Obama Visits Mandela’s Old Cell, But Won’t Free His Own Political Prisoners

Tue, 07/02/2013 -— Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report

“Obama has no sympathy, however, for political prisoners of any race in his own country.”

 

Barack Obama making a highly-publicised visit to Nelson Mandela's 1980's prison cell on Robben Island

Barack Obama making a highly-publicised visit to Nelson Mandela’s 1980’s prison cell on Robben Island

President Barack Obama, a man of infinite cynicism, made a great show of going on pilgrimage to Nelson Mandela’s old prison cell on Robben Island, where the future first Black president of South Africa spent 18 of his 27 years of incarceration. With his wife and daughters in tow, Obama said he was “humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield…. No shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit,” said the chief executive of the unchallenged superpower of mass incarceration, a nation whose population comprises only 5 percent of humanity, but is home to fully one-quarter of the Earth’s prison inmates.

 

True sociopaths, like the commander-in-chief who updates his Kill List every Tuesday, have no sense of shame, much less irony. Obama feigns awe at Mandela’s suffering and sacrifice in the prisons of apartheid South Africa, yet presides over a regime that, on any given day, holds 80,000 inmates in the excruciating torture of solitary confinement. During Nelson Mandela’s nearly three decades of imprisonment by the white regime, he spent a total of only about one week in solitary confinement. The rest of the time, despite often harsh treatment, backbreaking labor, and unhealthy conditions, Mandela and other political prisoners at Robben Island and other South African jails were typically housed together. Indeed, Mandela and his incarcerated comrades called the prisons their “university,” where they taught each other to become the future authorities over their jailers. Continue reading

ANC accused of airbrushing allies and rivals out of anti-apartheid struggle

South Africa’s ruling party said to be rewriting the past to give itself the starring role as it celebrates its centenary

in Johannesburg

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 31 December 2011

History may be written by the victors, but who gets top billing? South Africa‘s ruling African National Congress, one of the most famous political movements in history, has been accused of “airbrushing people out” of the liberation past as it prepares to celebrate its centenary.

The ANC, the oldest liberation movement in Africa, turns 100 years old next Sunday, the cue for year-long commemorations costing 100m rand (£7.8m).

While no one questions the central role of Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders in winning freedom from racial apartheid in 1994, rival political organisations and various commentators say the anniversary will be manipulated to sideline the contributions of others.

“The ANC are rewriting history,” said Allister Sparks, a veteran journalist and analyst and the co-author of Tutu: The Authorised Portrait. “They’re airbrushing people out. I don’t know of a street named after Desmond Tutu, and he was effectively the leader [of the anti-apartheid movement] for 15 years. I’m not trying to belittle the ANC, but they didn’t do it all.” Continue reading