National liberation leaders of Africa meet: Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Moammar Gadhafi of Libya embrace in Tripoli, October 1997.
For most Africans, Qaddafi is a generous man, a humanist, known for his unselfish support for the struggle against the racist regime in South Africa. If he had been an egotist, he wouldn’t have risked the wrath of the West to help the ANC both militarily and financially in the fight against apartheid.
This was why Mandela, soon after his release from 27 years in jail, decided to break the U.N. embargo and travel to Libya on Oct. 23, 1997. For five long years, no plane could touch down in Libya because of the embargo. One needed to take a plane to the Tunisian city of Jerba and continue by road for five hours to reach Ben Gardane, cross the border and continue on a desert road for three hours before reaching Tripoli. The other solution was to go through Malta, and take a night ferry on ill-maintained boats to the Libyan coast. A hellish journey for a whole people, simply to punish one man.
Mandela didn’t mince his words when former U.S. President Bill Clinton said the visit was an “unwelcome” one: “No country can claim to be the policeman of the world and no state can dictate to another what it should do.” He added, “Those that yesterday were friends of our enemies have the gall today to tell me not to visit my brother Qaddafi. They are advising us to be ungrateful and forget our friends of the past.”It was only on July 2, 2008, that the U.S. Congress finally voted to remove the name of Nelson Mandela and his ANC comrades from their [terrorist] blacklist, not because they realized how stupid that list was but because they wanted to mark Mandela’s 90th birthday. If the West was truly sorry for its past support for Mandela’s enemies and really sincere when they name streets and places after him, how can they continue to wage war against someone who helped Mandela and his people to be victorious: Qaddafi?
Indeed, the West still considered the South African racists to be their brothers who needed to be protected. That’s why the members of the ANC, including Nelson Mandela, were considered to be dangerous terrorists.
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