MADIBA Nelson Mandela Dies at 95

Early life:
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Hendry Mphakanyiswa of the Tembu Tribe. Mandela himself was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand where he studied law. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party's apartheid policies after 1948. He went on trial for treason in 1956-1961 and was acquitted in 1961.

After the banning of the ANC in 1960, Nelson Mandela argued for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC. In June 1961, the ANC executive considered his proposal on the use of violent tactics and greed
that those members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela's campaign would not be stopped from doing so by the ANC. This led to the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment with hard labour. In 1963, when many fellow leaders of the ANC and the Umkhonto we Sizwe were arrested, Mandela was brought to stand trial with them for plotting to overthrow the government by violence.

His statement from the dock received considerable international publicity. On June 12,1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment. From 1964 to 1982, he
was incarcerated at Robben Island
Prison, off Cape Town; thereafter, he
was at Pollsmoor Prison, nearby on
the mainland.
During his years in prison, Nelson
Mandela's reputation grew steadily.
He was widely accepted as the most
significant black leader in South
Africa and became a potent symbol
of resistance as the anti-apartheid
movement gathered strength. He
consistently refused to compromise
his political position to obtain his
freedom.
Nelson Mandela was released on
February 11, 1990. After his release,
he plunged himself wholeheartedly
into his life's work, striving to attain
the goals he and others had set out
almost four decades earlier. In 1991,
at the first national conference of
the ANC held inside South Africa
after the organization had been
banned in 1960, Mandela was
elected President of the ANC.

Mandela Anti-Aparthied/Zionism:
We have assembled once again as
South Africans, our Palestinian
guests and as humanists to express
our solidarity with the people of
Palestine.
I wish to take this opportunity to
congratulate the organisers of the
event, particularly the United
Nations Information Centre and
the UNISA Centre for Arabic and
Islamic Studies for this magnificent
act of compassion, to keep the
flames of solidarity, justice and
freedom burning.
The temptation in our situation is
to speak in muffled tones about an
issue such as the right of the
people of Palestine to a state of
their own. We can easily be
enticed to read reconciliation and
fairness as meaning parity between
justice and injustice. Having
achieved our own freedom, we can
fall into the trap of washing our
hands of difficulties that others
faces.
Yet we would be less than human
if we did so.
It behoves all South Africans,
themselves erstwhile beneficiaries
of generous international support,
to stand up and be counted among
those contributing actively to the
cause of freedom and justice.
Even during the days of
negotiations, our own experience
taught us that the pursuit of
human fraternity and equality -
irrespective of race or religion -
should stand at the centre of our
peaceful endeavours. The choice is
not between freedom and justice,
on the one hand, and their
opposite, on the other. Peace and
prosperity; tranquility and security
are only possible if these are
enjoyed by all without
discrimination.
It is in this spirit that I have come
to join you today to add our own
voice to the universal call for
Palestinian self-determination and
statehood.
We would be beneath our own
reason for existence as government
and as a nation, if the resolution
of the problems of the Middle East
did not feature prominently on our
agenda.
When in 1977, the United Nations
passed the resolution inaugurating
the International Day of Solidarity
with the Palestinian people, it was
asserting the recognition that
injustice and gross human rights
violations were being perpetrated
in Palestine. In the same period,
the UN took a strong stand against
apartheid; and over the years, an
international consensus was built,
which helped to bring an end to
this iniquitous system.
But we know too well that our
freedom is incomplete without the
freedom of the Palestinians;
without the resolution of conflicts
in East Timor, the Sudan and other
parts of the world.
We are proud as a government,
and as the overwhelming majority
of South Africans to be part of an
international consensus taking root
that the time has come to resolve
the problems of Palestine.
Indeed, all of us marvelled at the
progress made a few years ago,
with the adoption of the Oslo
Agreements. Leaders of vision, who
saw problems not merely from the
point of view of their own narrow
constituency, had at least found a
workable approach towards
friendship and peaceful co-
existence in the Middle East.
I wish to take this opportunity to
pay tribute to these Palestinian
and Israeli leaders.
We are proud as humanists, that
the international consensus on the
need for the implementation of the
Oslo Agreements is finding
expression in the efforts of the
multitude of Israeli and Palestinian
citizens of goodwill who are
marching together, campaigning
together, for an end to
prevarication. These soldiers of
peace are indeed sending a
message to us all, that the day is
not far off, when Palestinian and
Jewish children will enjoy the gay
abandon of children of God in a
peaceful and prosperous region.
These soldiers of peace recognise
that the world we live in is rising
above the trappings of religious
and racial hatred and conflict. They
recognise that the spurning of
agreements reached in good faith
and the forceful occupation of land
can only fan the flames of conflict.
They know from their own
experience that, it is in a situation
such as this, that extremists on all
sides thrive, fed by the blood lust
of centuries gone by.
These Palestinian and Israeli
campaigners for peace know that
security for any nation is not
abstract; neither is it exclusive. It
depends on the security of others;
it depends on mutual respect and
trust. Indeed, these soldiers of
peace know that their destiny is
bound together, and that none can
be at peace while others wallow in
poverty and insecurity.
Thus, in extending our hands
across the miles to the people of
Palestine, we do so in the full
knowledge that we are part of a
humanity that is at one, that the
time has come for progress in the
implementation of agreements. The
majority of the world community;
the majority of the people of the
Middle East; the majority of
Israelis and Palestinians are suing
for peace.
But we know, that
all of us need to do much much
more to ensure that this noble
ideal is realised.
As early as February 1995, our
government formalised its relations
with the State of Palestine when
we established full diplomatic
relations. We are proud of the
modest technical assistance that
our government is offering
Palestine in such areas as Disaster
Management, women's
empowerment and assistance to
handicapped children. But the
various discussions with our
counterparts in Palestine are an
indication that we can do more.
We need to do more as
government, as the ANC and other
parties, as South Africans of all
religious and political persuasions
to spur on the peace process. All of
us should be as vocal in
condemning violence and the
violation of human rights in this
part of the world as we do with
regard to other areas. We need to
send a strong message to all
concerned that an attempt by
anyone to isolate partners in
negotiations from their own mass
base; and attempt to co-opt tes is
bound to hurt the peace process as
a whole.
We must make our voices heard
calling for stronger action by world
bodies as well as those states that
have the power, to act with the
same enthusiasm in dealing with
this deadlock as they do on other
problems in the Middle East.
Yes, all of us need to do more in
supporting the struggle of the
people of Palestine for self-
determination; in supporting the
quest for peace, security and
friendship in this region.
But at least we can draw comfort
from the fact that, our meeting
today is yet another small
expression of our empathy.
We hope that, by this humble act,
we are strengthening the voice of
peace and friendship in Israel and
Palestine; so that, as we enter the
new millennium, we shall all have
taken a giant stride towards a
world in which our humanity will
be the hallmark of our relations
across colour, religious and other
divides.
Adieu Freedom Fighter !