It’s easy for Nelson Mandela’s detractors to claim he was a ‘terrorist’. Yes, the African National Congress formed a military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961 and yes, they sabotaged infrastructure and they killed people. But what about the National Party regime?
We should remember that MK was formed as a response to the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, in which 69 people were killed. In Soweto in 1976, an estimated 700 people – many of them children – were murdered by heavily-armed South African police during what became known as the Soweto uprising.
This is not a competition, but the deaths that resulted from MK actions were substantially less than those caused by the actions of the murderous racist state, which had access to greater firepower and better armour. It was also supported in spirit by Thatcher and Reagan, who believed the country was acting as a bulwark against Communist incursions on the African continent. It was the ‘Domino Theory’, you see.
I saw an interview on Channel 4 News with Charles Powell (pronounced ‘pole’), Thatcher’s private secretary, who said something along the lines of “She (Thatcher) didn’t get along with the Africans”. Says it all really.
So when someone tells you Madiba was a terrorist, you ask them ‘who was the bigger bully’? Then watch as they squirm and clutch at straws.