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Arabica Robusta

Nelson Mandela passes away - his struggle continues | ROAR Magazine - 0 views

  • After a protracted battle with lung illness, and a long and tumultuous life that led from tribal royalty to armed struggle and, after 27 years of political imprisonment, to an overwhelming victory in the country’s first racially inclusive democratic elections, Father Madiba — as the former President was affectionately known by his people — is finally at rest. He will now stand beside Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the pantheon of iconic freedom fighters.
  • The story of post-apartheid South Africa, and the mixed legacy of Mandela’s heroic struggle for freedom, must certainly qualify as one of the most authentic tragedies in modern history.
  • The reproduction of socio-economic segregation and old-fashioned forms of state oppression continue unabated. Last year’s Marikana massacre saw 34 striking mineworkers murdered by police, with several unarmed men summarily executed at close range while lying face-down in the dust.
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  • As a young shackdweller put it in the award-winning documentary Dear Mandela, “what he has been jailed for has never been achieved.” Now that the legend has passed away and his liberation movement has caved in to its own short-sighted desire for state power and material riches, new freedom fighters are emerging on the scene — in the form of autonomous movements like Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Mandela Park Backyarders — who, fighting to defend the livelihoods of poor South Africans, stress their independence from political parties and instead seek to enact direct democracy in their everyday struggle for survival, dignity and liberation.
  • While Mandela’s symbolic leadership helped unite a country that teetered on the brink of racial violence or even civil war, a new form of political activism will be needed to help South Africa emerge from the deep-rooted socio-economic divisions and widespread political abuse that still persist.
  • The Mandelas of the future will be faceless and plural; they will be nameless multitudes of disaffected poor people — those who grew up in the Rainbow Nation and have learned as much from Mandela’s unrivaled moral fortitude as from the many mistakes he made on his long march to freedom, not least his embrace of a neoliberal economic policy framework. Today’s liberation movements are here to remind us that the only appropriate way to honor Nelson Mandela’s legacy is not to beatify the man but to take his struggle to its logical conclusion.
  • Praise for him is based, as Jerome states, on his sacrifice, but there is no defending him post-release. His time in office, and the subsequent years, have been marked by corruption and self interest.
  • In office Mandela presided over the deception while his right-hand man, Cyril Ramaposa, handled the bribes and graft etc. They both got rich, and the people who put them in power actually got poorer. South Africa is a revolution betrayed, Mandela represents its Thermidor. He is a reactionary, pure and simple, Debordian spectacle concealing a squalid fraud.
Arabica Robusta

Pambazuka - 'Walk to work' and lessons of Soweto and Tahrir Square - 0 views

  • The memory of Tahrir Square feeds opposition hopes and fuels government fears. For many in the opposition, Egypt has come to signify the promised land around the proverbial corner. For many in government, Egypt spells a fundamental challenge to power, one that must be resisted, whatever the cost.
  • Many asked whether the Egyptian revolution will spread South of the Sahara. And they responded, without a second thought: No! Why not? Because, media pundits said, sub-Saharan societies are so divided by ethnicity, so torn apart by tribalism, that none can achieve the degree of unity necessary to confront political power successfully.

    This response makes little sense to me. For this answer resembles a caricature. Nowhere in the history of successful struggles will you find a people united in advance of the movement. For the simple reason that one of the achievements of a successful movement is unity. Unity is forged through struggle.
  • Soweto was a youthful uprising. In an era when adults had come to believe that meaningful change could only come through armed struggle, Soweto pioneered an alternative mode of struggle.
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  • The potential of popular struggle lay in sheer numbers, guided by a new imagination and new methods of struggle.
    • Arabica Robusta
       
      a mode of non-violent social movement: numbers, imagination and methods.
  • Biko forged a vision with the potential to cut through these boundaries.

    Around that same time, another event occurred. It too signaled a fresh opening. This was the Palestinian Intifada. What is known as the First Intifada had a Soweto-like potential. Like the children of Soweto, Palestinian children too dared to face bullets with no more than stones.
  • Even though the Egyptian Revolution has come more than three decades after Soweto, it evokes the memory of Soweto in a powerful way. This is for at least two reasons.
  • First, like Soweto in 1976, Tahrir Square in 2011 too shed a generation’s romance with violence.
  • The second resemblance between Soweto and Tahrir Square was on the question of unity. Just as the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa had uncritically reproduced the division between races and tribes institutionalised in state practices, so too had the division between religions become a part of the convention of mainstream politics in Egypt.

    Tahrir Square innovated a new politics. It shed the language of religion in politics, but it did so without embracing a militant secularism that would totally outlaw religion in the public sphere. It thus called for a broader tolerance of cultural identities
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