The Mandela story is quite popular, and it isn’t an exaggeration to say his story is almost known to all. However, pardon a recap of the said story, just in case there’s someone who has heard only half of it.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who died on the 5th of December 2013 at the very ripe age of 95 served as the first black elected President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He became president after he battled apartheid, was arrested and subsequently spent 27 years in prison. Mandela is regarded as a freedom fighter, the most famous black man, and a great leader to be emulated.
Undeniably, he earned all those accolades from his many deeds of goodwill to his nation, his people and the world at large. You’ll agree that its remarkable not to seek vengeance for being unfairly imprisoned for 27 years. Mandela was handed the opportunity to punish those that imprisoned him when he emerged as the president of South Africa, but his response was to forgive his jailers and preach political and interracial love and respect.
Those are, of course, all impressive and charming records.
But then, there are some ugly and less know facts about Mandela that, as some people say, only show that all humans are prone to err. Others believed such actions are ‘necessary evils’. Whereas some argue the credits and accolades awarded to Nelson are unnecessary. To them, Mandela should be reminded of his wrongs even while his praises are sang.
In respect to that, below are some facts about Mandela that are quite offensive to one’s sensibilities or morality.
Ugly Facts About Nelson Mandela
1. Mandela Endorsed The Killing of South Africans
Initially, Mandela’s strategy for combating apartheid was non-violent protests. But following the failure of this strategy, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC) known as the ‘Umkonto We Sizwe’ emerged. As reported, Umkonto We Sizwe was “responsible for at least 63 deaths on account of multiple bombings.” A chronology of their major attacks are highlighted below;
- 19 deaths and 217 injuries were recorded in 1983 as ACN armed wing bombed Church Street in Pretoria.
- 5 civilians died while 40 were injured in 1985 when cadre Andrew Sibusiso Zondo of the Umkonto We Sizwe masterminded an explosion.
- In 1986, there was the Durban beach-front bombing where a bomb was detonated in a bar. It killed 3 civilians whereas 69 were injured.
- In 1987, explosions were recorded in Johannesburg outside a court and at a military command center. It respectively killed 3, injured 10 and, killed one person while injuring 68 others.
- As 4 deaths and 18 case of injuries were reported when a bank in Roodepoort was bombed, 3 were killed in a bomb detonated outside magistrate court and a car bomb killed 2 and injured 37 civilians in 1988
- From 1985 to 1987, the ACN reported about 30 of their landmine explosions that resulted in 23 deaths whereas the government placed the figures at 57 explosions with 25 deaths.
Mandela acknowledged these attacks as “necessary evils” when his statement read by his daughter Zinzi said; “I am not a violent man. It was only when all other forms of resistance were no longer open to us that we turned to armed struggle.”
2. Mandela Befriended Dictators
With Mandela’s reputation as a freedom fighter that successfully battled the oppressive apartheid government of South Africa, it is expected that Mandela would frown at any government that chooses force over individual rights and freedom. Contrarily, Mandela who often was regarded as ‘the symbol of democracy’ left many confused when he befriended dictators like Fidel Castro who was heavily criticized by the Human Rights Watch for leading a repressive machinery government which deprived Cubans of their basic rights. And Muammar Gaddafi who took power in a coup d’etat, ruled for over 40 years and insisted on being the leader of Libya until his unpleasant death. Herald Sun narrated that president Mandela gave his country’s highest award to Libya’s dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who’d donated $10 million to the ANC and also to the corrupt Indonesian president Suharto, who donated $60 million.
Ultimately, these facts suggest that Mandela’s legacy as a man who champions freedom and democracy are conflicting.