Of all the nations in what we know as sub-Saharan Africa, The Republic of South Africa stood out as a beacon of hope on a ravaged continent. Civil war, genocide, brutality, gut-wrenching poverty and massive corruption have ripped Africa like a monstrous claw, gouging parallel trenches of misery as deep as the Rift Valley itself. The Death of Mandela, the Birth of Despair: A South African Trilogy is the story of how a nation, divided between white and black; poverty and prosperity; beauty and savagery, came together under one man – Nelson Mandela; the lion; the Father of the Nation – and was then torn apart by scavengers, as the lion lay dying.
Africa – for those outsiders who have visited on more than a mere two-week vacation – is a majestic, haunting and truly breathtaking continent; to stand on the plains of Kenya and stare up at the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, across the border in Tanzania, is an experience that puts one at peace with the world and makes one wish for nothing more than simplicity and tranquility – both within oneself and throughout the continent. One can drive at dusk along the dusty, uneven roads of any African village or town and see the locals – in their random mixture of western-style clothing and traditional garb – gathered in groups, walking with friends or heading home with sundry provisions balanced atop their heads. Often, one will hear bursts of African pop music, with its up-tempo, hypnotic, repetitive rhythms and cheerful chants; always, one will smell food being prepared.
The tale of tragedy that is African history was written by white imperialists and black Africans alike. The British Empire, Germany, France, Portugal, the Netherlands – as well as Arab conquerors and settlers – divided the tribal Africans into new nations, in which they were often forced to live side by side with traditional enemies. Inevitably, this sowed the seeds of genocide and civil war. The attempt to supplant traditional belief systems with the organized and alien faiths of Christianity and Islam contributed to the general unrest.
The Africans, for their part, followed corrupt and greedy African politicians who promised to lead them out from under the oppression of white imperialism. Those same leaders betrayed their people at every turn; enriching themselves and raping their countries’ natural resources with the same voracity as the white rulers before them. Additionally, however, they used their power to settle tribal and religious scores; they staffed their governments and armies with loyal supporters, members of their extended families and tribal kin. Then they turned on their ‘enemies’ with a level of savagery that can only be described as pure, undiluted evil.
Few sub-Saharan nations completely avoided this historical pattern. Yet, at the southern tip of the continent, two nations emerged as stable and prosperous havens. Those two nations were ruled by whites. They were called Southern Rhodesia – a British colony later known as the Republic of Rhodesia – and the Republic of South Africa. Rhodesia has its own story: Torn apart by the followers of two power-hungry, black rival politicians; submerged in the brutal ‘Bush War’; betrayed – to all intents and purposes – by white-ruled South Africa and finally emerging as the wounded, chaotic, pariah state of Zimbabwe; ruled over, to this day, by Robert Mugabe. Some feel he is a monster. Others say he’s a hero.
South Africa fared better: Although not known to most who are unfamiliar with the country’s history; South Africa became the destination of choice for black Africans looking to migrate away from the turmoil and crushing poverty of other central and southern African countries. During the Apartheid years, South Africa excluded Blacks from political power and forbade them from sharing facilities reserved for whites. The pain of being disenfranchised in this way is reflected in hundreds of books and papers about Apartheid, most of which describe the torment of racial inequality.
Many South Africans who were not white were virtually imprisoned in the overcrowded and, largely, lawless ‘townships’, where dwellings were constructed of virtually any material that could be obtained. Those that had work were domestic servants, gardeners, servers or laborers.
It was amid this squalor and hopelessness that a political activist movement began planting the seeds of hope, but watering those seeds with the same acid that many others, across the continent, had used before. This movement was the African National Congress, or ANC. Such a movement needs a sympathetic face; a figure who does not openly deal in political extremism and ideological prosthelytizing, but who speaks of peace and hope and humanity; a figure who yearns for freedom and justice, rather than grasps for power and control. Although the ANC had a number of prominent activists, it eventually found the face and the character it needed in one Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
After nearly three decades in Prison, Mandela emerged as the ANC’s leader and, after a time, President of a new South Africa. Apartheid was cast aside and a nation that could so easily have spiraled into civil war, wholesale racial slaughter and political anarchy dared to dream of reconciliation, prosperity and equality.
The purpose of this article, and the two that will follow – in a series entitled The Death of Mandela, the Birth of Despair: A South African Trilogy – is to expose the extreme greed and corruption of the Mandela family as he is imprisoned once again, this time in a Pretoria hospital. The greed that springs forth from his family sits in direct opposition to everything he, Mandela, did while he was alive. There are some who consider him a “terrorist” because he sought to overthrow his country’s government, but most of the world views him as a supreme hero. These articles will tell the story of how South Africa journeyed from the new hope and aspirations that came with Mandela’s ascendency to national leadership to the corruption, mistrust, betrayal and looming chaos that followed his retirement from power, his failing health and eventual demise, and how that corruption is taking place at the hands of those closest to him- his family. The Las Vegas Guardian Express has compiled this tale with the hard work and dedication of a team of writers, reporters and unique sources who’s credibility is beyond question. What this trilogy will reveal is a true account of turmoil and deceit within the South African political system and amongst various Mandela family-members; daughters and sons who should be by his side in his last moments, but who, instead, are concerned only with their own happiness.
Graham J Noble