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The Obamas Toured Nelson Mandela’s Prison Cell

From the Washington Post:

Obama family tours cell where Nelson Mandela was jailed

By David Nakamura | June 30, 2013

ROBBEN ISLAND, South Africa – President Obama and his family visited this historic island on Sunday, taking a solemn tour of the cell where Nelson Mandela was jailed for decades.

“We’re deeply humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield,” Obama wrote in a guest book in the jail’s open air, dirt field, surrounded by high walls and barbed wire. First lady Michelle Obama watched him write the message and signed her name with his when he was finished.

“The world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strengths of the human spirit,” Obama wrote. Moments before he had seen the small, sparsely furnished jail cell where Mandela, 94, had been assigned before his release in 1990.

Mandela was jailed for his anti-apartheid protests; Obama has credited Mandela for inspiring his own political activism as a college student.

Nelson Mandela was arrested along with nine other leaders of the ANC in 1962. They were convicted of a total of 193 acts of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The president, first lady and their daughters also visited the lime quarry where the political prisoners did hard labor. They listened as an 83-year-old tour guide, who himself had been jailed on the island, described the meaning of the quarry.

Obama used the opportunity to tell daughters Malian and Sasha that Indian Mahatma Gandhi had begun his movement of non-violent protest in South Africa as a young lawyer.

“Here is where he did his first” activism, Obama said. “When he went back to India the principles ultimately led to India independence and what Gandhi did inspired Martin Luther King.”

After signing the guest book Obama put his arm around his wife and walked out.

We’re not quite sure what Mr. Gandhi had to do with Nelson Mandela. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, Mandela in 1961 in association with the South African Communist Party, co-founded the militant wing of the ANC known as Umkhonto we Sizwe , "Spear of the Nation." (AKA MK.) The MK carried out a bombing campaign against government and civilian targets, which led to Mandela’s aforementioned conviction and imprisonment.

Wikipedia lists some of MK’s ‘military campaign:

Umkhonto we Sizwe

… In June 1961, Mandela sent a letter to South African newspapers warning the government that a campaign of sabotage would be launched unless the government agreed to call for a national constitutional convention. Beginning on 16 December 1961, the campaign by Umkhonto we Sizwe with Mandela as its leader, launched bomb attacks on government targets and planned for possible guerrilla warfare.

The first target of the campaign was an electricity sub-station. Umkhonto we Sizwe undertook other acts of sabotage in the next eighteen months. The government alleged more acts of sabotage had been carried out and at the Rivonia trial the accused would be charged with 193 acts of sabotage in total. The sabotage included attacks on government posts, machines, power facilities and crop burning.

The MK went on to do even more violent acts after Mandela’s imprisonment.


Landmark events in MK’s military activity inside South Africa consisted of actions designed to intimidate the ruling power. In 1983, the Church Street bomb was detonated in Pretoria near the SA Air Force Headquarters, resulting in 19 civilian fatalities and 217 persons injured…

In the Amanzimtoti bomb on the Natal South Coast in 1985, five civilians were killed and 40 were injured when MK cadre Andrew Sibusiso Zondo detonated an explosive in a rubbish bin at a shopping centre killing five people, including three children, shortly before Christmas…

A bomb was detonated in a bar on the Durban beach-front in 1986, killing three civilians and injuring 69…

In 1987, an explosion outside a Johannesburg court killed three people and injured 10; a court in Newcastle had been attacked in a similar way the previous year, injuring 24. In 1987, a bomb exploded at a military command centre in Johannesburg, killing one person and injuring 68 personnel.

The bombing campaign continued with attacks on a series of soft targets, including a bank in Roodepoort in 1988, in which four civilians were killed and 18 injured. Also in 1988, in a bomb detonation outside a magistrate’s court killed three. At the Ellis Park rugby stadium in Johannesburg, a car bomb, killed two and injured 37 civilians. A multitude of bombs in "Wimpy Bar" fast food outlets and supermarkets occurred during the late 1980s, killing and wounding many people. Wimpy were specifically targeted because of their perceived rigid enforcements of many Apartheid-era laws, including excluding people of colour from their restaurants. Several other bombings occurred, with smaller numbers of casualties…

Landmine campaign

From 1985 to 1987, there also was a campaign to mine rural roads used by farmers in what was then the Northern Transvaal. In submissions to the TRC, the ANC described the strategy and how they abandoned it due to the high rate of civilian casualties—especially amongst black labourers. The ANC estimated 30 landmine explosions resulting in 123 deaths, while the government submitted a figure of 157 explosions resulting in 125 deaths…

Torture and executions

The [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] found that torture was "routine" and was official policy – as were executions "without due process" at ANC detention camps particularly in the period of 1979–1989…

Granted, all of these attacks occurred while Mr. Mandela was imprisoned. But he did found the organization. And it’s hard to think of it as the work of Gandhi.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, July 1st, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “The Obamas Toured Nelson Mandela’s Prison Cell”

  1. Liberals Demise says:

    What a putz barry is.
    Nay…….. baffoon!
    This is “all” we get for a $100 Million?
    Oops, I forgot he gave away $7 Billion broke taxpayers money.
    Have a Happy 4th if you can afford it.

  2. GetBackJack says:

    Criminals and tyrants plundering their own people so they can congratulate one another. How touching. I guess it’d be a bad time to mention Nelson Mandela’s book “How To Be A Good Communist” in the same sentence as pointing out Obama’s puppet master Communist Bill Ayers.

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