Sunday, 30 January 2011

Nelson Mandela

Look, I'm as glad as the rest of you that Nelson Mandela isn't dead yet. There are only a very few people whom I actively wish dead, and Mandela, for all his failings, isn't one of them. He's a nice old chap, but he basically sold out the black underclass - deliberately or through naivety - allowing the white minority to retain all the land and wealth they'd accrued.

I'm sure there are more black people with money in South Africa than there were twenty years ago - but the overall situation of the black population hasn't improved significantly. If anything, they may well have become poorer, with their household incomes falling as those of the rest of the country rise (1).

So what's happening is the creation of a small black economic and political elite, with wealth and privilege comparable to the upper echelons of white South Africans; but no overall improvements in the lives of the vast majority.

I suppose you could argue he deserves recognition not for his positive contribution but for the fact he didn't contribute more negaitvely - South Africa, for all its faults, could have become a far worse place than it is. But that reveals more about the miserable plight of that continent than it does about Mandela's worthiness.

It can't be long, however - he's in his 90s and looking very frail. Expect a full Diannafication when he goes, though.
1 - "Voice of the unpeople" by Mark Curtiss. Published in The Guardian, 3rd of June 2006. (

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