PRESS STATEMENT: Long Live the Spirit of Nelson Mandela! The spirit of Mandela lives on - on the picket lines!
The staff and board of BDS South Africa joins the international Palestine solidarity movement in conveying our condolences to the family of Nelson Mandela on the passing of their --and our-- beloved father, Tata Madiba. We have met Nelson Mandela in struggle and on the picket lines, and we will continue to meet him there - in the struggle for a better South Africa and better world. Specifically we have met Nelson RolihlahlaMandela in lending our solidarity to the Palestinian people (a people who derive inspiration from Tata Madiba) in their struggle against Israeli Apartheid.
Many will remember and recall how in 1990, even under immense attack and pressure from the Israeli lobby, Nelson Mandela proudly backed (when it was unfashionable) the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli regime ( Many will recall and remember how Tata Madiba delivered the "1997 United Nations Speech in Solidarity with the Palestinian People" where he famously declared that "our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians…" ( Apartheid South Africa had close military collaborations with the Israeli regime but on becoming President in 1994, we recall how Nelson Mandela actively encouraged the opening of a Palestinian Embassy in Democratic South Africa ( Many will recall and remember Nelson Mandela's trip to the besieged Gaza strip in 1999 and his moving words: "The histories of our two peoples, Palestinian and South African, correspond in such painful and poignant ways, that I intensely feel myself being at home amongst compatriots [the Palestinians]." ( Many will recall Tata Madiba's close and loving friendship with Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat ( as well as Mandela's historic meeting with fellow Palestinian freedom fighter, Leila Khaled (
However, it is not just about recalling and remembering. It is also about living our lives in the spirit of Tata Madiba, about meeting Nelson Mandela by being on the picket lines (against racism, sexism, zionism and Israeli Apartheid). Nelson Mandela not only inspires the Palestinian people themselves but has also inspires us, South Africans, to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians and all oppressed peoples of the world. Yes, Tata Madiba did have a personal relationship with the Palestinian people but it was more than just a personal relationship that Tata Madiba had with the Palestinian people. Nelson Mandela's relationship with the Palestinian people was borne out of his celebration of internationalism and the human spirit.
Thus, Tata Madiba has left us with an awesome responsibility. To live our lives in ways that embody his principles of non-racialism, non-sexism and internationalism. In concrete terms it (celebrating Nelson Mandela's legacy and internationalism) means, among other things, lending our active solidarity to the people of Palestine in their struggle against Israeli Apartheid, the people of Cuba in their struggle against USA-led imperialism, the people of Western Sahara struggling against Moroccan colonialism, the people of Swaziland struggling against the Swazi Monarchy and all other peoples of the world who are resisting oppressive regimes.
Tata Madiba lives on, on the picket lines, in struggle and in each one of us, Black, White, Christian, Jew, South African or Palestinian. Its going to be difficult without your physical presence, Tata, but with your spirit guiding us, we --and the Palestinians, Cubans, Swazis and all oppressed peoples-- will overcome. We will continue to meet Nelson Mandela on the picket lines of protest against Israeli Apartheid and all other racist and oppressive regimes. That is where Nelson Mandela lives on for us.
"The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine…we can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others faces…yet we would be less than human if we did so…it behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice…"
- Nelson Mandela, 1997 (

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