Historians say Western powers distorting the memory of Mandela

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Two Caribbean social commentators argued that the late Nelson Mandela must be remembered as an unrelenting champion of black rights and not just as a pacifist unifier as the Western establishment often paints him.

Pan-Africanist David Comissiong, a guest on OBSERVER Radio’s Big Issues programme on Sunday, was speaking following Mandela’s death on December 5 at the age of 95.

“I find nauseating the tributes that I hear coming from the established forces in the United States and Britain because these people really loved Mandela for all the wrong reasons,” Comissiong said.

“These people and the institutions they represented were utterly opposed to Mandela; they called him a terrorist.”

The Barbados-based attorney noted that for African people around the world, Mandela was a hero long before he was released from prison and long before he brokered racial reconciliation in South Africa after the end of apartheid.

“He was a hero for us because here was a man who was an implacable foe of the doctrine of white supremacy and its brother doctrine of black inferiority,” he said.

“Here was a man who set out to destroy apartheid and the whole philosophy behind it and was so committed to that cause that even when they imprisoned him for life he never once relinquished that cause.”

Meantime, Antiguan author Dorbrene O’Marde said the most important part of Mandela’s story was his work with the militant political group African National Congress (ANC).

In the 1960s, Mandela became the leader of the Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the military wing of the ANC and advocated sabotage against the South African apartheid regime.

O’Marde said the West does not focus on Mandela’s militant opposition to apartheid, but instead chooses to remember only his virtual pardoning of those who committed atrocities under the racist regime.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)