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CrazyFruits » WORLD NEWS AND SPORTS FROM SKY » Remembering why Mandela chose to visit Brixton

Remembering why Mandela chose to visit Brixton

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To truly honour the South African icon, tell his story not just soundbites

To truly honour the South African icon, tell his story not just soundbites
Written by Symeon Brown
06/12/2013 02:00 PM

Image Text:
WELCOME TO BRIXTON: Nelson Mandela speaks to a young girl during his 1996 visit to the area
THE TROUBLE with tributes for great men is that most are made with good intentions by those who misunderstood them. In this case of Nelson Mandela, it is no different.
Britain’s broadcasters have begun the inquest into Mandela’s ‘legacy’ and ‘influence’.
Politicians are usually a bad place to start an investigation into a saint, being creatures who live off the currency of self-piety. However, one of the outstanding comments on Mandela has come from an elected parliamentarian in Angela Smith MP who tweeted: “Don't attack those who criticised Mandela in the past but who now pay tribute; that is to deny transformative, healing power of a great man.”
In 2006, Cameron apologised for the Conservative’s branding of the Mandela led African National Congress (ANC) as “terrorists” and Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to support sanctions against apartheid in South Africa. Smith is right in defending those who had in the past switched their allegiance from foe to friend in time for Madiba’s post-90s celebrity but she is also wrong, too.
The cowardice of opposing Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement when they had no popularity and befriending them when they found it is forgivable. Rewriting history is not.
The popular story as told by The Telegraph’s chief foreign correspondent David Blair and others that just "one human being can change the course of history" and apartheid was about "fear" rather than "racism" not only removes Mandela from a movement of millions but it locks Mandela’s story within South Africa.
Mandela was a global statesman because the struggle he fought for went beyond borders from Birmingham, Alabama, to Brixton.
Perhaps most telling of this was Mandela’s decision to visit Brixton on his first state visit to England as his country’s first black President.
Brixton? Yes, that Brixton caricatured as home to radicals, panthers and leftist sects.
Brixton is seen in many quarters as the home of Black British civil rights activism and Mandela’s visit in 1996 along with his intervention in the Stephen Lawrence campaign highlighted by The Voice places Mandela as part of an unconsidered internationalism.
There will be British school children who will ask two questions: “Who is this Nelson and what’s he got do with me?” because nobody told them the link between Soweto and Brent South.
It is noted that it is rare that political icons of Mandela’s stature from Martin Luther King to JFK rarely live long enough to tell their tale but this does not consider the most common way legends die: historical revisionism - a legacy rewritten to suit the writer’s current motives.
MLK is most referenced for a single sentence in a speech without it being placed in the context of more necessary speeches that came after, including “Where do we go from here?” and “Go tell it on the mountain.”
A presumptuous man might suggest the fear of being rewritten as passive and all things to all people was what drove Madiba’s last great work: the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory - Mandela’s impressive digital archive on his work; a preservation project that remains ongoing.
Our moment of truth is how we reconcile the Mandela Britain and South Africa’s establishment want to remember and the global civil rights movement Nelson that he led.
The journalism of the day is biased towards the soundbite over the substance of the story and so there is a danger that Mandela’s influence will be heard loudly in our politician's platitudes without his silence in their policies being scrutinised.
Remembering Mandela correctly is a challenge to archivists, historians and most importantly the journalists tasked with writing the first draft of history.
Posted on: 06/12/2013 02:00 PM


That was a very happy gathering bless him

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