The strong words of former President Nelson Mandela at an international women’s forum held in Johannesburg at the end of January 2003, may reflect the thinking of many African leaders. Some would like to say even more about their disagreement with President Bush. They may even tie it into his cancellation of his trip to five African nations in early January. He used the weak excuse that the cancellation is due to the current crisis centered on Iraq. For instance, in his recent trip to Europe he stated that terrorists or others would not deter him from making trips to other parts of the world to attend conferences. Many Africans have watched the United States’ focus on West African oil and the administration’s attempt to buy African leaders to keep them quiet as the United States pursues this unjust war in the Middle East.

If and when this war starts, it will undoubtedly kill innocent men, women and children. Africa has a population of approximately 800 million, half of which is comprised of Muslims. There is no doubt that the Muslim population of Africa from North to South will feel a sense of pain to see the death and destruction of their brothers and sisters in Iraq. President Mandela is calling President Bush someone who is pushing America to the brink of war and described him as a person who has no “foresight and cannot think properly.” These are strong words from the former President of South Africa, who went further to state that, “Mr. Bush’s warmongerings is for the control of Iraq’s oil.”

Those who thought the freedom fighter President Mandela, who was incarcerated in South Africa thanks to the assistance of the CIA, had lost any of his fire, listen to his next statement. President Mandela stated: “Mr. Bush is disregarding the United Nations because the Secretary General Kofi Annan is a Black man. The position that America is taking against the UN would have never happened if the Secretary-General were a White man.”


He makes a strong point. In the last few months, we have barely heard a word from Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the American press. It is almost as if he has been marginalized and stripped of his power. It is well known that he disagrees with the way that America is pursuing this attack on Iraq. President Mandela did not stop there; he ratcheted up his attack on America’s misguided foreign policy as it pertains to Iraq to a new level. He criticized the United States for complaining about Iraq’s human rights record, asserting that America’s conscience is far from clean. Mr. Mandela pointed out the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. He asked the question, since they decided to kill innocent people in Japan who are still suffering from that bombing, who are they now to pretend they are the policemen of the world?

It gave great joy to those of us who follow African news to see how the Pan African Congress of South Africa cheered President Mandela for his strong stand. We feel that Brother Nelson Mandela’s stand will give strength to other African leaders who are not bought and paid for by the West with a little aid. They should speak up strongly and clearly.

In February, South Africa plans a big anti-war march. This march in South Africa will be a source of inspiration for demonstrations against this unjust war across the African continent. As the African Union begins to prepare for their meeting in July in Mozambique, there will be no doubt that one of the agenda items will be the African Union’s stand against the war in Iraq. Nelson Mandela, at 84 years of age, still has the clarity of mind as well as his fire. He cannot be bought or sold, so he speaks as a free man and a free African who is speaking out not only for the African people, but also injustice anywhere in the world. I send a warm African salute to a genuine African hero, Brother Nelson Mandela.

(Akbar Muhammad is the international representative of the Nation of Islam and Minister Louis Farrakhan. His focus has been the continent of Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim World. He has traveled to 37 countries on the African continent and was a resident of Accra, Ghana for eleven years. Send e-mail to [email protected].)