YOU CAN'T KEEP A GOVERNMENT ON ITS TOES IF YOU'RE CRAWLING ON YOUR BELLY
There is a saying in ibo land meant for those who spread ill will, bad rap and bad blood. For those who will smear others and engender strife the ibo's would forever remind you that a 'Fowl flies when it farts because the gods of the earth pursue it!'
When in 1913 a land use act depriving blacks 87 percent of their ancestral land was enacted, When in 1923 an act creating African slums to supply cheap labor to white industry was enacted, When in 1926 an act banning Africans from practising skilled trades was passed to law, When in 1927 an act establishing the British Crown within South Africa made a White Monarchy installed by the Queen supreme over all African aras, the gods had had enough. Finally, when in 1936 an act of an all white parliament removed Africans from the voters register even Nelson Mandela had had enough.
The African Mine Workers Union formed in 1940, determined to continue negotiations. However being met with disdain from a government that reneged on all accords and with the tacit support of Nelson Mandela, over 700, 000 mine workers of African descent went on strike, intent on using the Indian example in which Ghandi had secured better working conditions for South African Indians.
The demands of the Striking Mine Workers
1. Attainment of full citizenship... No one must be made to feel like a second class citizen in His own country.
2. Direct parliamentary representation for all... Majority rule and peace within the state go hand in hand
3. Land Use reforms... The government doesn't own my ancestral land where my father was buried! It bears his bones and any resource underneath has been given by the gods of my land for the sustenance of my people. I may wish to pay a certain agreed tax to the government for Security, Road, Water and Electricity but to deny me resource control is against all Natural Justice and there can be no peace without reform.
4. Education for all, Mass Education for Adults... Like Malala recently said before the UN, 'those who fight Western education are afraid'.
5. Promotion of African culture through deliberate investment in African Entertainment... For those who think Nollywood has nothing to do with National development, South Africans knew the tourism potential of a flourishing entertainment industry over 7 decades ago and under Mandela pursued an aggressive state legislation in favor of South African art. Do you wonder why South African music, film and cinema ruled Africa until the Nollywood challenge. Look no further than the History of the South African struggle.
Nelson travelled the country organizing support for the 5 principles above and more. He rallied resistance based on a strong socialist (and communist) ideals. He was friends with the Communist Party of South Africa and read Communist works more than any other. He had volumes as a lawyer of course. Most importantly his hob nobs with the jetsam and flotsam of communism was because he knew Africa is essentially communal though not communist. He knew that Capitalists hated Africa and only Communists would even sit in the same room with Africans at the time without pride and pre-ajudication. He however never hated any Capitalist he only hated domination in whatever form. He shared the same objective with the Communist party of South Africa - the unshakeable belief that African ideals can develop Africa with either western capital, eastern capital, middle eastern capital or preferably African Capital. Nelson encouraged African people to follow their own African beliefs. Even though white South Africa called themselves Afrikaans they lacked the spirit of Africa!
In 1961, Nelson Mandela made a speech before the National Action Council of the ANC "... The unprecedented intimidation by the state, the denial of our members the right to hold meetings, the incessant trailing and hounding of I, Nelson Rohilahla Mandela and my comrades by the special branch - an anti terrorism and anti - communism squad of police and military suppressors, collaborating with Prime Minister Margaret Tatcher, the heavy patrol of our premises by government and municipal police, the monitoring and spying of our movements and communications. These will not deter us. We shall stand firm and we shall stay at home... Non-collaboration is our weapon and we must use it to bring down this repressive government. We have decided not to collaborate with this government and we shall use that weapon fully and without reservation'. This was the speech that heralded the stay at home order given by Nelson to millions upon millions of South Africans. And did they comply in the face of threats from Government.
The above speech was so successful and is one of Nelsons greatest. So remarkable was it in its effects and so profound was its impact that Government fought back by launching all out against the man Nelson Mandela. HAD THEY KNOWN THAT BY ATTACKING A MAN WITH A FUNCTIONAL MORAL CENTER AND A STRONG ETHICAL FOUNDATION GLEANED FROM THE MAHATMA GHANDI AND THE HOLY BIBLE, THAT THEY WERE BIRTHING A LEGEND AND A FATHER OF MODERN AFRICA, the stupid white men would have left troublesome Nelson alone! They invoked the Suppression of Communism act and charged him! Stupidly, they locked him up for 27 years (not before he made another famous 4 hour speech in court) and as he lay in bed today, ill they immortalise him with July 18 as MANDELA DAY. My own contribution to the Legend of Mandela is to coin a new word with my writers license - MANDELISM : a brand of politics practiced by Nelson Mandela in which morality and ethics become the fulcrum of revolution.
In closing enjoy a copious extract from the famous 4 hour speech. An excerpt that has since become my religion and my MANDELA's CREED
'... The ANC ideology has always been the creed of African Nationalism. It isn't the concept of Nationalism expressed in the cry 'drive the white man to the sea'. The African Nationalism for which the ANC stands for is the concept of freedom and fulfillment for the African people in their own land. The most important document ever adopted by the ANC is the Freedom Charter. It is by no means a blueprint for a socialist state... The ANC has never at any time advocated a revolutionary change in the economic structure of the country, nor has it, to the best of my knowledge, ever condemned a capitalist society. I am an admirer of the Western Capitalist System... Of the parliamentary representative system... The Magna Carter... The petition of rights... The Bill of rights are all documents which like the ANCs Freedom charter I hold in high esteem. The British political institutions, the country's system of Justice attract my deepest admiration. I regard the British parliament as the most democratic in the world. The American Congress, the doctrine of seperation of powers as well as the independence of the judiciary arouse in me similar sentiments.
'... Having said this, the lack of human dignity experienced by Africans is the direct result of a western policy of white supremacy. White supremacy implies black inferiority. Legislations promote this notion... Blacks doing menial jobs which whites will never do promote this notion.. Our struggle is a struggle of the African people. It is a struggle inspired by our suffering and experience. It is a struggle for the right to live...
'... During my lifetime I have ddicated my life to struggle for the African people. I have fought against white domination. I have fought against black domination. I have cherishd the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be it is an ideal for which I'm willing to die'
HAPPY 95th, MADIBA
12 noon, Nigerian Time
July 18th, UN World Mandela Day
Iroko Ndubisi Obasi