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MADIBA, MAHATMA AND MAE MAE by Rae Samuel

posted 21 Dec 2013, 07:15 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 21 Dec 2013, 07:42 ]
Rae Samuel
Shortly after the interment of the late Michael Als, another comrade called me with a trenchant insight, invisible because it occurs right under our mourning noses. Relatives, as is their right, assume responsibility for the final ceremonies, unless the departing comrade does, is able to leave expressed wishes and instructions. For example our memorable brother and comrade departed Kevin Seaton through his pain and attendant oblivion made it clear to us that he wanted to see 'blue shirts', the OWTU uniform, at his final passage

The comrade was saying that over the last two to three years the send offs do not reflect the life of our heroes. The front pews are taken up by name persons from the establishment: Senators, Government Ministers, former revolutionary intellectuals, collaborators. 

Of course that is where the cameras, mine included, have to be at some point. And imagining themselves safe from the message of our fallen comrades, they return among us, some wreathed in smiles and sartorial splendour. 
 
These resplendent mourners, who in the words of Fidel Castro, 'have folded up their progressive banners' often
would have us believe that our soldiers had given up the battle and in their final years started behaving themselves, accepted bourgeois democracy and would have loved to sit at the round table: the paradigm of "modern, responsible trade unionism”

The hymns have replaced the Union songs and the preachers assert that some who had come to view religion in a certain way, had on their deathbeds, cried out for Jesus. Other trade union colleagues and organisations simply do not see it to show up in visible enough numbers, conveniently forgetting there was the movement before there were bargaining units, labour federations, JTUM’s. 
 
But then we are not alone in witnessing the absurdities of 'canonisation through co-optation'. Nelson Mandela who sat at the right hand of capitalism in his years in government and now sits at the right hand of the Judaeo-Christian God (same capitalism) has received his makeover. He is/was the ultimate humanitarian and will be suitably 'whitewashed' and resold to us literally and figuratively: Alabaster Madiba who single-handedly overthrew apartheid and loved his former oppressors not to death, but to positions of privilege and power, will rise again. 
 
Actually in some parts of the world he may already have, breaking the three day rule and not waiting for Easter. Oh I need to ask: Are the Mandela Christmas cards out yet? I say this because I have already seen the tee shirts. To be followed by notebooks, lunch kits, sport coats, desert boots and pull down caps. I know the socks, sneakers, travel bags, caps, rugby balls, key chains, belts, whistles, soap and after shave lotions are on the way. I have even seen a
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
designer on Facebook promoting the Mandela look. Gandhi's descendants must be steaming that the Mahatma was not more fashion conscious. Really hard to ask Nike or Puma
Nazi war trial at Nuremberg
to promote the Gandhi look. 

One of the more intriguing aspects for me of this 'love thy oppressors talk' is that it seems to be of recent vintage. Why weren’t Hitler and the Nazis offered twenty seats in the House of Lords and villas in the British Isles? Why weren't the Japanese offered beach houses in Hawaii and seats on the Board of G.M.? They were dealt with at the Nuremberg trials where sought reparations were measured in lengths of rope and the hangman came to collect. Ask the late Lord Haw Haw how his career as a talk show host ended. 


For me however the man of the hour/day/week/month/year/decade century/ must be Thamsanqa Jantjie. Fortunately, because of Madiba's stature Thamsanqa will be immortalised. Years from now the question our children and grandchildren will ask will not be 'Where were you when Madiba’s memorial was held?" Rather it will be, "Where were you when Thamsanqa Jantjie joined the circus and made jackasses out of the South African government, the ANC and other public officials globally?” 

In one fell swoop; he 'storms' the funeral, manages to occupy centre stage in a globally televised event and
Thamasanqa Jantije
proceeds to b.s. everybody. The man has balls and a true sense of occasion. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have come here to honour a giant who blah...blah...blah...'' intones some global leader. Meanwhile Thamsanqa is probably signing "Makin' love one day /wid a girl they callin' Mae Mae.'' I don't know how he kept a straight face through it all. 

The biggest loser in all of this seems to be Desmond Tutu. Media reports suggest he did not get to share the spotlight at Mandela's burial. The good archbishop seems to be saying that he is disappointed in the ANC cabal. UNC? ANC? Cabal? Maybe he should come to Trinidad/Tobago and join Jack Warner's ILP?
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