Rolihlahla (Nelson) Mandela

I'd like to add my tributes to the millions of others that have and will be paid to Rolihlahla (Nelson) Mandela, which he so richly deserves.


If it wasn't for his stature, influence and grace in the face of the injustice he suffered, it is hard to believe that South Africa could have made such a peaceful transition from white minority rule to democracy. Heddwch i'w lwch.

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Welsh not British said...

If only the unionist politicians that speak so highly of him would do the same for their people that he did for his.

Anonymous said...

Exactly WnB.

I prefer.....'"Huna mewn Hedd"

Anonymous said...

We mustn't forget that he and his friends weren't always 'good'. Forget not, he relished in the persecution of homosexuals, attributed black poverty to lack of ambition and was quite happy to appease a brutal dictator in a neighbouring country.

And it was probably his wife, a true modern-day terrorist of the most chilling kind, that did more than anyone to keep Mandela in the limelight during his incarceration.

As with Diana, Princess of Wales, we would do well to reign back on some of the emotional outpouring.

MH said...

I don't think any one of us can describe ourselves as good, 21:06. Mandela was able to be what he was because of his record in fighting for freedom from oppression, because of his extended imprisonment, and because of his emphasis on truth and reconciliation when it might have been so much easier to use power to exact vengeance. This made him into a figurehead. And as a figurehead, all races in South Africa were able to unite in looking up to him with respect. This approach saved many thousands of lives, and this is his great achievement.

He probably wasn't a very good president in political terms, but no-one else could possibly have been South Africa's first democratically elected president. He was right to serve only one term, and since then he has been a living icon that it seems everyone in South Africa and the rest of the world wanted to be seen with. Now that he has died, it is inevitable that he will be venerated ... and probably rightly, because South Africa needs this. Racial tensions are still there, and South Africa could so easily fall foul to them.


I'm not sure that I would make this into an issue of unionism, Stu. If there is any parallel, it would be better to say that Wales is ruled by England simply because England is so much bigger than Wales. This is a form of minority rule, and it would be much better if we ruled ourselves. But it means that those from England who live in Wales have as much right to shape Wales' future as everyone else who lives in Wales.


Huna mewn hedd is every bit as good, 20:41.


Another thing I have now done is call him Rolihlahla, for that was his given name. According to the Guardian obituary, it loosely means "troublemaker". Nelson was imposed on him because his school didn't like using African names. That's definitely a story that Wales can identify with.

Anonymous said...

MH, isn't 'hl' in Xhosa and Zulu pronounced as our 'll'? If so, his given name is pronounced Rolillalla.


Anonymous said...

I agree that the political content of Mandela shouldn't just be ignored in some kind of emotional deification. It might take time for that to happen. But I disagree with the Anon that calls Mandela out on supporting "dictators" (presumably Mugabe) in neighbouring countries. Mugabe was regarded as heroic for his struggle in Zimbabwe- and lauded by the west after his victory when he was seen as a democrat. There is certainly no African leader and no democratic western leader that hasn't been friends with a "dictator" or worse, even or especially Thatcher, Reagan, Blair or whoever. That's the reality of politics and in that sense Mandela was imperfect as anyone else. But he made a huge contribution.

MH said...

I'd go along with that, 10:30.

It's part of what I meant when I said that Mandela was a great figurehead but probably wasn't a good president in political terms. In places like South Africa and Zimbabwe (and elsewhere) the struggle was for equality in the face of what had previously been white oppression. That is so big a struggle that, once achieved, there is then a huge question mark over "what happens next". What direction is the new nation going to take? What will it grow up to be?

Sometimes a cute baby becomes a rather spotty teenager with a bad attitude problem; but might well turn out to be a handsome, well-rounded adult. That has happened, and is still happening, all over the post-colonial world.

In South Africa, as other commentators have said, although there is now political equality there wasn't all that much economic change. Trying to put right historic economic injustice is a much more slippery fish. With measures like land reform, Mugabe has tried to redistribute land from white owners ... but with cronyism and corruption. And as a result of doing it badly, Zimbabwe's economy (at least as it would be recognized in the West) collapsed. In contrast, SA has not tried to do anything so radical and it's economy has therefore held up.

There will always be tension between the radical "we must put right the historic wrongs that have produced such inequality of wealth, and do it now" approach and the conservative "yes, but don't rock the boat too much or we'll all sink" approach. The challenge for SA now is to walk that long and tricky path by peaceful, democratic means. My hope is that the abiding legacy of Mandela's attitude will throw light on that path and help ensure that the tension doesn't turn into conflict.

Dylan said...

I'm not sure what Anon 21:06 is on about. Mandela was a supporter of equal rights for homosexual people and anti-discrimination laws. South Africa's constitution specifically forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, by both the state and individuals, and that is thanks to Mandela. Many of his supporters in South Africa would have disagreed with his stance, which makes this fact all the more meaningful. The politically convenient thing for him to do would have been to neglect gay rights, but he didn't. Good man.

Unless Anon knows something I don't.

Winne is a bit horrible though. We all know that.

MH said...

Your comment got caught in the spam filter, M. So apologies for only responding now.

I will bow to anyone's knowledge of Xhosa and Zulu pronunciation, as I know next to nothing about it. But from this page it looks like you're right. And it would also appear, from this page, that the "Ro" is pronounced "Cho" (as in Welsh, rather than English or French). To confirm it, there's an audio clip here.

I wonder if anyone knew that when he visited Wales? I think it would have brought a smile to his face to find out that we are probably the only other nation in the world that could pronounce his name properly.

Welsh not British said...

I used the word unionist as a way of not bringing nationality into it since being born in Wales or outside Wales doesn't neccesarily make you pro-Wales or anti-Wales. You only have to look at Kinnock or Saunders Lewis for proof of that.

Just highlighling that many unionists have no problem in the colinisation of Cymru yet maintain that Mandela was a hero for freeing his people. 'Wings' has brilliantly highlighted this hypocrisy recently.

Anonymous said...

Mandela ...... proof that 'prison works'.

Michael Howard, Home Secretary during the Major years, was right all along!

MH said...

That's a fair point, Stu. I'm sorry that I misunderstood you.


Of course, 21:00. And millions of mourners, including leaders from more than half the nations of the world, will come to Michael Howard's funeral to prove it.

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