PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Joyous crowds of black South Africans celebrated the unveiling of a new Nelson Mandela statue in Pretoria on Monday while many white Afrikaners on the other side of town expressed their worries about the country’s future as they celebrated the 175th anniversary of a bloody victory over the indigenous Zulus.

A new 9 meter (30 feet) statue of Mandela was unveiled in the heart of Pretoria in front of the Union Buildings that used to be the seat of the apartheid government, where Mandela was sworn in as the country’s first democratically elected president 19 years ago.

“One of the things he taught us was to actually talk to our enemies and learn to appreciate things that they’ve done that didn’t directly affect us in a bad way,” said Thando Silimela, 28, expressing appreciation for the impressive hilltop government complex.

“We don’t see it as a hostile building or a building of apartheid; it’s a beautiful building. It’s part of our heritage. We’ve come to peace with a lot of things that have been done. I’m quite proud of South Africa.”

There was a less celebratory mood across town where more than 1,000 Afrikaner people gathered to mark the anniversary of their victory over the Zulus.

Dec. 16 used to be a public holiday under the apartheid regime to commemorate the battle against the Zulus, but it has since been renamed the National Day of Reconciliation.

Most Afrikaners, who dominated the racist minority rule which ended in 1994, have now embraced the end of discrimination. But a minority of the Dutch-descended group remains harshly critical.

The event at the Afrikaner monument attracted many white critics who condemned corruption and expressed the fear the black majority might eventually turn on them. They saw Mandela, who died Dec. 5, as a guarantor of moderate and non-discriminatory policies.

“If the new black leaders were to act like him, would build the society that he envisioned, it would all be good,” said Elizabeth Neethling, a 65-year-old mother of five from Pretoria.

“Nelson Mandela was a good person but nowadays they are all corrupt. I don’t see any future here for my children and grandchildren. It’s hard for them to find work. Now the black people are dominant and doing apartheid to us,” she said.

Neethling was among the Afrikaners gathered on the southern edge of Pretoria to celebrate the anniversary of the 1838 victory carried by some 500 of their forefathers who repeled an attack by over 10,000 Zulus. The Afrikaners won thanks to their firearms, leaving more than 3,000 Zulus dead.

South Africa is a nation of 53 million people, including about 9 percent white citizens, or 4.6 million, according to the government.

The mood was much more festive among the predominantly black crowd of several thousand who came to see the unveiling of the Mandela statue.

“He is embracing the whole nation,” said President Jacob Zuma of the statue showing Mandela with open arms. “He is advancing to the nation to say let us come together, let us unite.”

But the message of unity was lost on many Afrikaners gathered on another hilltop just a few kilometers (miles) away.

“These people will demolish everything that has been established here,” said Anton Lubbe.

“We have our western culture, our values, but they are different. What South Africa was is being abused,” the 80-year-old former professor in veterinary science from Pretoria said.

“If there were more Madibas it would be different,” he said, using Mandela’s clan name.

(Photo: AP)

2 thoughts on “Joyous Black S. Africans, Fearful White Afrikaners

  1. Nat Turner on said:

    Joe, I well see what you’re getting at
    Cuba should be the size of Canada or the USA, the world would be a very different place,
    Not only on the battle field has Cuba distinguished itself in it’s relatively short history since the revolution, but in medicine, education, construction and international relief to name a few of the ways it has stretched it’s hands to help around the world
    Long after the international media and the relief teams have gone Cuban doctors and nurses have remained in places such as Haiti and Pakistan (earthquakes), not only in Southern Africa but across the continent Cubans have shed their own blood to help others gain their freedom.
    Those who are conscious, are aware of this majority Black nation’s contribution.
    Before the “granting” of civil rights America’s Africans were wide awake, since then an illusion like a thick cloud has descended, but as long as we remain 98% ghetto people that consciousness will reawaken.
    WW I saw several thousand volunteer to fight the Italians in east Africa, there were riots between Black and Italians in Harlem and elsewhere. Many from the Caribbean also funded themselves to go fight and many millions was raised across America to contribute towards pushing the Italian fascists out,
    Chicago alone raised $6 million for the war effort.
    In fact the government enacted a law prohibiting volunteering to fight in “foreign wars”,
    Despite the law many thousands were prepared to go and fight apartheid in Azania, much funds were raised and Black people were a major part of the anti apartheid movement of the U.S.
    Of course we could not compete in contribution of fighters and equipment as an organized conscious political government as Cuba’s could.
    Let us raise consciousness throughout the western world, for we are many, Brasil has the 2nd biggest African population in the world. There is yet much work to be done, let us each salute each other for whatever contribution can be made.
    BTW maybe we should resurrect our demand for 6 of the southern states, that would hot things up a bit.
    Long Live Cuba, Aluta continua.
    Petition against pro apartheid terrorists, please sign,

  2. Nat Turner on said:

    The 1000 or so Boer who celebrated December 16th victory over the Zulu, represent a tiny minority who wish to live in the past, they still cannot fathom that Azania (South Africa) and the world has moved on from the repressive oppressive days of apartheid.
    Like the rabid right wing in the United States they use terms such as “bad governance, and corruption” as a veil to hide their deep seated racism and hatred of Black people.
    MaDiba said peace to all, and so it is.
    The problems of crime and social ills are economic, rooted in the still unfair distribution of wealth.
    The people are long suffering and are prepared, hard as it may see, to wait.
    Azania was expected to be the ultimate race war, but despite everything this has not happened, the haters should do well to consider that and also note that the rest of the nearly 5 million Europeans who remain are more than happy to forge a unified future for every one without regards to race.
    Forces such as the Boeremag (Farmer Force), who planned to Bomb MaDiba and in fact killed, maimed and bombed several places, are the biggest threat to peace, they should consider well that their attitude is going to hurt the White minority more than anyone else.
    The celebration of victory over the indigenous Irish in the north of Ireland by so called Loyalists, with marches and parades through Irish areas is one of the main factors breeding resentment which could eventually fuel the start of “sectarian” strife there once again.
    I salute all the people’s of Azania for the great effort in moving forward, I suggest that those who can’t overcome their hatred to leave and stop making everyone feel uncomfortable.
    Give peace a chance for the good of the future, dump the old attitudes back where they belong, halfway down the back of the last millennium.
    I implore you to sign this petition against Facebook’s support for the Boeremag terrorists who have been jailed, they would not hosts a page in support of Al Qaeda, so therefore should not be hosting a page for thekillers of Black people.
    Long Live MaDiba, Long Live Azania, Long Live Peace

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