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Why anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela was once labelled a terrorist – National



Why anti apartheid hero Nelson Mandela was once labelled a terrorist National


It’s been 25 years since Nelson Mandela won the first all-races election in South Africa, triumphing over the legalized racial segregation of apartheid and establishing himself as a hero only a scant few years after he was widely labelled a terrorist.

Mandela was once considered a criminal in his own country and a communist in the eyes of the United States, where he remained on a terrorism watch list until 2008.

Mandela’s terrorist label has largely faded into the background as South Africa marks the anniversary of his historic election victory on April 24, 1994. However, it was the dominant narrative around him when he began his 27 years behind bars in 1962.

“I’m an ordinary human being with weaknesses, some of them fundamental,” Mandela told an audience at Rice University in Houston in 1999.

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

Here’s why Mandela the “sinner” was once considered a terrorist.

A hard-edged political activist

Mandela became involved in politics from a young age, and was one of the first to call for armed resistance to apartheid through his political party, the African National Congress (ANC).

He was kicked out of university for organizing a student strike in 1940, founded the ANC’s Youth League in 1944 and started aggressively campaigning against apartheid in the years that followed. He encouraged black South Africans to defy the government’s racist segregation laws around education, employment, housing and marriage, and was banned from several locations for his efforts.

A picture taken by Jurgen Schadeberg on Oct. 13, 1958, shows Nelson Mandela, right, and Moses Kotane, left, leaving the court after prosecutors withdrew an indictment for treason. The photo was hanging in Rivonia, South Africa on June 19, 2008.

AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

Mandela and the ANC continued to encourage anti-apartheid protests in South Africa until 1960, when the government banned the party following several violent incidents. The worst of these clashes became known as the Sharpeville Massacre, during which police opened fire on a crowd of anti-apartheid marchers, killing 69 people and wounding 186 others.

Mandela responded to the ban by going underground in 1961 to found the ANC’s armed wing, the Umkhonto we Sizwe, which means “Spear of the Nation” in Zulu. He spent the next year travelling throughout Africa and Europe, studying guerrilla warfare and building support for the ANC abroad.

Mandela would later say in an interview that the ANC’s armed struggle “was forced on us by the government.”

South Africa’s government charged Mandela with incitement and illegally leaving the country upon his return in 1962, and sentenced him to five years in prison. The courts extended Mandela’s sentence to life in 1964, after he and several other ANC leaders were convicted of treason for trying to sabotage the government.

His critics painted him as a dangerous terrorist bent on leading a destructive communist revolution at the time, and they warned that his ideas would touch off tremendous bloodshed.

“I do not deny that I planned sabotage,” Mandela told the court at his trial. “I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by whites.”

A political prisoner

Mandela and his ANC compatriots were shipped off to the notorious Robben Island penal colony after their trial in 1964. The government prohibited news media from publishing Mandela’s photos or quotes, but he and his allies were still able to smuggle messages out of prison throughout their term. Meanwhile, the exiled ANC urged black South Africans to make the country “ungovernable” until apartheid was ended.

Many people were killed in protests, and the ANC’s armed wing was linked to several high-profile bombings that killed South African civilians throughout the 1980s, prompting some among the country’s white minority to blame the “terrorist” Mandela.

Mandela ultimately served 18 years on Robben Island and 27 years behind bars overall. He eventually became the world’s most famous political prisoner, as foreign governments moved to sanction and condemn South Africa for apartheid.

WATCH BELOW: Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island legacy

“People tend to measure themselves by external accomplishments, but jail allows a person to focus on internal ones, such as honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, generosity and an absence of variety,” Mandela once said, according to a quote at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. “You learn to look into yourself.”

Party banned in the U.S. and Canada

Mandela’s plight earned him plenty of international attention and sympathy through the 1980s.

However, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dragged their heels on the apartheid issue through much of that period, amid Cold-War concerns that the ANC was accepting help from the Soviet Union. Thatcher described the ANC as a “typical terrorist organization,” while Reagan condemned terrorist and communist “elements” within the party.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, South African anti-apartheid activist, dead at 81

The U.S. Department of Defense added the ANC and its leader, Mandela, to a list of “key regional terrorist groups” in 1988. The report cited several bombing incidents perpetrated by the group between 1980 and 1988.

“Although ANC operations have not posed any direct threat to U.S. assets or personnel in South Africa, the indiscriminate nature of recent attacks raises the danger of Americans becoming inadvertent victims,” the report said.

Canada also had a complicated relationship with the anti-apartheid movement. Then-prime minister Brian Mulroney urged Thatcher and Reagan to do more to help Mandela and his anti-apartheid crusade.

However, the Canadian government also banned members of the ANC from entering the country without a visa. The ban stood for decades, and was not lifted until 2012.

Terrorist no more

The South African government started moving toward an end to apartheid in 1989, after newly-elected president F.W. de Klerk came to power.

De Klerk set Mandela free on Feb. 11, 1990, and allowed him to resume control of the newly-restored ANC party in South Africa ahead of elections in 1994.

WATCH BELOW: Nelson Mandela celebrates his first day of freedom

In his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela fondly recalls the moment he left the prison hand-in-hand with his wife, Winnie.

“As I finally walked through those gates … I felt — even at the age of seventy-one — that my life was beginning anew,” Mandela wrote.

In this Sunday, Feb. 11, 1990, file photo, Nelson Mandela and wife Winnie, walk hand-in hand-with their raised clenched fists upon Mandela’s release from Victor Verster prison, near Cape Town, South Africa.

AP Photo/Greg English

Mandela and de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, a year before Mandela won the presidency in a landslide all-races vote.

“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world,” he said in his 1994 inauguration speech.

“Let freedom reign. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement! God bless Africa!”

WATCH BELOW: Remembering Nelson Mandela after his death in 2013

Mandela remained on the U.S. terror watch list for nearly two decades after his release, although he was still allowed into the country to visit the United Nations and the White House. Congress passed a measure to remove Mandela and the ANC from the U.S. terror watchlist in 2008, at the urging of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

Mandela also paid three visits to Canada after his release, and was granted honorary citizenship in 2001. However, the honour was delayed because Saskatchewan MP Rob Anders of the Canadian Alliance, refused to vote for a former “communist and terrorist.”

Anders stood by his comment after Mandela died in 2013, and highlighted an anti-Mandela obituary that called him a terrorist.

“I have previously provided my thoughts on Nelson Mandela,” he told Global News in an email at the time. “I will let history be the judge.”

With files from Reuters and the Associated Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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