International

United States of America Owes Nelson Mandela and the (ANC) National African Congress an Apology

anc-mandela-free-350"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison," Said Mandela after he was freed in 1990.

Mandela is an exceptional human being. Someone who had sacrificed his own freedom for the freedom of others. Someone who was always willing to do what was necessary to safeguard liberty and democracy. However the beacon of freedom, the country revered for democracy and human rights, the great United States of America was not always in the side of this great icon. We did him wrong.

Following Mandela's death, many world leaders including President Obama paid tribute to Mandela by issuing statements and in the case of this country, lowering the American flag. But, president Obama should have taken the opportunity to apologize posthumously to Mandela's family because for many years, Nelson Mandela's name was in the terror watch list known now as the terrorist watch list, and was not removed until December of 2008. But more than that the CIA was an accomplice in Mandela's arrest.

Many people in America specially hardliners in the Republican Party did not share in the adulation of Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC). In fact, many had branded Nelson Mandela and the ANC as a terrorist organization, just like Hamas in Palestine, an unrepentant terrorist and a communist sympathizer. In fact, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) working together with its counterpart in South Africa's racist regime engineered Mandela's arrest in 1962 leading to a long prison sentence.

Finally, In the early 1980s many Hollywood movies were made depicting the atrocities of the apartheid regime against the majority black population. US senator Ted Kennedy good bless his soul together with senator Lowell Weicker drafted legislation imposing economic sanctions on South Africa. However, Republican President Ronald Reagan sought to bury congress anti-apartheid bill by imposing his veto stating that he believed it would only lead to more violence and repression for black South Africans. Congress luckily and for the first time overrode a president's veto on a foreign policy issue, passing legislation that slapped sanctions on Pretoria, cutting direct air links and vital aid to South Africa minority white regime.

In 1990, Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison and in 1994 became the first democratically elected President of South Africa. In his lifetime, he was a man of complexities. He went from a militant freedom fighter, to a prisoner, to a unifying figure, to an elder statesman.

In 1999 he retired from the presidency. He became a yardstick for African leaders, who consistently fell short when measured against him. He was warm, lanky and charismatic in his silk, earth-toned dashikis, he was quick to admit to his shortcomings, endearing him further in a culture in which leaders rarely do.

Though leaders in the United States including President Bill Clinton was enamored by him, Mandela and other members of the ANC remained on the US terror watch list because of their armed struggle against the apartheid regime. This designation meant that the US State Department had to issue special waiver to Mandela to enter the United States for meetings such as the UN General Assembly. Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said in 2006 that she found this waiver utterly "embarrassing."

Finally in 2008 Congress passed legislation removing Mandela from the terror watch list, and then senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry, said: "He had no place on our government's terror watch list, and I'm pleased to see this bill finally become law." Why did it take so long?

Shortly after president Zuma announced the death of Nelson Mandela, President Obama in a televised address from the White House said Mandela was "a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice." He said nothing about the United States contribution in undermining ANC's work toward freedom. "A free South Africa, at peace with itself, that's an example to the world, and that's Madiba's legacy to the nation that he loved, " Obama said, referring to Mandela by his clan name.

But it was not always that way. America did Nelson Mandela wrong and America MUST apologize for cooperating with the racist apartheid regime of South Africa undermining Mandela and the ANC's work toward freedom and democracy for all. It is not enough to talk the talk we must walk the walk supporting people's struggle for freedom and democracy all over the world and that means Saudi Arabia, Palestine, China and other countries where the US is very supportive of the actual government.

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Manny
Photo:africanactivist.msu.edu

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