Apartheid president de Klerk portrayed as South African hero is classic whitewash – Marseille News
FW de Klerk and his wife attend the red carpet event ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final Draw at CTICC on December 4, 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo taken by the Organizing Committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa)
The oppressors will always try to rewrite history to make themselves look better. They will justify the slaughter by calling the victims « savage » or « uncivilized » or « rioters, » meaning killing them is OK because they were inferior humans, if they were even human. This is used to explain the eradication of Native Americans from this country and the long term slavery and oppression of black Americans.
Attempts by the right to erase critical race theory are just another example of oppressors trying to whitewash or cleanse a past that now seems disturbing and needs to be justified. It is often the responsibility of black journalists, historians and storytellers to tell the whole truth and so we are dealing with this work today because the former President of South Africa, Klerk’s FW, has passed away and some people would like to remember him as a hero.
They say it was he who released Nelson Mandela in prison after 27 years and the one who pushed the South African government to dismantle apartheid. But these are not honest ways of explaining what happened. De Klerk was no hero. He’s a villain, one of the most racist government leaders in modern history and a long-time supporter of apartheid who got put in a corner and did what he had to. Nelson Mandela said of Klerk: “He was by no means the great emancipator.
(Left to right) South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk attend the President’s Cup opening ceremony at The Links at Fancourt on November 20, 2003 in George, South Africa. (Photo by Harry How /.)
Some might point to de Klerk’s recent apology for apartheid, made when he could see death approaching, but in 2020, when an interviewer asked him if apartheid was a crime against humanity, he said. says no. Years after its end, he has remained an apologist. To be clear, the United Nations General Assembly has condemned apartheid as a crime against humanity.
(When that vote took place, guess who voted against approving this description? The United States. But I digress.)
The main driver of what most governments will do most of the time is the economy. Most governments want the local and national economy to work well because widespread prosperity guarantees taxpayer dollars and donations from the rich and votes from the people – if the economy is doing well and most people have a jobs and the ability to take care of their families and buy things, then they will be happy and they will vote to keep the powerful in power and the big business will be satisfied and donate to keep the powerful in power.
Every election usually comes down to what people think of the economy. The end of apartheid did not come because de Klerk and his peers in government suddenly realized it was immoral. It came about because the apartheid system and the global anti-apartheid movement were destroying South Africa’s national economy. The president before Klerk, PW Botha, realized that change was inevitable and met Mandela in prison to start discussing the change.
In the 1960s, South Africa saw economic growth just behind Japan – trade with the West brought in a lot of money. But the severe segregation imposed by apartheid meant that the black majority was largely impoverished and lacked significant purchasing power. It is impossible to have a functioning economy when 70% of the people cannot buy much and in the 1970s this fact started to shrink the economy of the country.
Furthermore, in the 1980s there was a worldwide realization that apartheid was a cruel, racist and immoral system. The United States and 24 other countries imposed tough trade sanctions and there was a widespread divestment movement – no one wanted to invest in companies that did business with South Africa. The country became a global outcast – its athletes couldn’t attend the Olympics, major concert tours couldn’t get there, the Pope refused to go, and it had become unacceptable that major countries and companies trade with South Africa. This brought the country’s economy to a halt, and in 1987 it was growing one of the slowest in the world, a sharp turnaround from just two decades earlier.
Moreover, in the 1980s, the global popularity of Nelson Mandela, then the world’s most beloved political prisoner, became a giant political issue for the apartheid government. They moved him from a harsh maximum-security prison to an institution that seemed more comfortable – to a nicer prison – and allowed him to meet visitors from around the world in the hope that it would make his living conditions were not so good. cruel.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela speaks during the Celebrate South Africa concert on April 29, 2001 in Trafalgar Square in London, England. (Photo by Sion Touhig / Newsmakers)
But Mandela’s interpersonal and political brilliance along with his charisma and insistence on loving his enemy and rejecting bitterness made him even more of a moral giant. The apartheid government released him in 1990 because it was in their best interests – perhaps it would reduce his status as a martyr. But it only grew.
Three years after Mandela’s release, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to him and de Klerk, which is a shameful stain for the prize’s legacy. To equate Mandela and de Klerk, to put them on the same moral plane, to pretend the two have worked together to end apartheid is absurd. De Klerk was forced to release Mandela and end apartheid because of Mandela’s power and the world’s refusal to accept South Africa as long as apartheid persisted.
De Klerk was Mandela’s jailer as well as the virtual prisoner of millions of South Africans, and the world pointed an economic gun to his head and told him to free Mandela and end this system or die. De Klerk made the only possible choice. He doesn’t deserve a reward for finally doing the right thing when he was forced to. He doesn’t now deserve to be portrayed as a hero or even a force for good. If there is justice in the Hereafter, there should be a place waiting for it in Hell.
Touré hosts the Toure Show and Democracyish podcasts and the Who Was Prince? Podcast docuseries. He is also the author of six books.
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