When Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa,he could have opted for revenge, he could have treated the white minority of that country exactly the way he and his people had been treated. He absolutely would have been justified, he was locked away for 27 years of his life for standing on the principle that all men are created equal.
He had witnessed genocide inflicted on his people by an illegitimate Government formed by the white racial minority in his country, on the continent of Africa. What Nelson Mandela did transformed him from a human-rights/civil-rights warrior, to a great states-man. He chose reconciliation. Nelson Mandela embarked on healing wounds, he forgave those who had used and abused him. That made him better than me. It was that spirit of kindness and forgiveness which allowed the entire continent of Africa to be raped by the continent of Europe, and the innumerable deaths that will never be accounted for.
What is it which allows us a race to be better than those who hate and abuse us? What is it which allows us to forgive so readily, those who have done the most egregious harm to us?
Four hundred years after the first African was brought to the Americas, after the most despicable form of genocide, their descendants are still fighting an existential fight in America, a land their fore-parents slaved for , was raped, brutalized and murdered for. As if that is not enough, as if four hundred years is not enough, the white power structure in America still uses institutional racism to suppress and marginalize African Americans in this their own country.
It should be established for posterity that black people lived here side by side with the native people long before Christopher Columbus and Europeans figured out that the world wasn’t flat. Blacks lived in peace with their neighbors long before Europeans figured out they wouldn’t fall off the edge of the earth. The notion of discovering land where people lived is a lie which is lost on no one. Christopher Columbus and the European powers stole the land. The fall-out from the ensuing genocide which was to follow, is still being felt today by African-Americans, and the remnants of native people who survived the murderous onslaught.
As we keep vigil at the virtual bedside of this great stalwart of decency, I cannot but reflect that after Marcus Garvey , Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Hue Newton, Emit Till, and countless other heroes have come and gone the institution of entrenched racism still persists in America. Yesterday the Supreme Court all but gutted the Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed that Blacks would simply have the right to vote. The premise of that decision is that the South of 1965 has changed. The irony of that conclusion is that Southern states did not have an epiphany, suddenly realizing that what they were doing was inherently and morally wrong. Southern states were made to do the right thing. As per the Supreme court, the Voting Rights Act became a victim of it’s own success. We African people are a good and decent people, we must get back to the principles of King and Mandela, Of Garvey, and Tutu, we are a proud people. I salute you Nelson Mandela, I pray for you and your family.