I, like probably millions of other people, had hoped to have the opportunity to meet Mr. Mandela.
While this never happened he was always part of the American social justice movement, of which I have been
a part all of my adult life. In 1980, when I was 20, I was a freshman at Northwestern College, a small christian school in Orange City, Iowa, when 0n March 24 Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated. I had a classmate respond that it was OK because he was a communist. Reagan was president and the murderers of Romero, the military of El Salvador, were armed, trained and financed by the U.S.. Later that year, on Dec. 2, four Catholic women, Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Jean Donovan, and Dorothy Kazel had just come to El Salvador to help the poor. Their vehicle was stopped by the military and all four were then raped and murdered.
In June of !980 I moved to California and became active in the social justice movement in Southern California. We held regular demonstrations in Los Angeles at the county building and federal building over El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and South Africa. In El Salvador 80 thousand were killed. Regarding Guatemala, over 200 thousand had been killed, mostly indigenous people during a period of several U.S. supported dictatorships. Nicaragua, after the Sandinista victory, had to deal with Reagan's darlings the Contra, who killed about 40,000 civilians.
I fist met some of the Anti-Apartheid activists and participated in demonstrations at the South African counsulate in Los Angeles. At that time too is when I first heard Hugh Masekela, the great South African musician, of course, performing his most familiar, Bring Back Nelson Mandela. Another good one by Masekela is "Change."
When Mandela was released from prison in 1990 he immediately set about to dismantle the Apartheid system and establish a new social structure based on the equality of all, a true democracy.
There are many places around the world where the struggle for social and political justice are still great. Two such places are the Philippines and West Papua. To learn of what is happening in the Philippines I encourage you to go to bulatlat.org, and google karapatan. To learn of what is going on in West Papua an excellent source is WWW.etan.org, another is freewestpapua.org
I welcome any comments or suggestions.- Brian