“I saw the inconceivable mystery of a soul that knew no restraint, no faith, and no fear…” ― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
As his popularity plunged in the United States, President Barack Obama and the first lady went on an African excursion that included a somber visit to South Africa. There, Obama spoke emotionally about the man who so inspired him, fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner and former South African President Nelson Mandela.
Obama has always said that he is walking in the footsteps of greatness, in the footsteps of men like Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. But the truth is that Mandela is far more like Obama’s other mentor, Bill Ayers, than he is like Gandhi.
Then again, the truth is not something Obama seems to focus on. He mostly concerns himself with three things:
- The promotion of his African-American agenda.
- The shifting of America to the far left.
- His future legacy.
The ‘Door of No Return’
Part of that legacy for the President and the first lady begins with America’s collective guilt over slavery. Little wonder the first stop on the Obama African Express was Senegal.
The New York Daily News captured the story in its headline: “President Obama pays emotional visit to slavery museum.”
Never one to miss a photo opportunity, the President and first lady stood grim-faced at the “Door of No Return” as they visited the Maison des Ecslaves, the point where African slaves were shipped west until the mid-19th century.
No sooner did we learn about the President’s pilgrimage to the African slave house than we learned something new about the President. Yes, folks, he too has slave forefathers.
International Business Times reported:
Until recently, it was thought that Obama did not have any slavery roots — unlike most African-Americans — as his father was born in Kenya and his Caucasian mother was a Kansas native.
Last year, however, website Ancestry.com revealed the existence of a blood line connecting the President’s mother to the first African documented slave in the U.S., John Punch.
The President’s mother! This white lady has roots to slavery. The truth is that if we go back far enough in time, Obama’s father had roots to slave selling. (More blacks are culpable for selling African slaves, but that is an “inconvenient truth” and something liberals will not discuss.)
If we go back far enough, we all have roots to slavery. Each of us has ancestors back to the dawn of time. No doubt some of your and my ancestors were owned, perhaps by those damned Romans. Of course, that is all ancient history — nothing at all like what ended in the 1860s.
Obama’s Selective Memory
While our President can’t forget slave times from 150 years ago, he has amnesia regarding his hero, Mandela, and the atrocities committed by Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) from the 1960s into the 1990s.
I don’t have roots in Africa, but I spent a month in South Africa in 1990 with my uncle, Dick Myers. At that time, the country was in the grips of racial and tribal violence. (A great read on the atrocities being committed in 1990 is The Bangbang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War, written by photojournalists who covered it, Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva.)
The focus of my trip was to report on the political climate and whether subscribers should hold or sell their South African gold mining stocks.
While in Johannesburg, we had fancy accommodations that were incredibly cheap. (I think our suite cost $60 an evening because tourism ceased during this time of Western sanctions against the Pieter Willem Botha apartheid government.)
One night, Dick and I decided to take a late-night walk. A few blocks from the hotel, we were intercepted by two white South African soldiers, each packing submachine guns and wearing combat gear.
They told us that some supporters of the ANC, Mandela’s political party, wouldn’t hesitate to execute us on the spot. They escorted us back to our hotel lobby and left us with this: “Don’t be idiots!”
I also remember many South Africans, especially black South Africans, who despised Mandela. Scores of South Africans were convinced that Mandela was a dangerous man, and there was a lot of angst about his upcoming release from prison. Even more hated was his then-wife Winnie Mandela, because she would order executions of political opponents by having them “necklaced” by her gangsters. (“Necklacing” is a method of execution in which a gasoline-filled tire is placed around someone’s chest and arms and ignited.)
Back then, Mandela was seen by people of all races as a man who had not hesitated to use terror to promote the Marxist ideals of the ANC.
Madiba, The Terrorist
Beginning in the 1960s, South Africa was plagued by terrorism. Much of it was committed by the ANC’s guerrilla organization, the MK, which translated to “Spear of the Nation.” That organization was founded in 1961 by Mandela. The next year, Mandela was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
But in 1985, the Botha government offered to release Mandela if he would repudiate terrorism. Not a chance. South African History Online states: “Mandela communicates his refusal of the offer through his daughter, Zinzi Mandela, who reads his statement to this effect at a rally in Soweto on 10 February 1985. He states that the ANC’s [sic] only adopted violence as a means of protest ‘when other forms of resistance were no longer open to us.’”
It seems South African whites and other black groups were responsible for the terror being carried out by the ANC, including the Church Street car bombing in May 1983 that killed 19 people and injured 217 others.
This attack 30 years ago is ancient history to Obama. But it is not so easily forgotten by the people of South Africa, some of whom still have to stand up to the intimidation of Mandela’s political party. Last month, the Mail & Guardian reported that the ANC had lashed out at AfriForum’s youth wing for observing a minute of silence for civilians killed in ANC terror attacks:
On Tuesday, the ANC called AfriForum Youth “irrelevant” and “isolated”, following Monday’s event.
AfriForum Youth said the event celebrated the lives of 19 people killed in the 1983 Church Street bombings. AfriForum Youth’s national president Charl Oberholzer said the ANC tried to rewrite history by portraying its leaders as heroes.
“Thousands of innocent civilians, black and white, paid a terrible price during these violent attacks by the ANC. The event is not only a protest against the ANC’s biased rewriting of history in which ANC leaders are portrayed as blameless heroes, but also an opportunity to celebrate the lives of those who died in terror attacks,” Oberholzer said.
He said the ANC’s “dark history” was often “glossed over.”
“But the reality is that many families are still struggling to cope with the brutal way in which their families were murdered,” said Oberholzer.
“More than 500 people were killed by means of necklacing since 1984, hundreds were set alight while still alive and 250 were killed in bomb or landmine attacks by the ANC. Even though the ANC did sign the Geneva Convention in 1980 and undertook not to target ordinary South Africans, 80% of terror attacks by the ANC targeted innocent civilians,” he added.
ANC spokesperson, Keith Khoza, said AfriForum’s views were “unfortunate”, and said the ANC was not aware of the event.
He said it was necessary for the ANC to rewrite it’s history to some extent, because it had been distorted during apartheid.
But, he said, history had to be factual and based in reality. Khoza added the party encouraged people – “even white people” – to start documenting their own history, whether it occurred pre- or post-1994.
Even white people! How gracious of the ANC. How good of South Africa’s ruling party and Obama’s hosts to allow that “even white” people deserve some consideration.
Obama: An African Or American Leader?
Obama described Mandela, whom he refers to by his clan nickname Madiba, as a “hero for the world” as well as a “personal hero,” adding that Mandela’s legacy “will linger on throughout the ages.”
South African President and ANC leader Jacob Zuma was quick to add that Obama and Mandela “both carry the dreams of millions of people in Africa and in the diaspora who were previously oppressed.”
Silly me, I thought that Obama was supposed to carry the dreams of millions of Americans.
Yours in good times and bad,
P.S. The quote at the beginning of this article is from Heart of Darkness. The reference is about the character Kurtz, but I think it could apply to Obama or Mandela.
P.P.S. Have a happy Fourth of July!