Friday, 6 December 2013
Mandela has gone. That he was a good man, and probably a great one, seems beyond dispute and humanity will be the poorer for his departing. Now may not be the time to draw attention to the failings of the ANC and the continuing gross economic inequality of South Africa but one thing is for sure. During the next few days, alongside the very genuine grieving and sense of loss, there will also be an unprecedented outpouring of hypocrisy and nowhere more so than in this country. Flowery tributes for the man will be mouthed by those who felt that apartheid was the natural order of things and that South Africa would have been a better place had Mandela and his comrades hanged. Others will praise Mandela and heap scorn on the Afrikaners safe in the knowledge that for the wealthy, ANC South Africa is open for business as usual. As Mandela's old comrade Denis Goldberg was quick to point out this morning, the gains for the South African working class have been minimal. Meanwhile, the North London Guardian reading middle class will bow their heads, hum Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica and move heaven and earth to ensure that their kids don't have to go to a school with a large proportion of black pupils. It is for all of that, as well as for the loss of Mandela, that I grieve.