Thursday, December 05, 2013

Nelson Mandela's statement from the dock, 1964

Nelson Mandela has died.

Let us remember him through his words from the dock at the opening of his trial in 1964 - you can read the whole statement on the African National Congress site:
In my youth in the Transkei I listened to the elders of my tribe telling stories of the old days. Amongst the tales they related to me were those of wars fought by our ancestors in defence of the fatherland. The names of Dingane and Bambata, Hintsa and Makana, Squngthi and Dalasile, Moshoeshoe and Sekhukhuni, were praised as the glory of the entire African nation. I hoped then that life might offer me the opportunity to serve my people and make my own humble contribution to their freedom struggle. This is what has motivated me in all that I have done in relation to the charges made against me in this case. 
Having said this, I must deal immediately and at some length with the question of violence. Some of the things so far told to the Court are true and some are untrue. I do not, however, deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by the Whites. ... 
During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
Mandela's release from prison in 1990, along with the fall of the Berlin Wall they year before, marked the dawn of a hopeful decade in politics. Suddenly the good guys were winning.

That spirit did not survive 9/11, but that has more to do with the inadequacy of the West's leaders than it does with the objective threat from terrorism.

We must hope that South Africa's leaders will be up to maintaining Mandela's legacy.

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