It was a hot summer’s day. I remember standing in front of his cell in the Robben Island prison. He spent eighteen years of his life there. The cell was very small and a bucket had been provided to him for excrement. But this is not what moved me. What has stayed with me is the scorching limestone quarry. That limestone quarry on which Mandela and comrades would work under extreme conditions and which nearly cost him his eyesight. That Sisyphean limestone quarry on which day in and day out, simply for mental and physical torture, Mandela and other lovers of freedom and equality were made to toil away.
Mandela was a terrorist according to US law till as late as 2008. Indeed, he was a terrorist. He sent terror down the hearts of all those who deal in terms of power, who kill and torture by the millions, and who are supported by subservient ‘intellectuals’ and ‘educated’ people.
Mandela was an advocate for Palestinian liberation and of oppressed people everywhere. He was a living symbol of the fact that no struggle, however difficult it might appear, is in fact Sisyphean. And this perhaps will be his ever-lasting legacy: a shining testament to the human spirit’s capacity of overcoming any odds.
There will be rightful (in some cases hypocritical) mourning on the passing of the great great man. But even as we mourn, we must not forget the apartheid that continues in Palestine today. The last words belong to Mandela. He said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
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