Ken Keable's initial thoughts on hearing the news of the death of Nelson Mandela.
I am watching the BBC News Channel, which is devoting all its time to the subject.
I see the British establishment giving us hypocrisy by the bucketful. The apartheid system was a crime against humanity and the British state was up to its neck in that crime. Britain’s diplomatic service did all it could, at the UN and elsewhere, to protect the apartheid regime from international sanctions. The City of London financiers invested in apartheid South Africa and profited from it. All the major British companies had their subsidiaries in South Africa, which practiced racism and supported the racist regime. Britain imported vast amounts of South African products, made cheap by the artificially cheap labour of the South African people. Hence, the whole British economy was subsidised, over many years, by the cheap labour of the oppressed South African people. It was the British parliament that passed the South Africa Act 1909 which set up a whites-only parliament in South Africa. The apartheid laws, introduced from 1948 onwards, could not have been passed without such a parliament.
Nelson Mandela’s life throws down a challenge to us all, to ask, “Am I doing as much as I can to fight for a more just society and a more just world?”
As one who went on two secret missions to apartheid South Africa in my youth, to help the liberation struggle as one of the ANC’s London Recruits, and who boycotted South African products for over 30 years, I salute him.