagbo.

By Evelyn Tagbo

It’s not often that we see politicians celebrated the way former South African president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has been celebrated the past two weeks.  As I watched the remains of the 95-year-old activist committed to mother earth last Sunday, something in me wished we had him a little longer.  Many in South Africa would wish same. But alas Madiba’s long walk to freedom has ended.

For quite some time now, South Africans battled with the difficulty of dealing with the prospect of losing the man who not only led the country out of apartheid but saved it from the precipice of a civil war.  So deep is the affection for Mandela among South Africans of all races that the thought of his death seemed incomprehensible.  It seems too high an aspiration to place on one individual, but in the eyes of many in Africa, Mandela represents hope, freedom and peace, virtues that are very short supply on the continent.

Mandela stands out as a human rights icon and a remarkable lesson in leadership. In no other part of the world is that lesson most needed today than in Africa. In many ways, what Robert Mugabe is today in Zimbabwe is what Nelson Mandela could have been in South Africa; but he chose a different path. He opted for reconciliation, reconstruction and restoration and in doing so united a broken nation. His life and the causes that he lived for resonates among people of all race, creed and persuasions.

The Mandela style is a message to tyrants everywhere that there is a greater honor than hanging on to power at all costs. In fact, it teaches that you can gain more power by giving power away. I can only imagine where Africa would have been today if the likes of Gaddafi of Libya, Omar Bongo of Gabon, Yaya Jameh of The Gambia, Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and Mugabe of Zimbabwe had towed the Mandela path.

For the science community in Africa, Mandela would be remembered among other things, for his contributions to the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS.

In a continent with a history of poor leadership in the response to the epidemic, Mandela stood out in his ardent campaign for scientific solutions to combating the spread of disease. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to two-thirds of the world’s HIV-positive people, and more than 80% of the AIDS deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

Though recent progress has been made, HIV/AIDS continues to devastate Africa’s most productive population. The vast majority of people living with HIV/AIDS on the continent are between the ages of 15 and 49 – in the prime of their working lives.  With 75 per cent of Africa being under 35 years of age, it’s obvious that the disease isn’t just a challenge of the present but a threat to the future.

Among factors that have led to the rise of HIV/AIDS in Africa are ignorance and indifference on the part of political leaders. Many in Africa still view AIDS as ‘American Invention to Discourage Sex’. Unfortunately, South Africa’s incumbent president, Jacob Zuma and his immediate predecessor Thabo Mbeki fall within this category.

During a rape trial in 2006, Zuma infamously stated that taking shower after sex helps to minimize the risk of contracting HIV. In a region where unprotected sex is thought to be the main way in which AIDS is spread, no one can truly tell how many young people Zuma’s theory on AIDS have made victims. At least 28 percent of schoolgirls in South Africa are HIV positive according to the country’s health ministry.

Mbeki, another AIDS denier, did even worse damage. “Mbeki announced repeatedly throughout the late 1990s that AIDS was not fatal, that HIV did not cause AIDS, that home brew treatments could cure AIDS and that life-saving antiretroviral drugs were being promoted so the West could profit at South Africa’s expense,” recalls Arthur Caplan, head, Division of Medical Ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center.

According to a Harvard University research, his retrogressive AIDS policies led to the death of 330,000 South Africans. Mbeki’s policies, influenced largely by “denier” scientists such as University of California’s Peter Duesberg, led him to reject offers of free antiretroviral drugs and grants that could have saved the lives of many South Africans. Soweto’s largest cemetery has up to 800 funerals every month, and they’re running out of room. The majority of the fresh graves are for AIDS victims, according to CBS News.

Mandela was late to embrace the fight against HIV/AIDS. “In 1990, when Mandela was released from a 27-year prison sentence, the rate of HIV infection among adult South Africans was less than 1 percent. When the anti-apartheid activist was elected president four years later, AIDS was on it way to being an out-of-control plague, with infection rates doubling every year. In 1998, the rate of HIV infection among adults in South Africa was almost 13 percent, with 2.9 million people HIV positive,” noted Caplan.

When Mandela eventually came on board the fight, his campaigns led to significant changes in attitude at both government and individual levels. He shocked many in South Africa when he announced that his only surviving son, 54 year-old Makgatho, died of AIDS in 2005. For the rest of his life he will work with other campaigners to fight stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS.

“Our country is facing a disaster of immeasurable proportions from HIV/AIDS. We are facing a silent and invisible enemy that is threatening the very fabric of our society,” Mandela said in a message on World AIDS Day in 2000 comparing South Africa’s battle against HIV/AIDS to the fight against apartheid.

On the broader level, Mandela, “understood that exclusion from education was a major limiting factor to development,” says Harvard’s Calestous Juma, and “motivated by this concern, his name to the creation of a new generation of African Institutes of Science and Technology, seen as the beginning of a new generation of African research universities. Two have already been established, in Tanzania and Nigeria, and a third is planned in Burkina Faso.”

Evelyn Tagbo writes from Massachusetts.  She worked as journalist in Nigeria and Ghana for more than ten years.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters 

Fidel Castro Hails Brother for Obama Handshake at Mandela Memorial.

Image: Fidel Castro Hails Brother for Obama Handshake at Mandela Memorial

HAVANA — Fidel Castro praised his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, on Thursday for shaking hands with President Barack Obama at a memorial for Nelson Mandela, saying he demonstrated courtesy and dignity with the gesture.The elder Castro, in his first comment on the death of Mandela, touched on the handshake that made headlines around the world, at the end of a long column published in the Cuban media that praised Mandela and reviewed Cuba’s role in ending apartheid.

“I congratulate Comrade Raul for his brilliant performance [at the memorial], and especially for his firmness and dignity when with a friendly but firm greeting to the head of government of the United States he said in English, ‘Mr. President, I am Castro’.”

The White House played down the handshake, saying it was unplanned and went no further than pleasantries.

Still, the meeting had resonance because U.S. relations with Cuba have undergone a surprise warming in recent months with several instances of cooperation instead of the usual hostile rhetoric.

Obama said last month in Miami that it may be time for the United States to revise its policies toward Cuba, against which it has had a trade embargo for more than half a century.

Obama questioned whether the policy that was put in place in 1961 remains an effective way of dealing with U.S. differences with the communist-ruled island nation.

Fidel Castro, 87, who was operated on in 2006 for intestinal bleeding and never fully recovered, handed over power to his brother, who is five years younger, in 2008.

Fidel Castro made no public comment on Mandela’s death at the time and was too old to attend last week’s ceremony in South Africa.

He has not been seen in public in months, though an official photo released on Monday showed him seated in a blue sweat suit talking with his biographer, Spanish writer Ignacio Ramonet, last week.

Fidel Castro was a leading voice against apartheid when some other world leaders were reluctant to speak out.

Mandela was deeply appreciative of Cuban support in the fight against apartheid — a conflict that included Cuban troops who fought and died in southern Angola.

Castro, in his Thursday column, complained that the roots and crimes of apartheid had been given short shrift in coverage of Mandela’s death, as were his beliefs.

“It’s a very real fact that Mandela was a complete man, profound revolutionary and radically socialist, who with great stoicism withstood 27 years of solitary confinement,” Castro said.

“I have never ceased to admire his honesty, modesty and enormous merit.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Becoming A Man At The Nelson Mandela Secretariat By Ogaga Ifowodo.


Ogaga Ifowodo

When I was elected secretary-general of the students union at the University of Benin in 1987, I headed a secretarial named after Mandela. I do not know when the decision was taken to make Mandela the tutelary patron of our union whose struggles were mundane by comparison to the race-wide, all-of-humanity-embracing, cause that kept him underground for several years and eventually in prison for twenty-seven more. The honour, which was our union’s, served to remind us, student activists almost all born after the apartheid hate machine had jailed Mandela, of the highest aspiration of our youth: to be conscious citizens, to know what is right and to have always the courage of our convictions. But it wasn’t much of a secretariat: a few wood-paneled cubicles partitioned off the first floor gallery of the main cafeteria building. All of its grandeur lay in the name alone. Happily, several battles after, peaking with the nationwide anti-SAP protests of 1989, the UNIBEN students union got a house of its own.

But perhaps it was precisely in the modest nature of our secretariat that we came close to being worthy of taking Mandela’s name. Its physical state testified to the state of siege under which student unionism nationwide had been placed by the combined military dictatorships of Generals Muhammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida. For good measure, the main battle across campuses was for the reinstatement of unionism made voluntary and dependent on the say-so of vice-chancellors. That method of pacifying the campuses which had become hotbeds of resistance to military tyranny came from General Abisoye, head of a panel constituted to find the root causes of the 1986 crisis at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria—the same that led to the famous lamentation by Ango Abdullahi, ABU vice-chancellor, that “only four [students] died.” With active unions on campuses, we could more effectively defy the ban purportedly placed on the National Association of Nigerian Students by Buhari in 1984. Mandela’s, after all, was a life lived fighting one banning order after another, including the ultimate ban: from the equal humanity of black and white and any hue it pleased the apartheid policemen of colour to classify and rank humans by.

But if Mandela was the unquestionable African patriarch of my initiation into political manhood — taking his place on the high dais alongside such usual suspects as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Lenin, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney, Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba, Agostino Neto, etc. — he was, also, an inspiration to me as an aspiring poet. The moment I began taking myself seriously as a would-be poet coincided with my entry into the university. While waiting for my admission letter from the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, I wrote a poem for a national anti-apartheid poetry contest organised by the National Action Committee Against Apartheid (NACAP); one of the ways by which Nigeria sought to be deserving of her self-designation as a frontline state.  The poem earned me a consolation prize and my first visit to Lagos for the prize ceremony in the old National Assembly chambers at Tafawa Balewa Square. Having failed to be part of an excursion to Lagos while still at Federal Government College, Warri, I would get my chance three years after with a poem whose theme was a struggle symbolised by Mandela.

And from then on, Mandela as Muse would become fused with Mandela the Political Mentor blooding us with courage in the brutish political terrain of Nigeria’s military tyrannies. The title poems of my first two collections, Homeland and Other Poems (which also includes a cycle of poems on South Africa) and Madiba, bear witness to Mandela as muse to me. And not to me alone, either! Whole museums and libraries would be filled to the rafters with works inspired by, and directly about, Mandela. In any case, I had merely followed two literary fathers, JP Clark-Bekederemo and Wole Soyinka, in seeking to banish despair with hope by looking to a land far more savagely wounded, gashed and bleeding, and yet to be envied due to the sheer ineptitude, corruption and outright stupidity that makes Nigeria the Giant of Anarchy. One only had to look at the glowing list of men and women of unbreakable will, titanic courage, and incorruptible vision that South Africa, apartheid be damned, could boast of to understand the near-instinctive wandering of Nigerian artists, be they poets, musicians or painters, from the B(l)ight of Benin to the Cape of Good Hope.

Three days ago, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was buried among his ancestors. His transfiguration from mortal flesh to immortal spirit marks the end of an era defined by the struggle to restore the full dignity of the black race through the defeat of institutional racism as exemplified by apartheid. His likes may never walk the earth again. As saints and sinners outdid themselves to eulogise Mandela, a man many of them branded a terrorist and left to rot on Robben Island, a man whose prison uniform nearly all of the African leaders of his time, elected or self-imposed, are not worthy of washing, I could only think of the morning after the epochal event as 16 December 2013 AM (After Mandela). What Africa might be with just five leaders half the man that Mandela was!

Source: Radio Biafra.

South Africa Buries ‘Greatest Son’ Mandela.

QUNU, South Africa — South Africa buried Nelson Mandela on Sunday, closing one chapter in its tortured history and opening another in which the multi-racial democracy he founded will have to discover if it can thrive without its central pillar.

The Nobel peace laureate, who was held in apartheid prisons for 27 years before emerging to preach forgiveness and reconciliation, was laid to rest at his ancestral home in Qunu, after a send-off mixing military pomp and the traditional rites of his Xhosa abaThembu clan.

As his coffin was lowered into the wreath-ringed grave, three military helicopters flew low over the cemetery dangling the South African flag on weighted cables, a poignant echo of Mandela’s inauguration as South Africa’s first black president nearly two decades ago.

A battery of cannons fired a 21-gun salute, sending booms reverberating around the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape, before five fighter jets flying low and in formation roared over the valley.

“Yours was truly a long walk to freedom, and now you have achieved the ultimate freedom in the bosom of your maker,” a presiding military chaplain told mourners at the family gravesite, where three of his children are already buried.

At the graveside were 450 relatives, political leaders and foreign guests including Britain’s Prince Charles, American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson and talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

Mandela died aged 95 in Johannesburg on Dec. 5, plunging his 52 million countrymen and women and millions more around the world into grief, and triggering more than a week of official memorials to one of the towering figures of the 20th century.

More than 100,000 people paid their respects in person at Mandela’s lying in state at Pretoria’s Union Buildings, where he was sworn in as president in 1994, an event that brought the curtain down on more than three centuries of white domination.
When his body arrived on Saturday in Qunu, 450 miles south of Johannesburg, it was greeted by ululating locals overjoyed that Madiba, the clan name by which he was affectionately known, had “come home.”
“After his long life and illness he can now rest,” said grandmother Victoria Ntsingo. “His work is done.”
Before the burial, 4,500 family, friends and dignitaries attended the state funeral service in a huge domed tent, its interior draped in black, in a field near Mandela’s homestead.
The flag-covered casket was carried in by military chiefs, with Mandela’s grandson and heir, Mandla, and South African President Jacob Zuma following in their footsteps.
It was then placed on black and white Nguni cattle skins in front of a crescent of 95 candles, one for each year of Mandela’s life, as a choir sang Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, the national anthem adopted after the end of apartheid in 1994.
“The person who is lying here is South Africa’s greatest son,” said Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), who presided over the three-hour ceremony broadcast live across the nation and around the world.
From the Limpopo River in the north to Cape Town in the south, millions watched on television or listened to the radio. In some locations, big screens transmitted the event live.
At the service, touching tributes were paid to the father of the “Rainbow Nation” he helped forge from apartheid’s ashes.
“Farewell my dear brother, my mentor, my leader,” said lifelong friend and fellow Robben Island inmate Ahmed Kathrada, his voice cracking with emotion, drawing tears from mourners.
In his eulogy, Zuma paid tribute to a life that went from freedom-fighter to political prisoner to president. He also briefly turned attention to the future, pledging to continue Mandela’s quest for a free and equal society, free from racial discrimination.
“Whilst the long walk to freedom has ended in the physical sense, our own journey continues. We have to continue building the type of society you worked tirelessly to construct. We have to take the legacy forward,” Zuma said.
The intense spotlight on the departed Mandela has highlighted the gulf in stature between him and the scandal-plagued Zuma. The current president is increasingly criticized for not doing enough to reduce poverty and chronic unemployment and end gaping income disparities that make South Africa one of the most unequal societies in the world.
Mandela served just one term as leader of Africa’s biggest and most sophisticated economy, and formally withdrew from public life in 2004, famously telling reporters at the end of a farewell news conference: “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”
His last appearance in public was at the 2010 World Cup final in Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium, waving to fans from the back of a golf cart.
Yet such was his influence as the architect of the historic reconciliation between blacks and whites that his passing has left a gaping hole at the heart of South Africa’s psyche.
With an eye on elections in five months, the ANC, the 101-year-old former liberation movement Mandela once led, has seized on his death as a chance to shore up popularity that is ebbing even in its black support base.
This calculation backfired badly at a Mandela memorial in Johannesburg on Tuesday when Zuma, under fire for a $21 million security upgrade to his private home, was booed and jeered in front of world leaders including President Barack Obama.
But barring an upset next year, Zuma looks set for another five years in office, during which he will have to address an economy struggling to shake off a 2009 recession and the fragmentation of a vital ANC alliance forged with the unions in the common struggle against apartheid.
With unemployment at 25 percent and racial inequality still painfully evident  — the average white household earns six times more than the average black one pressure for radical economic transformation is only likely to increase.
Against that backdrop, the party is desperate for strong leaders to guide South Africa through the complexities of the 21st century global economy and allow it to claim what it believes is its rightful place at the world’s top table.
There are questions whether Zuma, a polygamous Zulu traditionalist with no formal education, can deliver this.
“We need to raise the level of leadership,” former president Thabo Mbeki, who was unceremoniously ousted by Zuma six years ago, said in eulogies to Mandela last week.
“The transformation of South Africa is a very difficult task, I think in many respects more difficult than the struggle to end the system of apartheid.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Ode to the Late Freedom Fighter — Madiba -I Want To Go To Prison By Oyebanjo Abiola.

As I write, 99 Presidents are on their way to Cape Town for the memorial service of the former South African President, Nelson Mandela. This could be the greatest gathering of international head-of-states outside the UN and could be more than gatherings at the burial of Pope John Paul II. The illustrious President Obama and his wife just arrived at South Africa from a 16-hour flight alongside the Clintons and the Bushes. This journey has been described by the US Press as the “Airforce One Awkward”.

Many have presumed this will give them the opportunity to discuss  the impact of this man together, which might probably lead to new discourse in political and racial parlance. Remember, George is white, Obama is Black, George is Republican, and Clinton is Democrat. The principles of Madiba have influenced this possibility of confluence of the colour-mix in both political and economic fronts around the world. He gave the world a bright direction of a greater dimension of understanding justice and love. His new definition of Justice was not to give people what they deserve, but what they really want. It is a harder definition, but it worked.

I must confess that it was really hard to amass the extent of reference that the Old Man received after his death. I couldn’t imagine if there would ever be another man in history who will be so much honoured like Mandela until after a very very long time. He filled up the spaces in major newspapers all over the world. Webcast and air programs on Television keeps bootstrapping every memorable moments of the prodigious man. Like the biblical prophet, he had more honor abroad than in the African continent. I am sure Africans alone wouldn’t have celebrated Mandela nobly enough. His tributes flood all major broadcast around the world. No man has had much positive influence in the world especially in Africa in recent times than Mandela. I grew to learn about him, and the touching stories of his 27-year prison stay as the most deadly story of heroism ever feasible to me. Notably, his influence on me and many others who never knew him personally was simple – being a Prisoner doesn’t make you a slave forever. You can always rise above your limitations and come out victorious no matter how lengthy. One inordinate reason many hasn’t given up yet.

Madiba didn’t travel to Europe and America looking for money and fame like many would do these days. He didn’t see comfort where most of us think we can find them. He received military training in Algeria and Morocco and with the political platform of ANC, he fought. His mission was not to become President of his country; he was only driven by his quest for freedom. The few whites who were angered by the way they had hitherto been treated transferred the aggression on the blacks. The whites controlled everything, from money to women. Madiba and his co-freedom fighters couldn’t afford to be mere groaners and writers of the despair, took to the street to defend the first basic right of everyman, which is freedom.

I am seriously pained these days as I surround my thoughts with nitpicks when the solutions is staring at me at the face. I moan at my comfort not willing to stand out for my rights in discomfort. I am tamed so also are many. We are repressed by the inability not to think or to only think with a ceiling. This is not even about acting out for our rights; it is that many people’s thoughts and beliefs have been arrested.

What is freedom? Freedom is not in sitting in your room watching African Magic and whacking a lump of heated Turkey, saying life is good. If you have to dredge up what you went through to get that done and what you will do to continue to enjoy this and more, then you wouldn’t finish that meal with the requisite comfort. Your mind encapsulates like a controlled moron but outward, you look free and happy. You drive a car, and you smile as you outrun your friend on the express lane and you humbly bounce out as you park at the middle of an event. Good things at the cost of a bad weave. You live in a house you just completed after making so much procurement injustices and so many people spend the rest of their life sadly in the house of their own.

There is no freedom for an average Nigerian yet. You will need another job soon. You will need more money. You will have to attend these moribund hospitals when you are older and sick; you would need to steal plentiful money so you wouldn’t jeopardize your health in Nigeria-made health centers. Silent Generator costs about a million naira or more except you will keep settling for the pollution at the back of your room which will ruin your life stealthily. These generators run on expensive diesel, and there have to be stock of this to finish up your favourite program or feel the good fauna of the conditioned air. Your mind as a Nigerian keeps wondering like an oscillating windmill having no bearing for freedom.

It is good for you; at least you are still living and surviving even though I can bet this will only be short-lived unless your slave up to the ugly dictates of greed and immorality. This poor story gets me wounded for the many unemployed graduates in the country. I have been trying to chat with one of the most brilliant Sociologist Nigeria’ brightest school has produced recently. She has complained that she has been shying away from public discussion after many years of no work; a typical tier of slavery. I thought a friend was doing well in the capital city, but lately, he was honest enough to confess to me he doesn’t know what tomorrow will look like and he had always assumed hope for survival. He is very near to where the monies his fathers’ fought for are siphoned, yet, he lacks the courage to claim it. He doesn’t want to die, yet he is dead.

So many and so many youth are half dead covering up with glorious clothes lifted around from friends and folks. Those ahead are not ready to mentor or listen. It takes extra-ordinary people or perhaps lucky people to get their way around this bound. I know too many graduates who run from pillar to pole aiming to survive under terrible trends called entrepreneurship. It is not as easy as I write it. Too many people hide in shame and slavery waiting for a tomorrow that doesn’t seem to come. Some take up jobs that change the direction of their life forever. These they do to survive in a land where the wealth required is as clear as the light, but fear has led many away from true freedom.

For me, I want to be like Madiba. I want to walk the long road to freedom.  What Mandela is honoured for today was not only what he did before he went to prison but what he did while he was there and after he left. In prison, he learned true freedom. I want to be approximated to the height of many African writers Like theWoleSoyinka andDennis Brutus, who incubated great ideas while in Prison. I am weary of this world that seems free, but we are bounded by the juggernaut of poverty and hopelessness. I want to be free of the lies of promises in a better life of modern assets and goods when people whom we are supposed to live together die to shameful pleas for aggrandizement, penurious super structures and monumental shame.  Like Mandela said, the worst way to deprive people of freedom is through poverty. I am not scared of poverty, I am scared I live with it and they call it wealth. I want to go to prison and learn the true meaning of Justice which Mandela did while at Robben Island.

Madiba and his co-fighters have found it hard to describe their prison experience in a bad light. As Mac Maharaj (his co-prisoner)narrated, in Prison, they enjoyed the free food, the free light, how they played together and sport together. They considered the Prison as a free university. In Prison, I will be alone to the reality of true freedom and wouldn’t be scared of death. I would value what real freedom means and mark the difference between the freedom of space and the freedom of the mind.

I wouldn’t be cocooned by the media and lies of friends and family. I would be closer to life and death; power and powerlessness; love and bitterness. I would understand the inert nature of man and live a life of my own volition. I would be beaten and stabbed, fucked and disgraced, yet Like Mandela said, I was scared but the will of freedom can’t be compromised. He was once given amnesty and freed but with a condition not to fight. He refuted the so called “freedom” that the outside world gives with conditions; conditions not to fight; conditions of poverty, silent pains, destitution and fear. If prison will free me from the fear that I need to suppress, I will like to go prison.

Mandela describes to us that courage is not the absence of fear but the conquering of it. I am afraid of these woven lives where many move around as slaves thinking they are free. I am courageous enough to find the path of freedom, and I wouldn’t settle for less.  I hope you join me in this soon. We pay too much money watching foreigners and diffusing others people’s culture. From media, city people, razzle-dazzle, schools to magazines. I want to go to prison. RIP NELSON MANDELA


Why Did Prime Minister Netanyahu Skip Nelson Mandela’s Funeral?.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

I was shocked when I read that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not be attending the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa because it was too expensive to travel there. Seriously?

To be perfectly clear, I write these words as someone who stands with Israel and who thinks well of Mr. Netanyahu. But truth is truth, and there’s a good reason that the prime minister’s excuse for not attending the funeral has caused quite an uproar.

As reported by Christa Case Bryant in the Christian Science Monitor, the simple fact that Mr. Netanyahu did not attend the funeral was serious in itself: “While the Israeli leader’s absence may have gone relatively unnoticed in South Africa, it has caused consternation in Israel. Detractors argue that missing the memorial of a man who championed freedom and brought down apartheid gives fresh fodder to critics who say Israel, too, has constructed an apartheid system and is insincere about reconciling with Palestinians after decades of conflict.”

Indeed, Middle East expert Neil Lazarus, blogging for the Times of Israel, notes, “The anti-Israel lobby could not have wished for a better Christmas present.”

He further explains, “To excuse yourself from attending Nelson Mandela’s memorial on the basis of expense is lacking truth and needs reconciling with the facts.”

According to the Jewish Daily Forward, “South African Jews blasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his controversial decision to snub Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

“Amid public anger over Netanyahu’s bizarre claim that it would cost too much to attend, Jews slammed the move and expressed hope it would not diminish the outpouring of emotion from Jews over the death of the freedom icon.

“‘It’s an absolute disgrace,’ said Zev Krengel, president of the South African Board of Jewish Deputies. ‘This is the No. 1 Jewish citizen in the world and he cannot find a way to attend an event of this nature? It’s an absolute low point.’”

Certainly, it is almost impossible to believe that Israel could not afford to send its prime minister to South Africa, even considering the cost of the extra security that would be needed, and Lazarus makes this plain by examining Israeli expenditures on Mr. Netanyahu.

Why, then, the obfuscation from the prime minister? Why not simply tell the truth?

It appears that the real issue was not the expense of the trip but rather the fact that Mr. Mandela had compared the situation of South African blacks under the apartheid system with the situation of Palestinians living in the so-called occupied territories, also praising Yasser Arafat.

In an opinion piece for Al-Jazeerah, Hanna Kawas, chairperson for the Canada Palestine Association, laments the loss of Mr. Mandela, praising him as a great friend of the Palestinians. She notes that in 1997, he stated, “But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” while in 1990, he said, “I believe that there are many similarities between our struggle and that of the PLO. We live under a unique form of colonialism in South Africa, as well as in Israel, and a lot flows from that.”

In a clip played by Ted Koppel on ABC, Mr. Mandela also stated, “We identify with the PLO because, just like ourselves, they are fighting for the right of self determination. … Arafat is a comrade in arms.”

And in a 1990 interview with Australian media, he said, “We agree with the United Nations that international disputes should be settled by peaceful means. The belligerent attitude which is adopted by the Israeli government is to us unacceptable,” also explaining that his organization, the ANC, does not consider the PLO a terrorist group.

He added, “If one has to refer to any of the parties as a terrorist state, one might refer to the Israeli government, because they are the people who are slaughtering defenseless and innocent Arabs in the occupied territories, and we don’t regard that as acceptable.”

Now, there are ready replies to these very serious charges. (Click here for my lecture “Is Israel an Evil Occupier?” For my radio debate with Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer on the question of “How Christian Is Christian Zionism?” click here. For the question of Israel being an apartheid state, click here.)

The issue is that Mr. Mandela’s views on these subjects were well-known in Israel, even though for years he had “enjoyed warm relations with South Africa’s Jewish community and worked closely with Jews within his movement.” And this means that Mr. Netanyahu’s excuse for not attending the funeral ring all the more hollow.

It would have been far better for him to attend, sending a message that, just as Mr. Mandela left a legacy of reconciliation, the leader of Israel wanted to send a similar message of reconciliation. And by attending the funeral, he could have subtly said to the world, “We come to honor a great leader who was critical of my own nation, but my presence here sends a message that we are not the people many of you think we are.”

What if conscience did not allow Mr. Netanyahu to attend? Then he could have said, “The nation of Israel pays its deepest respects to Nelson Mandela and to his victory over apartheid. At the same time, because we knew him to be a strong critic of our nation, we thought it best to honor his memory by not attending.”

In short, Prime Minister Netanyahu could have said almost anything other than that he was staying away because the cost of attending the funeral was prohibitive. To do so besmirches both Nelson Mandela and Benjamin Netanyahu in one fell swoop.


Michael Brown is author of Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

Mandela: Remembering The Prophet Of One Humanity By Gimba Kakanda.

The day started with reports of a tragedy, though not unusual, but a terrible tragedy nonetheless, of challenges of being a Blackman especially overseas, among a people to whom black is an inverse of decency, to whom Africa is a civilisation built upside down. It was the news making the rounds that banners bearing “We want peace in Goa. Say no to Nigerian (sic). Say no to drugs” have been put up across India’s Goa State and that the state legislators too, outraged by the criminal conducts of some Nigerians in the coastal State, referred to them as “wild animals” whose presence is perceived as “cancer” in the functionalities of that most richest of India’s States. Perhaps I was rattled because of my romantic attraction to India and because I could have been one of the visiting Nigerians branded as, or mistaken for, “drug peddlers” by the authorities if I had moved to India as planned last June.

While Indians are almost spiritual in their categorisations of dark-skinned people as socially subaltern, Nigerians, typically loud and mindlessly haughty, have given the racist lot grounds to justify their illusory superiority. In his initial reaction to this, my cerebral cousin, Richard Ali, wrote: “While we are busy being righteously outraged, let us not kid ourselves that 5 out of every 10 Nigerians in India are there illegally or are doing illegal things including drugs. The Indians didn’t just wake up and skip Colombians and Italians and then land on Nigerians. It’s a difficult situation. If Nigeria is serious we have to appoint someone to deal with our image in India, to push out in the public mind the other 5 out of 10 Nigerians who are good expatriates in that country.”

Unfortunately, the crimes of some Nigerians in India have become the crimes of not just the entire Nigerians but of dark-skinned people all over the world, simply because of the history of their race and nationalities and if, for instance, a green passport-carrying Nigerian or any dark-skinned African who has never ever seen hard drugs in his life, appears in Goa in the heat of such trouble, the same illogic will be applied in lynching him as the Indians do to the “Nigerian”. This is what I find detestable; we must let every criminal be dealt with as an individual, not as a representative of a country or race. If Nigerians had had the brains of the the Indian mobs attacking them, the Indians would have also been massacred in Nigeria for proliferating the Nigerian market with counterfeit drugs, damaging unsuspecting citizens, until NAFDAC was established to check the menace, banning and blacklisting the Indian pharmaceutical channels responsible.

The same Goa, a tourist hub that the Indians claim has been made unsafe by Nigerians, has long been dubbed the “rape capital of India” for the notoriety of its rapists, all Indians, recklessly after and assaulting foreign tourists, possessed by libidos that couldn’t spare even an eight year-old Russian girl. Aside from the Goa statistics, India’s rape rates remain regular features of the international media; yet nobody finds the gut to indict this generation of Indians unfairly as rapists knowing the gravity and backlash of such careless stereotyping. And this hypocrisy challenges us to ponder: why is it so easy to denigrate a black person, an African, a Nigerian? It’s the world’s sensitivity to the history of our persecutions and awareness of the failures of our governments and people which seem to have inspired a consensus that nothing good may ever come from us. We are all in the news for the wrong reasons: killing one another over religions introduced by foreigners, over trivial ethnic and political differences, thus exposing the skeletons of the continent to the people already doubting the authenticity of our humanity. We give the media-dependent world impressions of an Africa of perpetual famine and malnourished children, of needless wars and skirmishes and brainless warlords, of dysfunctional governments and shamelessly corrupt elite, and of the many ethnic, religious and political zealots and uncivilised belligerents. So it’s understandable when we find signposts bearing “Save Africa” planted in coffee bars and airports in New York and London, convincing the almsgivers that Africa is no doubt the playground of the Devil!

I was struggling to outfight the shame stirred up by unfair treatments of my kinds in Goa when the heart of the world literally stopped at once in honour of the passing of a man who, in conventional intellection of his skin colour and ancestry, ought to have been just another “nigger” dead. But he was Nelson Mandela, known first as a human being, a philosophy he successful engraved in our conscience, before any other thing. He came, saw and refused to mind his business as many before him, becoming an activist and then a politician and then a thinker whose mission offered to solder the mortally broken bond between the black and the white, showing us that though the colour of our skin differs, our language too may differ, we’re held together by a much stronger identity: our humanity. Mandela confidently highlighted my proposition that we are all humans first before we are ever any other thing, before we are ever identified as a member of a race, a country, a province, an ethnicity and a religion and until that is properly understood, that a caucasian, an Arab, a Black, an Indian and Chinese who were delivered of a child respectively in the same hospital at the same time only procreated what is first a human being, an undeniably permanent identity: it’s the only identity, of all the acquired and imposed labels, we can never renounce!

Mandela was a product of a turbulent history. He was not a myth or a creation of the western media as presented by dissenters attempting to portray him as a sellout who betrayed the revolution of his people. He began as an angry young revolutionary who had no alternative but to resort to an armed struggle meant to “target only government offices and symbols of apartheid, not people”, in the process of which he was arrested, charged and sent to jail. 27 years later, leaving the prison, he laced up his shoes for a walk that would later dominate the literatures of Freedom and redefine the politics of race beyond the borders of his home country – the first black President of the Republic of South Africa. The dissenters expected him to jail the white beneficiaries of apartheid system, confiscate their assets and let the new majority rule be dedicated to the causes of the blacks. Instead, Mandela chose to heal the wounds of the nation through reconciliations, declaring: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.” Mandela’s resolve to not avenge the evils of apartheid, against the highlighted violent dispositions of his young years that had him branded as a terrorist, was a wisdom perfectly applied. Time had already changed, invalidated the necessity of violence in new South Africa and, more so, we are witnesses to the backlash of reckless revenge in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. And while the mess of the apartheid regimes may not be cleaned up overnight, the fortunes of both South Africa and Zimbabwe are now in the hands of Black politicians, and their failure to redeem their people is no longer the White man’s palaver!

Mandela’s existence was a sort of secular prophethood: he showed us all we must adopt in overcoming racial differences and tensions, and the ways to knot the loose bonds of race relations inherited from histories that must also be flung into the bin of our memories. If African leaders heed the words of Mandela, the least they owe their people is crushing the (in)decisions that keep the people fleeing their home country. They must erect structures in which the talents and brains we sell or abuse overseas can be properly tapped, instead of turning into advocates of dangerous and polarising ideas or beliefs. Mandela was not hypocritical in teaching us his aversions to supremacy of one race to another, of one religion to another and of his commitments to serving humanity, but so long as the customers gathered in coffee bars in New York and London continue to see the “Save Africa” signposts as a result of our people’s disregards for the wisdom of Mandela, and aware that Africa is still far behind Asia in its race to the modern civilisation, their sense of superiority remains unshaken. Mandela’s life has already become a book, every year a chapter, every action a verse, for those who think.

That Mandela, a Blackman, demolished restrictive labels and became a universally acknowledged symbol of Compassion, Peace and One Humanity in a world known for vengeful politicians, even among the people to whom the Blackman is still a divine error or biological dysfunction, challenges us to search within and understand how to “mass-produce” more of such species – of morally courageous black people possessed by a passion to stand out. Despite India’s famed racial prejudice, the flaws in considering even its darker citizens socially inferior, it lowered its flag to half-mast for five-day state mourning of Mandela – and its private citizens too joined in their individual respect to a human loved. And the respect shown Mandela all over the world by the blacks and whites and browns and whatnots is itself an unspoken communication, the last verse of his book of commonsense, telling us that though the structure of the world is complex, by being good and honest and loyal to the doctrine of one humanity we will conquer the expectations of those to whom we are mere lynch-able criminals and inferiors. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Mandela Signer: I’m Sign Language ‘Champion’; Claims Hallucinations.

Image: Mandela Signer: I'm Sign Language 'Champion'; Claims Hallucinations

JOHANNESBURG — A South African sign language interpreter accused of gesticulating gibberish as world leaders paid tribute to Nelson Mandela defended himself as a “champion” signer on Thursday, but said he suffered a schizophrenic episode during the event.The interpreter, identified as 34-year-old Thamsanqa Jantjie, told Johannesburg‘s Star newspaper he started hearing voices and hallucinating while on stage, resulting in gestures that made no sense to outraged deaf people around the world.

“There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation. I tried to control myself and not show the world what was going on. I am very sorry. It’s the situation I found myself in,” he told the paper.

He did not know what triggered the attack, he added, saying he took medication for his schizophrenia.

Millions of TV viewers saw Jantjie interpreting for leaders including President Barack Obama and his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, at Tuesday’s Mandela memorial.

Afterward South Africa’s leading deaf association denounced Jantjie as a fake, saying he was inventing signs.

Editor’s Note: Health Benefits of Prayer Revealed!However, in a radio interview Jantjie said he was happy with his performance at the memorial to the anti-apartheid hero, who died a week ago aged 95.

“Absolutely, absolutely. I think that I’ve been a champion of sign language,” he told Talk Radio 702.

When contacted by Reuters he said he could not understand why people were complaining now rather than during other performances. “I’m not a failure. I deliver,” he said, before hanging up.

The controversy has overshadowed South Africa’s 10-day farewell to Mandela, whose remains were lying in state for a second day on Thursday at Pretoria’s Union Buildings, where he was sworn in as the nation’s first black president in 1994.

Revelations about Jantjie’s unconventional gestures — experts said he did not know even basic signs such as ‘thank you’ or ‘Mandela’ — sparked a hunt for the mystery mimer on Wednesday.

The government, which was in charge of the mass memorial, said it had no idea who he was, a comment echoed by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), even though footage from two large ANC events last year showed him signing on stage next to Zuma.

Jantjie said he worked for a company called SA Interpreters hired by the ANC for Tuesday’s ceremony at Johannesburg’s 95,000-seat Soccer City stadium.

“Absolutely. That’s what happened,” he told the radio.

The ANC denied any knowledge of Jantjie, but said it was investigating.

“I’m very, very surprised,” spokesman Jackson Mthembu said. “We will follow this up. We are not sure if there is any truth in what has been said.”

The death of Nobel peace laureate Mandela triggered an outpouring of grief and emotion – as well as celebration and thanksgiving – among his 53 million countrymen and millions more around the world.

His body will lie in state for a third day on Friday before being flown to the Eastern Cape, where it will be buried on Sunday at his ancestral home in Qunu, 700 kilometers (450 miles) south of Johannesburg.

Thousands of mourners continue to queue to say goodbye to Mandela in Pretoria in the building where the anti-apartheid hero was inaugurated in 1994 as South Africa’s first black president.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Evangelist: Gospel Profoundly Affected Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela
One of South Africa’s leading evangelists says he believes the gospel profoundly affected Nelson Mandela’s outlook as he re-entered politics after his years in prison. (CBN News)

One of South Africa’s leading evangelists says he believes the gospel profoundly affected Nelson Mandela‘s outlook as he re-entered politics after his years in prison.

Evangelist Michael Cassidy said Billy Grahamasked him to visit Mandela in 1992 in response to a letter Mandela had written to Graham after he left prison.

He said he personally took a signed copy of Graham’s book, Peace with God, to Mandela.

“I remember him telling me that when he was in prison he never missed Bible study or church service or Sunday nights. I was very impressed by that,” Cassidy said.

“I personally like to believe that the Christian gospel also informed his responses. It wasn’t just pragmatic politics. These were principles in his heart and soul and mind that he had come to believe were right,” he continued.

At Mandela’s request, Cassidy went to network with other church leaders to press for reconciliation, both before and after Mandela’s election in 1994.

“He was saddened that there were portions of the church that had given explicit or implicit support for the apartheid system and had legitimized it theologically,” he reminisced.

“But it was not lost on him that the church was a very important player in the whole process whereby apartheid was brought to an end,” Cassidy added.

Cassidy said Mandela wrote a letter to Graham saying he was touched by one of Graham’s TV broadcasts while in prison.


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