Inviting Winnie Mandela a wrong turn for march

October 25, 1997|By GREGORY KANE

LET'S HOLD a Million Woman March in Philadelphia today, some black women got together and said. Fine. It's a noble idea. A good idea.

Let's invite Winnie Mandela, some of them said.

Bad idea, which shows that not everyone connected with today's event was actually thinking.

Winnie Mandela? The one suspected of murder? The one whose life had become so rife with immorality that her husband had to dump her?

But apparently Mandela - now known as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela - accepted. She will be one of the march's keynote speakers - along with U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California.

I have a better idea: Why didn't march organizers invite the mother of Stompie Seipei?

Stompie was only 14 years old when he was kidnapped and murdered by one of Madikizela-Mandela's bodyguards. She was convicted in the kidnapping and sentenced to six years in prison. The sentence was later reduced to a fine. It would be interesting to hear what Stompie's mother would have to say about the wrist-slap justice used in Madikizela-Mandela's case, or how the bereaved mom might feel about Winnie's being invited to speak at the Million Woman March.

But the liberal-nationalist-activist wing of Afro-Americana that sponsors such marches has never had much use for black victims - at least those done in by other blacks. What these particular black Americans do have is a passion for glorifying and romanticizing those blacks seen as being foremost in the struggle against those horrible, dreadful white folks. Whether or not such glorified blacks are deserving of such admiration - or even if they've committed some sins along the way - is quite beside the point.

Madikizela-Mandela's former husband Nelson was in that category once himself - before he disillusioned black America's nationalist wing by steering a moderate course in his presidency of South Africa. Some American blacks have even become outraged enough to suggest - perched in their relative safety here in America - that South African blacks resort to race war to solve the problem. How noble of them to suggest that someone else thousands of miles away put their lives on the line to assuage outrage felt by some American blacks.

That Nelson Mandela may have been trying to steer a moderate course so that his country could build some stability never occurred to his critics. Apparently they haven't read George B.N. Ayittey's "Africa Betrayed," in which the author cites a case-by-case study of African nations victimized by incompetent, greedy, despotic and downright stupid leaders. Mandela no doubt sees it as his duty to see that his country doesn't fall into the hands of one of those.

Former Black Panther founder and leader Huey Newton is another still regarded as a hero. Never mind that he died in a crack deal gone sour. Never mind that some former Panthers feel Black Panther George Jackson's death in a 1971 prison escape attempt was actually a setup by Newton. Never mind that Newton was charged with killing a black prostitute - the poor woman committed the indiscretion of calling him "baby" - and with pistol-whipping his tailor. He fled to Cuba to avoid prosecution for these charges, then later returned, claiming the charges were trumped up by the dreaded white man in an attempt to discredit a Black Panther Party that was already in disarray.

Kenya's Mau Mau is yet another group thought to be heroic by those African-Americans suffering from the delusion that they are somehow more African than American. Mau Mau members were stalwart freedom fighters battling against British colonialism and striking terror into the hearts of whites, the black romanticists proclaim. Mau Mau members killed exactly 95 Europeans during their uprising. More whites died in traffic accidents in Nairobi than were killed by Mau Mau members. What the Mau Mau did accomplish was the murder of about 2,000 Africans. That fact doesn't lower them one iota in the esteem of the black romanticists.

So it should come as no surprise that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, convicted kidnapper and suspect in a murder, has been invited to speak today at the Million Woman March. The exact purpose of the march is not clear. Perhaps the women will gather to celebrate the restraint they've shown in not smothering black men in their sleep. But if the theme is one of atonement - as was the case in the Million Man March in 1995 - then choosing Madikizela-Mandela as a speaker might have some logic.

It seems she has quite a bit to atone for.

Pub Date: 10/25/97

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