JUST DENNIS: Mandela and Botha

Dennis Joseph
Dennis Joseph

Here is what then President of South Africa P W Botha said to his cabinet during the days of apartheid as rewritten by David Mailu for the South Africa Sunday Times August 1985

“Hence, we have good reasons to let them all the
Mandela’s rot in prison, and I think we should be
commended for having kept them alive in spite of what
we have at hand with which to finish them off. I wish
to announce a number of new strategies that should be
put to use to destroy this Black bug. We should now
make use of the chemical weapon. Priority number one,
we should not by all means allow any more increases of
the Black population lest we be choked very soon. I
have exciting news that our scientists have come with
an efficient stuff.”

Mandela was released from prison in  February 1990 after much pressure on Botha from the free world.  Here are some excerpts of  what he said to the world

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that

comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say.

Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun,

one’s feet moving forward.

There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity

was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.

That way lays defeat and death.

Living isn’t just about doing for yourself, but what you do for others as well.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains,

but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Pieter W Botha was known for his caustic tongue even to his own cabinet members, his ridiculing of his opponents in the vilest fashion but was considered a lightweight politician who was savagely protective of his power and ruthlessly exercised it over others.  However  behind his back he was also considered something of a clown for the things he said.

If our politicians could take a leaf out of the page of Mandela we would not have this “Lang sal” politics in the 21st Century.  Mr. Skerrit should take note that calling the Opposition dirty names is not going to solve the economic problems of Waitikubuli or get him re-elected.   His most recent remarks as reported calling the candidates of the opposition UWP “unemployed loiterers” is totally unbecoming of a Head of government.   While it may give a good laugh to those who support, must support and pretend to support him he should wonder how many of them go home and behind his back have a  another big laugh at his japes.  The backstabber episode when Ian Douglas behind his back told a sad story of his character exposing him as a serial backstabber should give him pause.

When Botha offered to release Mandela if he would in effect  betray the cause of his people he refused.  Botha was banking on the slave mentality kicking in and a scrambling for the crumbs from the master’s table.  Mandela’s position was very clear.  As was said to Jesus by the Canaanite woman, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs from the master’s table,” (Mat 15:27)  and so Mandela wanted whole change not just a false victory accepting and making do with  scraps of satisfaction.   Freedom was useless to him if his people were not free and so he stayed in Robben Island jail reserved for the worst criminals for more than 25 years.  That he rose to be the President of South Africa during the lifetime of a  withering P W Botha is a testimony to the words of Joseph of the Bible, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for my good.”(Gen 50:20)

As Nelson Mandela leaves us we should remember that his journey was difficult and perilous but it was his steadfast desire to rise above revenge and vengeful statements and to be dismissive of petty squabbling that made it possible for him to be respected at such a level even after his life is over. It is indeed an amazing story that a man who spent so much of his adult life locked up  in prison should now be an icon for freedom around the world.  Long after we are gone the world will speak of him and analyse his eventful life.  There will be books and more films about him for centuries to come.  While we as Christians believe that immortality comes after a resurrection from death,  many ancients believed  immortality meant that as long as people speak your name you never die.    Just like was said of Abraham Lincoln so it is now being said of Mandela that he now belongs to the ages.

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    December 9, 2013

    Masterpiece that’s all I can say. Blessed!

  2. Anonymous
    December 9, 2013

    I’m sorry… but why this pic??

  3. TomPaine
    December 9, 2013

    I really found your piece interesting. But comparing Madiba Mandela to P.W Botha is obscene and repulsive to the sensibilities of some Africans in the diaspora. Botha does not belong in the same sentence with Mandela. For the benefit of the youth, most Africans are now comparing Mandela to another iconic son of Africa. That is no other than Kwame Nkrumah who spearheaded the independence struggle on the continent from his base in Ghana. The comparison between these two giants have been the focus if the general public in Africa.

  4. Justice and Truth
    December 8, 2013

    Dennis, is the topic not pertaining to Mandela and Botha? Why bring the PM and his name into this? I do not see your point. You wrote this article, why did you not stick to the subject matter?

  5. Anonymous
    December 8, 2013

    You all only support Denis writing when he is political? What a shame!

  6. Anonymous
    December 8, 2013

    Short and sweet piece of written knowledge with wisdom.

  7. by the school
    December 8, 2013

    Excellently written. And indeed, the Botha / Mandela equation should give the present government pause. Saddam Hussein was hung after found hiding in a hole. Gadaffi also was found hiding in a hole before he too died in ignominy. “Unemployed loiterers?” Ou kay sav.

  8. "O" STRESS"
    December 8, 2013

    A true leader and a real “ICON” depends so much on what he or she does to better others and create an atmosphere where all people can dwell in love, Peace, and happiness, one who allows his or her action speak for itself rather than the chest beating, macho, the me first then all others when I have served myself, as we are witnessing in our World today despite the countless of examples left behind by the likes of Nelson Mandela and others, some still get intoxicated and carried away by wearing their badge of selfishness, and still consider them self powerful and deserving of praises, not so fast to all concern, think of the legacy we will leave behind to better man kind rather than gain the whole World and lose our own soul. The world is watching and history will never treat us right, for empty vessels make the most noise. “Who the Cap fit let them wear it.” That might be under consideration for a long time, but will not lost on the conscience of the person who believe in the hard truth no matter how un comfortable it may be. When we are quick to point our finger at others lets have the other nine pointing at our self. It must be Sunday.

  9. 4CARS
    December 8, 2013

    The “stuff” they came up with is the AIDS VIRUS. This was manufactured to kill off black people.

    • MZUNGU
      December 8, 2013

      your ignorance and stupidity is beyond imagination…AIDS is a problem for entire human race – black, white, asian etc ….

      • Justice and Truth
        December 8, 2013

        MZUNGU, 4 CARS is not ignorant and stupid; made a good point which I have also heard/read. Have respect for the views of others and respect for everyone.
        All these were stated. Where have you been or were you yet to be born when it was stated?
        Certain US people stated AIDS originated from an African monkey and also blamed African blacks for AIDS.
        In those days, one Sunday afternoon I watched a US TV debate about this. I even taped it while viewing it. Many were in the audience when it was being discussed, no doubt paid to present and listen to this debate.
        Let us state that they first placed it on African negroes; not the so-called white man. The problem is how did the so-called white man contract AIDS? Many have it; some have since died and some are dying with more to come.
        AIDS is a scourge on the world, on those who live immoral lives. Sadly, innocent ones as wives/husbands and even babies in the womb contracted it.
        Fortunate for those who have not (yet) contracted it. There is no cure for AIDS and no turning back. Let no one deceive you otherwise.
        Let us pray for the world and never cease doing so as long as we live.

    December 8, 2013

    Dennis this one was very touching Mandela image will never die he served his purpose on earth and he has gone to serve another kind of purpose in heaven. RIP Nelson Mandela

  11. law and order
    December 8, 2013

    Well written as always, the world lost its way, the Caribbean lost its way and the dream of men of integrity,like Williams and Manley and Leblanc today, the Dominica Labour Party has lost its way and its vision of integrity and self-determination for its people. Dominicans have to find that vision, again based on integrity.

  12. December 7, 2013

    Brilliant piece

  13. Observer
    December 7, 2013

    Oh please, give us a break and don’t bring your dirty politics and ignoramus notions to such a high platform as Mandela.

  14. Toronto
    December 7, 2013

    Powerfully articulated!

  15. What u see
    December 7, 2013

    Well said. Mandela was indeed simply put: ‘a very special individual.’ Yes, those remarks from our PM were unbecoming. I like many non-partisan Dominicans, was quite disappointed by those type of remarks. The sad reality is we think that the opposition is capable of the same, but is being more cautious before elections. A sorry state indeed.

  16. Oh Yes
    December 7, 2013

    You are a man of much wisdom. Share your thoughts with the objective, willing to learn and progressive minds.

  17. shaka zulu
    December 7, 2013

    As i said before if mandela is not considered for Sainthood then we have seen the last saint.

  18. Love I
    December 7, 2013

    Botha is dead…he was a real dirty pig and racist although he was born in South Africa, he lived to see Mandella become President…..that must have hurt his heart..hahahaa….God is wonderful..

    • Justice and Truth
      December 9, 2013

      We should wonder, did Botha ask God for forgiveness for his racist attitude? Did God forgive him? If not, we know where his soul is today to his eternal detriment.
      Nelson Mandela must be smiling all the way to Heaven.
      God is patient! He is watching from above and taking note of every human action.
      In those days of apartheid, I said to a few people, how could those people be Christians, go to church, pray and treat those Africans in such an inhumane manner?
      For one, they did not love God. How could they love God who they cannot see and hate their brothers and sisters in the Lord whom they can see? Those people were something else.
      I hate to state this, Hell is their lot for what they have done to those Africans, placing themselves superior because of the color of their skin, higher than those Africans. My words are insufficient to express my feelings of those so-called white people.
      Thank God because of Nelson Mandela and other freedom fighters, some who had lost their lives, today, these Africans are free. It was a long journey and fight for them but they got it, thanks to Mandela. God bless his soul.
      Rest in God’s heavenly peace, Nelson Mandela. You have fought the good fight amidst obstacles and struggles and you won all the way to eternity. Rest from your works. With the help and grace of God, hope we (I mean all others) meet someday in God’s Glorious Blissful, Everlasting Kingdom.

  19. Serious
    December 7, 2013

    Well said my brother! The PM should realize that the “tongue” which might be considered one of the smallest members of the body can be the most unruly and destructive. Words are powerful and the Bible says: “Death and life lies in the power of the tongue” Therefore as much as we get excited and zealous about our passion for politics, our leaders need to be mindful of what they say. God bless President Mandela, now it is up to us to put what he has taught us into action if we want to keep his legacy alive!!!!!

  20. real possie
    December 7, 2013

    Heading Mandela and Botha I stopped reading any thing Denis has to say so I was like ok is no way he’s going to bring DA politics in this yea rite,so I started proof reading just to be sure knowing how these uwp people think so said so done Skerrit dude why cant u just show respect to a great man and move on?Heading should read Madiba,Botha and Skerrit stop masking u all propaganda even people death u all want to make mileage with,lord only in DA.

  21. Love I
    December 7, 2013

    Denis, Nelson Mandella is our todays Moses….God chose him for this purpose..he had to suffer all this to win…God knew his purpose for him, and he served with humility and dignity…God bless his soul….the present G/ment in Dominica should take note……What happened to Botha??????

  22. Giselle
    December 7, 2013

    A well-written article!

  23. no way
    December 7, 2013


  24. December 7, 2013

    good reading.

  25. December 7, 2013

    Educational article, well said.

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