The former anti-apartheid movement in Denmark, Africa Contact, held a memorial for Nelson Mandela in Copenhagen on Monday. About a thousand people took part in what was also a celebration of Mandela’s life and struggle for freedom and justice.
A struggle Mandela himself has admitted has by no means been won – not in his native South Africa, and not for the millions of people throughout Africa and the world who still struggle to survive for democracy.
Saharawi Minister Delegate for Europe, Mohamed Sidati, was invited to speak at the memorial as someone who had met Mandela on several occasions, but more importantly as a representative of a people whose battle for decolonisation has still not been won.
“Mandela is a symbol man for Africa, for the whole world and for all and sundry,” Sidati told the crowd. “In February 1990, I was the first Saharawi who met with Mandela. I shall never forget how he received me. I spoke to him on the Western Sahara and its people. He liked to know from the Saharawi people. At the end of our conversation, he wrote to me on a piece of paper ‘My full support with the struggle of the Saharawi people for self-determination and freedom’.”
According to Mohamed Sidati, this support from not just South Africa but from countries around the world is sorely needed. “In Western Sahara, where the Saharawi people face increasing repression as well as occupation, will remain resisting with strengthened determination and will fight for the same values for which Mandela has fought and has won. This is the best way for us to honour the memory and the legacy of Nelson Mandela who fought for humanity.”
Former anti-apartheid activist Gorm Gunnarsen also spoke specifically of the necessity of supporting Africa’s last colony. “Each and every one of us must carefully choose the struggles we engage ourselves in. Great challenges still remain on the 21st Century, such as pressurizing the EU to stop stealing fish from occupied Western Sahara,” he said.
Speaker of the Danish parliament, and for Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mogens Lykketoft, spoke of Mandela as a moral force of historic proportions who ought to inspire the leaders of the future in both South Africa and beyond to overcome their traumatic past.
But he warned those who would try to use Mandela to serve a more reactionary cause. “Dear revisionists, Mandela will never ever be your little Black Sambo. In the days to come you will try hard to make him out to be something which he is not, but you will not succeed.”
By Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact
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