“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
The trade union and progressive movement across the world paid its own tributes to Nelson Mandela.
And they sounded a far different note from the statements of Establishment politicians.
Rather than concentrating exclusively on Mandela’s huge contributions to reconciliation in South Africa, they also marked the passing of a great revolutionary, whom the Chairman of Nepal communist Party(UML) J N Khanal in his heartfelt tribute described as “one of the great anti-colonial leaders of the late 20th century.”
South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers “marked with sadness the passing of its honorary president,” remembering “a freedom fighter of note.”
The country’s National Education Health & Allied Workers Union hailed a “fearless revolutionary who led his people during the darkest days of our country … a towering symbol of revolutionary qualities like sacrifice and internationalism.”
And the South African Communist Party proudly proclaimed its kinship with “a true revolutionary, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Tata Madiba … a brave and courageous soldier, patriot and internationalist who, to borrow from Che Guevara, was a true revolutionary guided by great feelings of love for his people.”
At his arrest in August 1962, the party noted, Nelson Mandela was not only a member of the South African Communist Party but also a member of its central committee.
“To us as South African communists,” the party said, “Comrade Mandela shall forever symbolise the monumental contribution of the SACP in our liberation struggle.”
Revolutionary union federation Cosatu remembered a man who “never compromised his democratic principles or thought of anything but how to win the ultimate victory of the struggle he lived for and was prepared to die for – a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and free South Africa.”
And the African National Congress hailed a man who was “part of the ANC leadership collective and did not make decisions without first reflecting with his comrades but would fight for the principle of what was the right thing to do.
“His was a choice,” the ANC said “to not only be a product of but the maker of his and his people’s history.”