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Hullabaloo


Thursday, December 05, 2013

 
It was a privilege to have lived when he lived

by digby

Nelson Mandela, standing in the dock before the South African Supreme Court in 1964, made a speech before he was sent off to spend most of the next 3 decades in prison. It concluded with this:
Above all, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be Africans. This makes the white man fear democracy. But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on colour, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another. The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs it will not change that policy.

This then is what the ANC is fighting. Their struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and their own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live. During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
Luckily for all of us, this great man lived to see his dream fulfilled. After all of his suffering he became president of South Africa and lived many years beyond as a living inspiration for people everywhere.
But read that whole speech from 1964 to also be reminded that for all of his historic sacrifice and reputation as a man of peace and rare forgiveness, he was a true political radical in his time. It's rare that a single person can come to be the living symbol of a movement's struggle and evolution but Nelson Mandela was that.

He died peacefully today at the age of 95. He was a true hero.

Here is his 1994 inaugural speech:


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