A long walk to freedom

I was with a group of people at the Afro-Caribbean Millennium Centre in Birmingham partying as Nelson Mandela stepped out into the world as a free man with Winnie along side. We did it again as Obama was elected President of the USA. Highly significant events, especially for black people. On each occasion the joy was shared universally eclipsing the voices of racism and hatred. 20 years on a Guardian article looks back at achievements and disappointments since.
I had the great privilege of joining thousands of others in the Birmingham Convention Centre when Mandela came. He started locally in Handsworth where he asked to go personally to meet with the black population. Facing 3000 or so he began jestingly “if I known there were so many I wouldn’t have come” before talking for two hours without a note in sight. I raised my clenched fist in salute as he left the building receiving a smiling acknowledgment.
While Mandela’s example was pointed to as an example to be followed what has been reported so frequently in the 20 years that followed is the self-indulgence and greed of so many entrusted with leadership in democratic elections. Mandela’s own successor, Jacob Zuma, is embroiled in controversy and it will be a strange sight to see him speaking in tribute to the person he so singularly fails to emulate.
Most regrettable is that the promise of socialism has receded as personal greed eclipses all else as international capitalism continues to encourage and support it.

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