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Thursday, July 31, 2014


Have just now finished seeing a film, Endgame, of South Africa in the time of the transfer of power from Botha to deKlerk. A kind of bio-pic with handheld camera, often with the feeling of seeing the visuals by way of surveillance cameras or somebody wearing a lapel-cam. Very much a feeling of you-are-there. Mandela in prison, Thabo Mbeki negotiates with negotiators from the government. It showed the threats, the near-misses, the valley of the shadow of death that Thabo Mbeki walked through, and everyone concerned in the movement walked through with him. Many didn't make it. It was similar to the American civil rights movement. Martin Luther King walked through the valley of the shadow of death and didn't make it. Lone gunman again, and again.  The film was acted well by good actors, directed five star and photographed the equal. I felt the immediacy of every scene filmed as though we're overhearing private conversations from both sides of the fence. The walls had ears was known everywhere we went. Very little went by unseen. Often it felt like seeing the scene through a surveillance camera in a tree or planted out of sight in a room. It gave a sense of danger from both sides. "If you'll stop your terrorism we can talk peace." "If you'll stop your police brutality we'll stop our terrorism." Negotiations were stuck throughout Botha's administration. He had a stroke and exited the story. DeKlerk came next and agreed to ANC's will, let Nelson Mandela go free to be swept into the president's office of South Africa. He was about as welcome to white South Africans as Obama is to white Americans. The slur-words are taking over. No danger of it there and no danger of it here. The propaganda of fear was thick in the air.

The film gave a sense that it was put together by an investigative reporter who spliced the scenes from surveillance videos into the story told, scene by scene. I was especially interested in its historical value, seeing visuals of what the news was telling and not telling in that time. I've seen several films, both drama and documentary, read of that period in South African history, the end of the apartheid system, freeing Nelson Mandela.. This one tells a serious story, like the others, though in such a visual presentation it gives a subliminal experience of how it feels to know you're being watched everywhere at all times. A spooky film in that way. This one, Endgame, I could watch again for the visuals without sound. I don't recall seeing anything like it. I'm glad I wasn't put here with Nelson Mandela's mission. He was a soul of deep wisdom. In the turn of the century, Time magazine made much of Man of the Century. It seemed to me Mandela did the most powerful deed by surviving 27 years of hard core prison as a political prisoner and a kafir; he ruled afterward a compassionate leader for the whole country. Of course, man of the century went to a white man, whose name is synonymous with knowledge, not a black man discredited by the press as a communist, that convenient word like terrorism, so easy to discredit somebody with. For Time magazine to name Mandela would have brought a heap of criticism from power circles and a change of staff. I was seeing Mandela in terms of democracy and the future of the whole continent of Africa as well as South Africa. From the American Empire's point of view, Africa is for exploitation only, not democracy. I have no argument with Einstein. After all, his mathematical discovery changed everything, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That's remarkably significant. Power.

I believe I can say in truth that Nelson Mandela is the only public figure of any country, that I've known of, I have respected in my lifetime. Nobody in Europe. Nobody in Asia, Nobody in the Middle East. Only Nelson Mandela in Africa. I put my finger on Mandela for his true public service as opposed to self-service and service to power and money. People like him are not appreciated in circles of power and money. Alas, they serve the enemy of the power and money set, the rest of us, the pitchfork army. People  in the political world who actually serve the people run the risk of assassination. It often happens. Mandela anticipated every day his last, as did Mbeki. It was PW Botha to die of a stroke first, his death opening the door to democracy in South Africa. I'm recalling a reggae song from the Botha period by Bunny Wailer, President Botha is the mosquito who annihilate Africa...with the deadly bite spreads the disease of apartheid. Mandela became president, though white wealth maintained power. Like Obama the American black president is powerless at the table of white wealth, Mandela was too. In the end, only appearance and propaganda changed. I grew up in a world operated by a belief system that only white is all right, held to as jealously as there's only one way to the pearly gates. From earliest childhood I can recall having empathic feelings toward people of other races, the huge majority of people on earth, because the people of my world looked so far down on them. I was three when I stayed with my young mother not long out of high school in a vast trailer park at Camp Lejeune for the returning troops with wives able to visit them upon return from the Pacific war (an odd oxymoron). Two black women took care of house cleaning in the trailers. They were the first dark skinned people of my experience, including porters on the train who were friendly mysteries. These two women were attentive with the little kid and the kid loved seeing them. One night the shed they kept their cleaning equipment in burned down and I never saw them again.

I can remember mother and grandmother talking down about them like they were about the same as children and I was disappointed they didn't understand these were wonderful people. 1945 was a long time before civil rights consciousness. My parents' racism was polite, not vehement. A lot of white Southern kids and white kids all over America in that time were questioning the black people being kept down when they were good people. Pushed down into poverty, street crime pops up, a good public relations excuse to push them down further and round them up into prisons, the American version of concentration camps. Racism never made sense to me in any phase of my lifetime. In childhood I was taught to fall in line with the belief that black people were the bottom class of people, American untouchables. I didn't know any black kids until 1954, the seventh grade, when black kids were made to leave their schools and go to the white schools of the district they lived in. Black kids were scared and white kids were scared. Jocks and toughguy white kids threatened the black kids causing them to stay together in gangs for self-defense. Then, as gangs, they became aggressive and back and forth it went. The white nerds without jock protection would be bullied by the black gangs as well as the white jocks. The black kids not inclined to gangs had to go with them anyway for their own self-defense. All the parents were scared for their girls. Martin Luther King and forced integration did not end racism in America. Nelson Mandela could not end racism in South Africa. As things are going now, it looks like it will be a long time in centuries before racism is over. Things have a way of changing unpredictably like the wind.      


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