Mandela Sworn in as Freedom Reigns

By MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writer | Wednesday, May 11, 1994

PRETORIA—Climaxing his journey from political prisoner to nation builder, Nelson Mandela assumed the office of president of South Africa yesterday vowing that “never again” would racial exploitation be tolerated.
In a joyous ceremony that marked the end of the country’s pariah status and celebrated the nation’s transformation into a beacon of racial reconciliation, Mandela proclaimed: “Let freedom reign.”
The American delegation included U.S. Vice President Al Gore, First Lady Hillary Clinton and Jesse Jackson. Gore said South Africa has sent a powerful message to the world that differences can be set aside for the sake of a nation.
Watched by international visitors including Vice President Gore, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and Cuban President Fidel Castro, Mandela spoke in deep, measured tones as he swore allegiance to the new republic and its constitution.
As he said, “So help me God,” shouts of “Viva” rang out from the huge, multi-racial crowd gathered at the foot of the Union Buildings amphitheater.
In his inaugural address, Mandela, 75, urged South Africans to forget past bitterness and unite to end poverty, suffering and discrimination.
“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign,” Mandela said, standing on the outdoor podium enclosed in 7 tons of bullet-proof glass.
He made special mention of the role played by President of F.W. de Klerk, with whom he shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year, and recalled the colleagues and comrades who died in the struggle for freedom.
A glorious sun burned away the autumn morning mist as the estimated 50,000 people in the audience watched on mammoth television screens as dignitaries arrived from all over the world.
The audience, made up of largely ANC supporters, was never at loss for entertainment. American and African jazz, as well as South African folk music was also piped in over mammoth speakers.
Cannons boomed when Mandela finished his speech, and the South African security forces—which will have to make the tenuous peace in the nation last—put on a spectacular five-minute show of aerobatics.
Then the party really began as 3,000 performers representing all the nation’s racial groups, sang and danced well into the night yesterday in a show themed: “South Africa—Many Cultures, One Nation.”
The problems facing Mandela and his new government are staggering: 40% unemployment, 50% illiteracy, widespread crime and political violence that has killed 11,000 people since 1990, ethnic polarization and the impatience of tens of millions of blacks demanding a better life now that apartheid is over.

BREAKING THE CHAINS

By GENE MUSTAIN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers | Sunday, April 3, 1994

JOHANNESBURGAgainst a backdrop of hope and fear, a nation’s epic march toward democracy has entered a bloody home stretch.

The people of South Africa—including, for the first time, the majority black population—will go to the polls later this month and alter the course of their bitter history.

They will elect a new national government and officially close the door on apartheid—the code of racist law by which some 5.6 million whites kept 24 million blacks and others of mixed race in symbolic chains for nearly half a century.

“It’s a liberation election that finally puts the beast of apartheid in the grave,” said Larry Shore, a Hunter College professor who, like many white activist South Africans, left the country long ago out of fear or disgust.

Continue reading “BREAKING THE CHAINS”

TAKE NOTE, AMERICANS_Lessons from Across the Sea

By MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writer | Sunday, April 3, 1994

Saraan Ajaye did not even know South Africa was a country until she took a human rights course a year ago.

Ajaye, a senior at the Bronx alternative high school Schomburg Satelite Academy, now sees the country’s gallop to democracy after three centuries of oppression as a civics lesson.

Never take your vote for granted, she said, pointing out how low turnout of African-American and Latino voters affected the outcome of the recent mayoral election. “As soon as I turned 18, I registered to vote,” she added.

Continue reading “TAKE NOTE, AMERICANS_Lessons from Across the Sea”

UNEASY CALM IN EYE OF S. AFRICA STORM

By GENE MUSTAIN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers | Sunday, April 3, 1994

JOHANNESBURG—The epicenter of the violence that rattled this city last week remained a place of frayed nerves and bullet-riddled glass yesterday.

Outside the headquarters of the African National Congress Party, a security guard quickly confronted two visitors who stepped beneath the red and white tape strung chest high along the sidewalk.

Seemingly out of nowhere a car with three men wearing sunglasses and looks of suspicion pulled up to the curb.

Once convinced the visitors came in peace, the guard relaxed enough to talk about the violent moments that led late last week to a war-like state of emergency being declared in the Natal province—the Zulu heartland.

“The shooting here lasted only five minutes,” he said, standing beside the display window commemorating the upcoming all-race elections.

“Over there,” he added, pointing across Plein St., to a 12-story apartment building. “Snipers started firing. And if there’s trouble again, I will know what to do.”

Continue reading “UNEASY CALM IN EYE OF S. AFRICA STORM”

CAULDRON OF CHANGE

Text: MICHAEL O. ALLEN; Maps & Design: JIM WILLIS | Sunday, April 3, 1994

HISTORY’S LESSONS

South Africa, as it enters a world made uncertain by the end of apartheid, should look to the post-independence experiences of Namibia and Zimbabwe.

The same fears being raised today about South Africa’s stumble to democracy were raised in Zimbabwe leading up to its independence from Britain in 1980. and in Namibia a decade later when it emerged from under the thumb of South Africa.

A quick answer—if Namibia and Zimbabwe are guides—is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The liberation fighters who took power retain firm control in both nations. Power has not made blacks wealthier, however. In both instances, they are as poor today as they ever were under white domination.

Whites in both situations, retain economic power and live as well as they ever have.

Namibia, though its blacks remain dreadfully poor, is peaceful today and is much forgotten by the rest of the world.

Zimbabwe, after a brief but violent aftermath to its independence, is poised for its third election next year. It has the most vigorous press in Africa, a stable, though not vibrant, economy and a fairly content white population.

1.   IN TRANSITION

The multi-racial Transitional Executive Council shares broad governing powers with South Africa’s ruling National Party.

Continue reading “CAULDRON OF CHANGE”

MANDELA—BORN TO RULE

By GENE MUSTAIN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers | Sunday, April 3, 1994

JOHANNESBURG—He carries himself like he was born to power—and he was, 75 years ago, in a hut at the bottom of the African continent.

His family ran the village; a cousin, with whom he lived while a teen, was chief of the surrounding region. Under a stand of eucalyptus trees that was the tribal courthouse, they prepared Nelson Mandela to follow in their footsteps.

“The genesis of my ideas is under these trees,” said the Old Man, as he is known among his followers, during a homecoming last month.

Continue reading “MANDELA—BORN TO RULE”

DE KLERK—WHITE HOPE

By MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writer | Sunday, April 3, 1994

The scenes are stunning: blacks lustily cheering apartheid scion Frederik Willem de Klerk as he campaigns for re-election to the presidency of South Africa.

The happy candidate obliges by donning Zulu tribal hats, carrying spears and cowhide shields.

“I’m white,” he told one black audience, “but my heart pumps the same red blood as the red blood in the heart of every South African.”

De Klerk, 58, was born into a staunchly political Afrikaner family in the Transvaal. As his great-grandfather and his father, he represented the province in parliament. So, the deeply religious father of three caught most people by surprise when he began dismantling apartheid.

Continue reading “DE KLERK—WHITE HOPE”

FEAR STALKS THE LAND_‘Whole country has gone mad’

By GENE MUSTAIN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers, Wednesday | April 6, 1994

JOHANNESBURG—The looming national election has laid a new carpet of fear across this already traumatized and hyper-vigilant society.

With three weeks to go, gun stores and food stores are running out of weapons and non-perishable food, and many whites are bailing out—for the duration of the campaign and its uncertain aftermath, if not for good.

“The whole country has gone mad,” said the owner of a gun store in the seemingly non-violent suburb of Birnam, as he busied himself with customers unhappy to learn that his stock of weapons was practically depleted.

“All I’ve got left are some old M-1 rifles,” he said, as he showed an elderly white man how to load a shotgun the man had brought to the store. “The demand has outstripped my supply. It’s the same all over.”

Continue reading “FEAR STALKS THE LAND_‘Whole country has gone mad’”

VISIT TO SOWETO_INSIDE THE NECKLACE Pointless deaths but real victims

By GENE MUSTAIN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers, Wednesday | April 6, 1994

SOWETO—He was an unidentified man, a weekly newspaper reported, and lucky for him that the police and paramedics came along when they did.

He was walking past the Dube Hostel, a decrepit barracks-like encampment where the so-called Zulu royalists live, when a man from the hostel came up and shot him in the face as the day sank toward night.

“Bastards!” he screamed, through his fractured jaw.

But the shooter and some other Zulu royalists were not finished. They wrapped the man in plastic, put him in a cardboard box, doused the box with gasoline and set it afire.

Continue reading “VISIT TO SOWETO_INSIDE THE NECKLACE Pointless deaths but real victims”

VISIT TO SOWETO_A tormented past, uncertain future Poverty, violence crowd out hopes

By MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writer | Sunday, April 10, 1994

SOWETO—Seeing this famous black township brings to mind ruins of war, of battle just done.

On nighttime approach—home to the Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, and Tswana tribes—the flames of random trash fires send millions of sparks into an eerie sky heavy with the stench of rotting animals.

This is Soweto—land of misery, despair, and heartbreak, of senseless deaths, crushing poverty, frightening crime and urban squalor.

Funeral parlor owners have the most lucrative business, the most beautiful homes and affluence that rival that of Johannesburg’s wealth white suburbs.

Continue reading “VISIT TO SOWETO_A tormented past, uncertain future Poverty, violence crowd out hopes”

Afrikaner Memorial gets new owners

By GENE MUSTAIN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers | Wednesday, April 13, 1994

PRETORIA—The prospect of black majority rule has resulted in the privatization of this country’s most famous monument.

In a move akin to turning the Statute of Liberty over to the Manhattan Institute, the departing white minority government has transferred ownership of the Voortrekker Monument to a conservative citizens group.

The monument, a huge stone monolith atop a hill overlooking this capital city, celebrates the Afrikaners—whites of Dutch, German and French descent who “trekked” into the interior and defeated black Zulus 150 years ago.

Continue reading “Afrikaner Memorial gets new owners”

Blacks live in N.Y.—that’s no put on

By GENE MUSTAIN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers | Monday, April 11, 1994

  • JOHANNESBURG—This is a time and a city for keeping a journal:

Yes, Princess, New York is in the U.S.A. and black people live there.

Most black South Africans have had little contact with American blacks, so little that Princess Mgwebi, a security officer at a hospital in the black township of Soweto, was astonished last week when a black reporter from New York introduced himself.

“I didn’t know there are black people in New York,” she said.

Told that indeed black people live in New York and all over the U.S., her jaw dropped. “New York is part of the United States?” she said, wrinkling the vertical facial scars that indicated she was of the Ndebele tribe.

“Yes, and many blacks live there.

“Well,” Mgwebi said, not entirely sure she was not being put on. “I know there are blacks in the United States because that is where Michael Jackson is from, and I know he is black.” Continue reading “Blacks live in N.Y.—that’s no put on”

The killing fields of Zululand

By GENE MUSTAIN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers | Sunday, April 17, 1994

DURBAN—Andy Cox wept for South Africa last week.

He cried when his frantic search through the lush green bush of Zululand came to its dreadful end, and he wept again when he faced the relatives of the missing men. Two days ago, the horror was still so close he could not describe what he saw without breaking down twice more.

“How can we ever have peace when people are this way?” he said. “This was so savage.”

The dead were poor young Zulus. They were day laborers for Cox, a young white businessman hired by the government to distribute non-partisan pamphlets about the upcoming election — which has created a figurative Mason-Dixon line of killing hate in KwaZulu, the Zulu homeland surrounding this seaside city.

Last Monday, they wandered over the wrong side of the line—into an area controlled by KwaZula’s chief minister, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who sent mediator Henry Kissinger packing later in the week by demanding the impossible, the postponent of the nation’s first non-racial election.

Around noon, shortly after their driver telephoned Cox’s office and said they were thinking of leaving because the area seemed tense, the victims were kidnapped, tortured, shot, hacked and set afire. As different points along the frenzied bloodletting, the driver and two others managed to escape.

“I lay on the ground and pretended I was dead,” said one of the survivors, a teenager named Lucky Mkhwanazi. “Then I ran.”

Continue reading “The killing fields of Zululand”