Mumia Abu-Jamal recalls the short giant of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s visit to his tiny cell on death row, “The Arch” to his friends and family, a perfect example of love
She was born in 1936 and named Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela, but the world would come to know this South African beauty as Winnie Mandela, the wife of African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela. And when, after Nelson’s freedom, the marriage ended, she remained a powerful presence in South African life, loved by the nation’s poor and dispossessed. For they knew, in their heart of hearts, that their struggle was her struggle.
In the mid-‘80s, before computers, Black and disabled teenager Leroy F. Moore Jr. was very interested in the welfare of people with disabilities in South Africa. Leroy tried to write a paper on that subject at the time but, due to lack of accessible public information, the paper ended up being only two pages. That is when he knew that he had to visit South Africa. His research was later enhanced by the advent of computers and the internet.
This article was prompted by the unrelenting campaign by friends and associates of the late Dr. Walter Rodney, to maintain the false accusation that Forbes Burnham ordered Walter Rodney’s assassination. Many of these academics and commentators are not Guyanese and do not fully understand the circumstances in 1980 that led to Walter Rodney’s demise. The adage, chanted by Bob Marley, that “half the story has never been told” is 100 percent correct.
As we move into the next solar return, there is much to look forward to despite the stasis that seems to infect this nation with the disease of white supremacy or racial domination. OK OK, perhaps the silver lining is a bit too buried to find Osumare’s twinkle beyond any pots of gold you’ve stumbled upon recently. The knowledge that no matter how it looks, the Creator is in charge and the bad guys just look like they are always winning is what sustains us.
Elections should be the season of hope. Steve Biko declared that our fight was for an open society, a society where the color of a person’s skin will not be a point of reference or departure, a society in which each person has one vote. We have the vote – but the political parties do not represent the aspirations of the people. Millions of Black people remain poor and oppressed. When we organize outside of the ANC, we are violently repressed.
Two decades after the fall of apartheid in South Africa, the ANC-led Tripartite government represents big business’ interests. This has led the government to brutally attack workers who fight back against austerity. Black poverty has worsened. Inequality has worsened. Trade union officials collaborate with employers against workers, youth and the unemployed. Does this sound familiar? Isn’t the situation similar in the U.S.?
In a statement at the White House, President Obama paid tribute to Nelson Mandela who died Dec. 5 at age 95. As the world focuses on the historic handshake between President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro, we look back at the pivotal role Cuba played in ending apartheid and why Castro was one of only five world leaders invited to speak at Nelson Mandela’s Dec. 10 memorial in Johannesburg.
He was born Rolihlahla in July of 1918, in a nation of which he was not truly a citizen, into a country called the Union of South Africa, a part of the British Empire. The world would come to know him as Nelson, a name given him by a grade school teacher: Nelson Mandela. At long last, after 95 years of life, Mandela has returned to his ancestors. Between birth and death he has blazed an amazing life of love and revolution, of struggle and resistance, of prison and isolation, of freedom – and now death.
In the wake of Nelson Mandela’s death, hosannas continue to be sung to the former ANC leader and South African president from both the left and from the right. But the right’s embrace of Mandela as an anti-racist hero doesn’t ring true. Is there another reason establishment media and mainstream politicians are as Mandela-crazy as the left?
Nelson Mandela fought for justice, democracy and freedom for all. He did not say that the poor were excluded. He did not say that people from some provinces were excluded. We remain committed to the vision of justice, democracy and freedom for all. We will continue to take Mandela’s struggle forward. Mandela went to jail saying that he stood for a “revolutionary democracy in which poverty, want and insecurity shall be no more.” The struggle for a revolutionary democracy, a democracy in which every person counts, continues.
Perhaps it’s a false contradiction. But today there are many who stress the pacifist message with which South Africa’s Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) emerged from prison in 1990, while few put an emphasis on his rebellion against apartheid, including armed rebellion, which landed him in prison. Mandela was a political activist and a revolutionary at least since 1942.
Nelson Mandela’s passing has drawn responses from throughout the U.S. and the world. To oppressed and working people, Mandela was a symbol and example of self-sacrifice and lifelong commitment to revolutionary change. Although the struggle inside South Africa and throughout the region is by no means complete, the legacy of Mandela through the ANC, SACP, COSATU and other affiliated organizations will live on.
Damu’s idea of revolutionary change meant, first, seeing the need for a radical transformation of the world and then having confidence that ordinary people, working people, are capable of making it happen. When they do rise up and try to fashion a new world, with all the mistakes humans are capable of making, he believed you have to support them.
Lynne Stewart devoted over 30 years of her life to helping others as a criminal defense lawyer. She defended the poor, the disadvantaged and those targeted by the police and the state. Now Lynne Stewart needs our urgent help or she may die in prison. Our determination can compel the Bureau of Prisons to file the motion for compassionate release that will free Lynne Stewart.
Leo Robinson was a Black leader of the longshore union in San Francisco. He died in mid-January. For many of us, he was a lifelong companion, an example of what being an internationalist and a working class activist was all about. When Leo Robinson spoke, he had the full attention of every union member in Local 10’s cavernous waterfront union hall.
General measures could move the cultural discussion and peoples’ behaviors in the right direction, whereas a focus on restricting gun ownership – except for people who fit appropriate medico-legal exclusion criteria – will probably worsen our cultural crisis, increase discrimination and police attacks, and increase the danger of greater social violence and chaos.
“On Aug. 16, police opened fire on striking Marikana workers, killing 34 and wounding 78. The bitter struggle was called off only after the strikers had secured a 22 percent wage increase. The strike wave is now engulfing South Africa’s platinum, gold and coal mining industries and has spread to other sectors. There are more than 100,000 workers on strike across South Africa.”
This is the month we wear our Blackness with pride – so walk on, walk on. I want to thank Rhodessa Jones, Shaka Jamal, Pat Jamison, Elaine Lee, Walter Turner, Vera Nobles and Elouise Burrell for your leads and references for South Africa.
“All of our institutions have failed us if they do not use their power and act against this crime against humanity being carried out in Africa today. I received a call this morning from an Ivorian friend who calls it genocide what Sarkozy’s troops are doing there. Blood, blood, everywhere. Depleted uranium in Libya. Generations to come will suffer the health effects. We must try to stop President Obama. He has the power to say no. So far, he is good at saying yes to all the wrong people. So we must do more than we think we can. Anything less places more blood on everyone’s hands.” - Cynthia McKinney
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