O’siyo. We mourn the passing of the iconic South African leader Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Mr. Mandela A Xhosa, born to the Thembu Royal Family in South Africa, was a Prince, Scholar, Political activist against apartheid, Prisoner, President, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and spokesman on the behalf of all aboriginal people and the injustices they face. During his speech in the Oakland, California stadium in 1990, Mr. Mandela recognized Native American Indians as “The First American Nation.” The following excerpts are from Native American Indians who remember hearing Mr. Mandela speak that day.
Excerpt: Iconic Nelson Mandela…Sympathized with American Indians By Levi Rickert – Native News Online.
“Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison and after his release became the first black South African president died Thursday. He was 95 years old.
The anti-apartheid revolutionary’s death was announced by South Africa Jacob Zuma just before midnight on Friday in Johannesburg.
In 1990, Mr. Mandela held a rally in the Oakland Coliseum where he referred to American Indians as “the first American nation.” American Indians were pleased Mr. Mandela spoke out on their behalf.”
Nelson Mandela (1990):
Mr. Mandela said he had received a number of messages from the first American nation, the American Indians… “I can assure you they have left me very disturbed, and if I had time I would visit their areas and get from them an authoritative description of the difficulties under which they live.”The New York Times 7/1/90
“I was there at the Oakland Coliseum. I had just moved to the Bay Area and went to hear Mandela speak. He mentioned American Indians and I felt so proud, I know that many American Indians from the entire Bay area also attended. In fact, I think I remember seeing a delegation in their regalia. This may have been the group that was planning on presenting Mandela with robes or something, but it never happened. I know that he did mention the American Indian Movement and did thank all of us that were involved.
I do remember that he mentioned the contributions and struggles of American Indians during his speech. I felt so proud and happy to be there on that day. It really did feel like something quite historic.”
Anna Rondon, Navajo who works for the Navajo Nation and lives near Zuni, New Mexico, wrote on a website on Mandela’s birthday this year;
“As a Dine (Navajo) woman, I recognize that Mr. Mandela has always spoke out on the injustices of apartheid over the many decades.
When he was born, American Indian Nations were still fighting our battles over land and resources. In 1913, the Mescalero Apaches were released from Fort Sill Prison after 26 years of incarceration. Our histories share the horror and today we still see the subtle yet, deadly genocidal indigenous policies. Mr. Mandela, you gave us resisters, protectors of water, land, air and fire the strength to fight for justice here in the United States.”
“Greeting my relatives, friends, and supporters: It saddens me to hear that a great man like Nelson Mandela has departed from this lifetime. He was a man who was truly inspirational and showed us the possibilities of how a continued struggle by indigenous people could manifest itself in levels of freedom that have been marred by centuries of oppression. Our Native people suffered the same types of oppression many times. It is not as overt and as easily distinguished as in some places; “ NativeNewsOnline.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”
~ Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela~ (July 18, 1918-December 5, 2013)
The world has lost a true Hero…
atsawesolvsdi wigedohesdi dohiyi…wado.
Rest in Peace Mandela.