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Mandela as Myth by Tim Knight

Mandela as Myth by Tim Knight

It’s now nearly seven weeks since they take the old lion to a Pretoria hospital and put him to bed in intensive care.
For all those seven weeks Nelson Mandela lies there fighting to live as stubbornly as he once fought to end the evil that was apartheid.
Recently he passed his ninety-fifth birthday.
The man who became a myth still lives.
Still fights.
I think back to a TV journalism training workshop I led in Johannesburg for the CBC, sixteen years ago.
And I vaguely remember a perceptive, beautifully written story about Mandela as myth, written by one of the South African Broadcasting Corporation reporters on our writing workshop.
I find the script, deep in my files. No name on it. So sadly, I can’t tell you who wrote it.
The only change I make is to turn its format from spoken to written script.
Here it is.


A South American poet once said that the problem with revolutions is that they’re bred in the sacred space of myth.
But they happen in the profane space of history.
He could have had President Nelson Mandela in mind.

Mandela once said: “I live for a democratic South Africa. If necessary, I will die for it.”

When they heard that, the white men locked him up in prison for twenty-seven long, brutal, years.

During those years they tried to buy him. Tried to bribe him. Tried to break him.

But in the end he broke them.

Mandela — the prisoner who was always freer than his jailers.

The man whose dream of a democratic South Africa was far more powerful than the laws — and guns — of his enemies.
Mandela. One of the moral giants of our century.
All this, in the sacred space of myth.
Then one day … that long, long walk … that no easy walk … to freedom.
Hand in hand, under the sun that poured down like honey, with a smiling, violent woman — his wife. (Winnie was the first person to remind Mandela of the profane spaces of history.)
It was a magnificent moment.
Nelson Mandela strolling out of the long darkness to lead his country into the sunlight of a democracy he had offered to die for.
And now … it’s time Mandela went.
His job is done.
The miracle has happened. The evil beast that was apartheid is dead.
South Africa is a democracy.
The problem is that Mandela isn’t very good at history.
You see … he doesn’t do reality.
What he does is myth and gesture. Sacred myth. Sacred gesture.
But in a profane world.
mandelaLike donning the number six captain’s jersey at the Rugby World Cup.
The idea was to unite South Africans — black and white — behind the national team.
Nice moment. Brought a tear to the eye.
But the white rugby administrators didn’t get it. They weren’t in the sacred business of reconciliation.
They returned Mandela’s gesture with profanity.
They included a convicted white racist — guilty of murdering a black man — in the national team. And they dismissed the new regime as “just a bunch of kaffirs”.
More understandably, a lot of poor black people in the townships didn’t get it either.
Now there was a black government, they demanded everything. Refused to pay anything.
Profane reality.
As well as giving great gesture, the other thing Mandela does so well is his impression of God Almighty in a Cecil B. de Mille movie.
When his own party suggested reintroducing the death penalty to fight crime, the heavens opened.
A mighty voice boomed out. “Thou shalt not kill.”
Discussion over.
Another time, the whole country screamed for the head of his Health Minister.
Something to do with gross mismanagement in her department. Or possibly much, much worse.
A voice came from the clouds. “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
That, of course, was before she somehow couldn’t account for fifty-eight million rand missing from last year’s budget.
So it goes.
It makes your hair stand on end.
Rights are entrenched.
But hardly anything actually changes.
Only loyalty is valued.
Incompetence is ignored.
South Africa is held hostage by crime while Mandela solves the problems of Zaire, Zambia and Angola.
The bottom line is — the man just doesn’t belong in this world.
He’s larger than life.
He’s finer than the rest of us.
He really is.
His enemies, along with thousands of resourceful, ambitious journalists have tried to find flaws, weaknesses.
Anything to make him seem human.

Like the rest of us.

No luck.
The man has become the myth. The myth certainly becomes the man.


Tim Knight, Nelson Mandela

Tim Knight and Nelson Mandela. Taken on his 81st birthday, July 18, 2001 outside his Johannesburg home.


Mandela has said he will stand down as leader of the African National Congress next year.
And quit as president of South Africa the year after.
Meanwhile, Thabo Mbeki is being groomed to take over.
In fact, of course, Thabo already runs the country.
Badly for the most part.
He has some funny ideas.
He seems to dislike freedom of speech. He wants to run absolutely everything himself.
But that’s Ok. At least you can fight with Mbeki.
Unlike Mandela.
Thabo Mbeki, you see, lives in the profane world of reality.
Along with the rest of us.
Far, far away from the sacred space of  myth.
Far away from the myth that is Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.


Latest information is that Nelson Mandela, freedom fighter and first president of democratic South Africa, remains in critical condition in that Pretoria hospital.

Special GMO debate between Rachel Parent and Kevin O’Leary

Special GMO debate between Rachel Parent and Kevin O’Leary

From a very young age Rachel showed true compassion for the protection of animals, she also attended a small school that nurtured and encouraged caring for others by performing for the less fortunate, and elderly, including singing and playing guitar with the York Region Police choir.

When Rachel was 12 years old, she had to do a speech for all the students at her School  in Aurora, on a topic that would be of interest to her.  Rachel struggled trying to decide among topics such as GMOs, Animal Cruelty, Poverty in Canada and Global Deforestation. She decided on GMOs because of the opportunity to change so many lives, to better everyone’s health, and help improve our overburdened health care system.  Rachel understood that GMOs are affecting the entire planet, from humans to bees, the earth, and kids’ futures.  The topic of GMOs was a natural choice, as the situation was urgent and needed immediate attention. She won a medal for her speech.

Rachel then went on to prepare a speech for a live audience at a Right to Know event in Toronto and created a video which was posted to YouTube, urgently warning children about the dangers of GMOs.  One of her last projects included the baking of a massive 48” fresh apple pie, made without GMO Ingredients, which she brought to St James Park to share with those less fortunate. Rachel is also engaged in various activities, such as voiceover classes, guitar, dance and every year she attends an animal sanctuary rescue camp, to help with the care of tigers, monkey’s and lemurs.

For Rachel the GMO topic is personal as she has in the past traveled to Northern areas of South America, and Brazil’s Amazon, sensitive areas that are now being devastated for the planting of GM Soy.

Rachel has been featured in the following:




Don’t miss a special GMO debate between Rachel Parent, 14, and Kevin O’Leary on the Lang and O’Leary Exchange News, Wednesday, July 31st, 7pm EST on CBC Television.

Keep connected with Rachel Parent and the Kids Right To Know — Just Label It! Movement through the following links:

Rachel Parent, the 14-year-old activist and founder of Kids Right To Know who recently slammed Kevin O’Leary for his position on GMOs, has scored a debate with CBC’s arch-capitalist. Parent is scheduled to appear on “The Lang And O’Leary Exchange” on Wednesday, July 31st 7 PM, EST on CBC Television. She will debate O’Leary for 3 to 5 minutes on genetically modified foods (GMOs).

Background videos that led the Rachel Parent Kevin O’Leary Debate:

Link to O’Leary’s rant:

WATCH: This 14-year-old GMO activist isn’t afraid of Kevin O’Leary

Teen who slammed @KevinOLearyTV on GMOs gets her response

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