Maybe it’s the contrarian in me, but when ever I see the world going into a collective grief spasm or orgy of self-righteousness, I want to go the other way.
So it was when Diana died. I found Blair’s self-serving tribute cringe-worthy. Similarly when the world was going into hysterics over Mother Teresa, I found myself contemplating the opposite. Indeed, Christopher Hitchens excellent book “The missionary position” entirely debunks that nonsense.
Consequently, the death of Mandela, or more precisely, the over the top reaction to it, has had the same effect.
Let me first say, this is in no way an endorsement of apartheid. And in a sense, Mandela was unlucky, he was on the wrong side of history. When you were a young African nationalist fighting foreign rule at the time, Marxism was the obvious point from which to do it.
But to adopt a position as a youthful idealist is one thing, to maintain it all through life is quite another. Mandela started life as a peaceful protestor but soon turned to violence and was imprisoned thus. Despite being in jail, he was still able to sign off on the 1983 Church Street bombing, killing 19 people.
The UN reckons that 21,000 people were killed during the apartheid regime, some 518 deaths being the direct responsibility of the loathsome security forces. The ANC killed many, many more via the charming practice of the infamous ‘necklace’ Indeed, seeing the BBC this morning giving so much time to the odious Jacob Zuma had me reaching for the anti-emetics.
His record in government was unimpressive. The lights go out regularly in South Africa these days and the country is the child rape capital of the world, outclassing even Pakistan. Don’t believe me, ask Oprah Winfrey. It is an uber-violent society with crappy, crumbling infrastructure and endemic corruption which leads to collapsed shopping Malls when corrupt contractors are appointed by corrupt officials.
Are poor urban South Africans any better off? Sure they get to vote, but all they have done is replaced a white political elite with a black one. I guess when you are born into the Thembu royal family it’s your destiny.
Lastly, he couldn’t quite bring himself to condemn the evil, murdering monster Mugabe of Zimbabwe. A word from him would have been catastrophic for Mugabe in a way comments from British politicians never could have been, but he bottled it.
I regret the loss of any human life, but no saint has died today.