Sunday, October 7, 2018

That Championship Season


1990: The jubilant-looking man on the left is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The equally jubilant-looking man on the right is Nelson Mandela. What's got them in such a good mood? Well, they're old pen pals who only very recently finally got to meet face to face. It's been about a week since Mandela was released from a 27-year prison stay for championing the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa. If you don't already know, apartheid was the white-implemented policy that all blacks in the country remain second-class citizens. Now, second-class citizenry is hardly something uncommon in world (or U.S.) history, but what made apartheid even more distressingly unjust was that the blacks constituted a majority of the population. How weird is that? Whole cities became exclusive country clubs, that's how weird. Disenfranchising nine out of ten people didn't make much economic sense, either. It's as if you dismantled the Eiffel Tower and then charged to use the observation deck. Anyway, in his time behind bars, Mandela himself became part of the cause he had fought for, and an inspiration for those outside the prison walls, such as Tutu, who helped turn what initially was seen as one nation-state's internal matter into an international outrage.



Apartheid came to an end not too long after Mandela was released, and the former political prisoner ascended to the presidency. As I wrote when he died in 2013, it's up to the South African people to decide how well he did in that job, but one thing is certain, the widespread retaliatory oppression of the white minority never came to pass, as so many in that white minority had feared.





As for Desmond Tutu, he turns 87 today. In recent years he's spoken out against LGBTQ discrimination, and was in attendance when his daughter married another woman in the Netherlands in 2016. He probably figured, enough with the second-class treatment already. 

6 comments:

  1. Hi, Kirk!

    Apartheid by any other name smells the same. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We got problems. Nelson Mandela was part of the solution and Desmond Tutu still is. Happy 87th birthday to him!

    Have a great week, good buddy Kirk!

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    1. Shady, George Santayana understated the case.

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  2. Tutu is an important voice against homophobia in Africa, which desperately needs more. Wishing him a Happy Birthday!

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    1. Debra, Tutu is also a voice against it in his own Anglican Church. He once said he'd rather go to Hell than worship a homophobic God.

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  3. I'm a bit surprised those in South Africa didn't unite and rise up against the small numbers against them like communist revolutions in Russia and China did to the people they viewed as their oppressors.

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  4. Adam, I think it's because those small numbers had a lot of firepower. The white South Africa government had too much military might (at one point they even tested an atomic bomb) right to the very end, which wasn't necessarily the case with Russia in 1917 or China in 1949. And it wasn't for the lack of trying on the black majority's part. When he died, Nelson Mandela was compared to Mahatma Gandhi, but in actuality he went to prison for advocating the violent overthrow of apartheid. And that was no trumped-up charge, either. Mandela honestly believed at one time that was the only way the problem could be resolved, as did everyone else. The African National Congress and other black opposition groups committed PLO-style acts of terrorism for many years, which scared the white minority into...spending more money on the military. What eventually brought apartheid down was nonviolent protest in the form of nationwide strikes, a difficult thing to mount a military response to. It was really kind of a last resort, but it worked.

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