The Future of History

Thursday, 5 December 2013


I was in Holland when I saw the TV images of him being released from prison.

A year or two later, I was on an open-top bus, travelling the carnival route of the Birmingham Mela.  There was a member of the ANC - soon to become the governing party of South Africa - also on the bus.  He was there to observe local government.

Not so long after that, I was in Birmingham's Town Hall, becoming an instant fan of Hugh Masekela, and especially his stunning Stimela (The Coal Train) song.  A few feet away from me sat Madiba himself, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, in whose honour the concert was being held.  We gave him a standing ovation.

Now, Madiba is gone.  His long walk to freedom is over.

I had wanted to blog about the hypocrisy of a right-wing politician who called for him to be hanged, and who helped to prolong the despicable apartheid system in South Africa, going on television to describe this good man as a "hero of our time".  I had wanted to refer to Charles Moore's review of Conservative MP Daniel Hannan's absurdly revisionist "history" of what he calls the "Anglosphere", with its fanatical pretence that England singlehandedly invented liberty and freedom (Moore even acknowledges that Hannan's ludicrous argument relies on "a bit of false memory syndrome", but he lets him off because apparently some historical lies are "good").  I had wanted to query how Moore's observation that "In all countries, at all times, there are a shocking number of people who want to diminish freedom" squared with his own party's hatred of freedom-fighters like Nelson Mandela and its active and determined support for the brutish, fascist regime which imprisoned him and brutalised his people.

But I won't.  Rest in peace, Madiba.

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