While everyone is jostling each other to heap praises on Nelson Mandela; recalling what a great statesman and example to the rest of the world he was, it is important to note the history of the Grenadian opposition to Apartheid and support for Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress.
Those of us who achieved political awareness and interest in social and racial justice in the late seventies and early eighties will recall names like Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael), Walter Rodney, Michael Manley and of course the bold and brave freedom fighters in Southern Africa.
At the fore of our attention would have been the South African struggle and names like Steve Biko, Walter Sisulu, Desmond Tutu, Thabo Mbeki and others; at the top of the list being Nelson Mandela.
The continued incarceration of Mandela remained a burning topic with militant young people at the time and we all raged while reading reports of the Sharpeville massacre and other atrocities of Apartheid.
With the rise to power of the People’s Revolutionary Government, issues of African liberation became national issues. The Nelson Mandela imprisonment was condemned on every platform and formed part of almost every speech by political leaders.
African Liberation was celebrated every year with a big public rally and many ANC leaders were invited annually to be part of the activities including Thabo Mbeki who would eventually become the second black president of South Africa.
So during that period Grenada was very much a part of the struggle of the victimised and repressed peoples of Africa and Nelson Mandela was idolised as a hero by the leaders and citizens of Grenada then.
Too bad some of our present leaders only jumped on the bandwagon after the world changed its course and condemned the De Klerk government in South Africa until global pressure forced them to release Mandela.
I recall after the destruction of the revolution, I was a member of an obscure political party called the Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement which sought to continue to champion the good aspects of the revolution.
We continued to celebrate African Liberation Day and at one celebration we brought down a member of the ANC and the then Blaize government of which our present Prime Minister was a member stopped him at the airport and sent him back.
On another occasion police surrounded the Progress Park where we had planned the celebrations and prevented it from going on. Persons like Dr. Terry Marryshow, Einstein Louison, Joseph Charter and others can attest to this.
So when I hear Prime Minister Keith Mitchell shed tears at the Media Awards recently when he spoke about Mandela I wondered from what theretofore inaccessible reservoir he pulled those tears and if that reservoir was dry during the eighties when Mandela was in prison and the ANC was outlawed.
The world has lost a real once-in-a-lifetime icon; a true giant; a man in the truest sense of the word but sadly his death has also pulled some real hypocrites out of the woodwork.