Monday, July 18, 2011

Mandela called a devil by a street protester

Nelson Madiba Mandela

As South Africa and the rest of the world celebrated Mandela’s birthday and put in their sixty seven minutes worth of good deeds, out here in Welkom, South Africa, one man had a different idea. Were I not a first hand eye witness, I might not have believed what I saw. I will therefore desist from taking offence if you should choose not to believe me.

Marching into the city centre was a dreadlocked black man, dressed in a black robe, black trousers and walking bare footed. Around his dreadlocks, was a bandana decorated in Rastafarian colours. Before you query what on earth I am on about and what bare footed Rastafarians have to do with Mandela, read on esteemed reader!

This unshod character was on a one man march, trudging on the tar as effortlessly as if he had shoes on, while he held up a placard on which was painted the words, “Happy Birthday Devil!” Although I did not ask him who this devil is, I did not need to be a nuclear physicist to make a logical conclusion. Why the shock, some of you may ask? I am not naive enough to think that everyone adores Mandela, and I am aware that even among some black South Africans, a minority exists that believes that his role in the country’s struggle is over elevated and underplays the role of other revolutionaries. Others believe that he is bordering on being a human idol and that he risks being propelled into a religious cult figure by his supporters. Some websites have made unsubstantiated claims that he is linked to secret societies such as freemasonry.  Needless to say, there are also many of his former political foes who will never do cartwheels out of love for Madiba.

Despite having this knowledge of what exists on the other side of the Mandela coin, it still remains a weird sight to observe someone making so bold and strong a statement. The expression on his face hinted at someone who really believed in his cause and was not merely seeking attention. If some local news people do not get hold of this man and interview him, we will never know the reasons for his sentiments. As bitter a pill as it may be for most of the world to swallow, the sight of this anti-Madiba demonstrator waving his unsavoury placard has one positive twist to it. It is a reminder that Madiba’s personal sacrifice was meant to benefit all the people in South Africa. He fought for the right for all to have their say, even those who choose to call him a devil.

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