Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Politics of Those Boos

OK world, I get it. South Africa was certainly not on its best behavior yesterday in front of the world.  Even the South African Broadcasting Company tried to spare the world, to no avail. I’ve read how many South Africans were mortified about the boos, that people were being rude and lamenting that Madiba would be upset about how people behaved
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But would he?

He spent his whole life fighting so that people could boo, so they could voice their support and their dissent… regardless of who they were. So maybe he would have wished that people had more class, but he probably would have been proud that people were able to make their dissent known– without violence but with their voices.

Of course the reasons for it are complicated and largely internal to South Africa. Perhaps people are disappointed that President, Zuma, the ANC and its leadership are something Mandela would be less than pleased with.  It might be directed exclusively at Zuma for his transgressions, recent and historic. It might be that people feel that things haven’t changed enough since Mandela fought so hard to get them there. It could be that the spectacle yesterday was the world’s and not the people of South Africa’s… who may mourn differently through song, noise and dancing.

Whatever the reason, they do have the right to bitch. Just maybe not in front of the world.

A highlight from yesterday was certainly President Obama. The handshake with President Raul Casto showed the world that the day was beyond politics, unlike those mentioned above. The speech showed the personal connection for Obama, as well as the unique connection between South Africa and the US as multi-racial democracies. The irony of President Obama’s words in front of many who profess to admire Madiba but also continue policies against his ideas should not be lost on anyone. But I think that was point – everyone could find something to admire in Nelson Mandela – dictator, Democrat or Republican alike.

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