The Strug­gle against for­get­ting

Our prophets should be hon­oured while they are still alive, writes Mole­batsi Masedi

African Times - - Leader - Mole­batsi Masedi is a Polok­wane, Lim­popo based pro­po­nent of rad­i­cal so­cio-eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion. Tweeter: @Mole­bat­siMasedi

THE ANC and the gov­ern­ment it leads haven’t done much to pre­serve the his­tory of this coun­try and the pro­tracted strug­gle that brought forth free­dom and democ­racy. This con­clu­sion comes haunt­ingly to mind as the coun­try and the world are thrown into mourn­ing af­ter the death of Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela.

Madik­izela-Man­dela her many short­com­ings not­with­stand­ing, played a huge role in the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle. With Nel­son Man­dela and oth­ers in Robben Is­land she stood in as the face of the peo­ple’s quest for free­dom.

For her re­silience she bore the brunt of the apartheid regime’s se­cu­rity ma­chin­ery which gave her no respite. She was raided, de­tained and gen­er­ally ha­rassed. When this ap­peared not to work as she as de­fi­ant as ever, they ban­ished her to Brand­fort in the Free State.

Madik­izela-Man­dela’s ban­ish­ment was meant to sep­a­rate her from her tra­di­tional sup­port base in Soweto. In the logic of the se­cu­rity po­lice, this dis­place­ment was meant to isolate and even­tu­ally break her. The bonus would be her turn­ing against the strug­gle for her peace and se­cu­rity.

The apartheid regime would try it with Madiba by of­fer­ing him early re­lease from prison on con­di­tion he de­nounced the armed strug­gle and re­tired to his ru­ral hin­ter­land to farm or worst still, be co-opted into the Transkei Ban­tus­tan pol­i­tics. Just as co-op­tion wouldn’t work on Madiba, it didn’t work with Win­nie ei­ther. In­stead her ban­ish­ment and harass­ment saw her grow in stature and in­flu­ence, to a point that bor­dered on her be­ing un­touch­able.

In her un­touch­able sta­tus the ANC and its le­gal net­works in the coun­try got scared by her com­bat­ive ut­ter­ances and words. At the in­struc­tions of the ANC ex­ile mis­sion, a struc­ture was setup to rein her in and cool her down. When this didn’t work, the mass demo­cratic move­ment de­nounced and dis­tanced it­self from her and her ac­tiv­i­ties.

To­day Win­nie is show­ered with praises from ev­ery­where, bar un­re­pen­tant racists who fear her in death as it was in life.

Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela is no more. What re­mains are con­flict­ing mem­o­ries of her colour­ful life. In life as in death, she is mem­o­rable. She has been el­e­vated to a cult sta­tus, all but a hand­ful of racists wouldn’t hes­i­tate to gen­u­flect be­fore her as they would to their deities.

She has even been granted an of­fi­cial fu­neral in recog­ni­tion of her con­tri­bu­tions to the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle. This recog­ni­tion is con­ferred by the same party that wanted to freeze and can her. Even postapartheid she was given a bit role as a deputy min­is­ter in Man­dela’s cab­i­net. This bit role was taken from her and she would be sub­jected to fur­ther de­pra­va­tions.

If only the love, care and at­ten­tion that Madik­izela-Man­dela is re­ceiv­ing to­day were given when she was still alive she would have de­parted a happy and ful­filled per­son than she ended up be­ing.

Julius Malema in his brazen way ex­pressed dis­dain at the out­pour­ing of grief and praises on Win­nie Man­dela. He de­cried more those he ac­cused of hypocrisy be­cause in life they ill-treated her and caused her much hurt. I guess it was this per­ceived hypocrisy and ill­treat­ment of Madik­izela-Man­dela that led the EFF to think she could throw her weight be­hind them. She didn’t go over to the red berets, in­stead she held hope that Malema and his rag tag army would return home to the ANC and wished this to hap­pen in her life time.

Now that she is de­parted, will Malema heed her call and lead the mi­gra­tion back to the ANC. At least the re­la­tions be­tween him and the new ANC lead­er­ship has thawed. Re­cently the EFF and the ANC voted to­gether for the mo­tion on land ap­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion and in the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence against An­ton Trol­lip in the Nel­son Man­dela Bay metro.

Be­fore break­ing down at the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion Memo­rial Ser­vice for Madik­izela-Man­dela ear­lier this, grand­daugh­ter Ndileka Man­dela said that her grand-mother was given a raw deal in life.

Speak­ing at the same ser­vice Nel­son Man­dela’s widow Graca Machel threw the gaunt­let at all those who pay­ing glow­ing trib­utes to Madik­izela-Man­dela, she asked whether a year down the line their words would have borne tan­gi­ble re­sults. Or whether the two weeks of out­pour­ing of trib­utes would amount to noth­ing.

The chal­lenge to the ANC is in keep­ing Madik­izela-Man­dela’s name and legacy alive. Their new found love and recog­ni­tion for her has laid a foun­da­tion to build upon a last­ing memo­rial to her con­tri­bu­tions to the strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion.

Madik­izela-Man­dela more than any other per­son bore most of the brunt of apartheid re­pres­sion and bru­tal­ity. In free­dom and democ­racy she was given lit­tle recog­ni­tion. It took her death for the na­tion to rise in uni­son to honour and cel­e­brate her.

It can’t only be in death that we honour and cel­e­brate our great ci­ti­zens. Our prophets have to be hon­oured when they are still alive and it should be done here in the coun­try of their birth.

To spare it­self fur­ther em­bar­rass­ment the must write into the coun­try’s his­tory all the nar­ra­tives of our long walk to free­dom. In this nar­ra­tive noth­ing should be left out, it should be a warts and all story that will not have bi­ases but be truth­ful and ob­jec­tive. Many post lib­er­a­tion so­ci­eties have gone to all ex­tends to record their his­to­ries for preser­va­tion so that gen­er­a­tions to come get a sense of where they come from.

Now that Madik­izela-Man­dela has jogged our mem­o­ries of where we come from be­fore free­dom and what went on then, let us bring our his­tory in the pub­lic do­main. Over and above strug­gling for free­dom and democ­racy, we also fought against for­get­ting.

Madik­izela-Man­dela’s huge shadow that looms large over the coun­try is a good start­ing point to plug the glar­ing holes in our his­tory. Rest in Power Mama Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela. You ran a great race. It is now left to the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion to con­tinue where you left off. That’s the most the coun­try can do in your mem­ory and many who passed away be­fore.

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