LONDON, July 2nd, (The Southern African Times) – SOUTH Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela’s history and credentials are hardly pressed by a growing British white minority trying to discredit his image as a symbol of peace and freedom by referencing him “a communist.”
At his election in the first democratic elections in 1994, Mandela served one term and through his African National Congress (ANC) party, led reconciliation efforts in South Africa until retiring from public life and his subsequent death in December 2013 aged 95 years.
However, the emergence of the far-right Britain First (BF) movement is advancing to seize and counter the momentum of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the United Kingdom (UK) against racial inequality sparked by last month’s death of a black American citizen in police custody.
Consequently, the Mayor of London Mr Sadiq Khan said “I think we’ve done the wise precautionary thing which is to protect the statues with the boarding up and advise people not to come to central London,”
Ongoing protests in the United States and across Europe over racial prejudice on blacks have also opened ruthless historical memories of slavery and colonialism. Britain’s Oxford University governors have since voted to remove from the institution the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, the face of British colonialism and racism in Anglophone Africa in the nineteenth century.
Also, the statue of Scottish merchant, ship and slave owner Robert Milligan has been removed in the UK.
Led by Paul Golding, the BF protests want Mandela’s statue “to go because was a communist,” accusing the BLM movement of altering British cultural heritage by targeting statues of figures they are convinced “were racist” including World War II Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Golding views Mandela as a person who was on the wrong side of the Cold War and whose monument if left “will be an unforgivable chapter reminding future generations of his sad contribution to history.”
Said Golding: “Why should we have a communist terrorist mass murderer in the capital city of England? It doesn’t make any sense.
“We would like to see that one go, on good grounds, but the rest of them are our historical heritage.”
Mandela’s statue erected in 2007 at Parliament Square in London has since been boarded.
Commenting on the protests, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “extreme far-right groups who advocate hatred and division are planning counter-protests, which means that the risk of disorder is high.”
Mandela’s grandson Nkosi has said the family is equally disturbed by the courage to call the icon a “communist and terrorist when he loved democracy, justice and human rights for all.”
“As a family we understand the challenges that Britain may be facing today accelerated by the death of George Floyd and the BLM campaign. We know that statues, including that one of Madiba, are statues that should be able to inspire us.
“The statues should be able to show and help future generations understand the people that stood for the freedom they enjoy today. We would also want to see this box removed and Madiba liberated,” said Nkosi.
Despite applause as a global icon of liberation and a beacon of reconciliation, Mandela’s name remained on the US terror list till 2008.
Zimbabwean analyst Victor Mapuvire notes that the campaign by Golding is a sick effort to slow the hands of time in an unequal society.
“The BLM movement is coming in as a reminder to former colonial masters and the white establishment about issues they have been turning a blind eye for a long time. This is the emergence of a new struggle that even the black establishment has failed to address.
“Golding and his far right followers are being ridiculous. This is a cheap attempt to counter the BLM and African liberators. Mandela is a hero and global idol. Soiling his image now is just theatrics,” said Mapuvire.
Mapuvire views the momentum generated by the BLM movement as a unique space in addressing inequality. He said the matter at hand has no justification to call Mandela a communist “because far right agenda is insignificant.”