Torch On Robben Island Burial In Simi Valley

Updated: December 29, 2007


Our media age.

Our image age. Different than before and the same as always. Here Two Journeys. One of Hope the other Sadness. Where do they intersect ? In a variety of ways beginning here in the Box.

First and foremost it is the 2004 Olympic Torch making its way through South Africa that sets the stage for bringing Nelson Mandela, 86, and Ronald Reagan, 93, together today. They are at the center of the week’s two most powerful images half a world away from each other. Even more philosophically.

The Journey of the Torch becomes more elaborate and more of a major Sponsorship all by itself with each new Olympic. Thank you Coca Cola and the millions you spent for the right to brand this year’s Torch.

This Torch is making a world wide journey which began in Greece and will conclude in Greece in about two months. Next Saturday the Torch will be in New York City.

This Saturday it was in the hands of Nelson Mandela holding it aloft on the notorious island off Cape Town< on which he was imprisoned for so many years for the dastardly ‘crime’ of wanting freedom for Black South Africans and an end to apartheid.

Ultimately Mandela won Big. Very Big. He left prison finally in 1990 to become the President of his nation four years later, the father of his country and a Symbol for the Ages. Just as the Republicans here are trying to do with Ronald Reagan’s memory. Mandela did it without a huge media machine at his back. In President Reagan’s case they are pulling out all the Stops.

We have just finished watching Ronald Reagan’s last movie toward that End. Some movie critics would call it his best character because he was flawless in his silent role and everyone else did the acting for him.

Luckily we have not reached the point where Reagan’s son will now carry the Olympic Torch past his grave in San Simi, California next week. Maybe if he had waited to the 2008 Olympics who knows what might be acceptable for the Torch Relay. Ronnie that Torch may still come to you.

Back to Nelson Mandela and a less surreal reality. Putting the Torch in Mandela’s hands this weekend is yet another signal of the intersection of life and sports.

Just as is South Africa’s selection for the 2010 Soccer World Cup two weeks ago.

Olympics reflect the character of the world in the year they take place, and the state of individual nations. That is why the limited number of sports at the Olympic that African American athletes will compete is an accurate reflection of the limited participation of Blacks in American society today.

Nelson Mandela carrying the Olympic Torch reflects a different message. One of hope for the future of the Games and the World.

Also consider this. While Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, Nelson Mandela sat rotting in a prison cell. President Reagan did nothing to bring about the release of Nelson Mandela while he could have done that with the same passion he attached the Soviet Union and with results that would have been much faster and for which Reagan would have truly deserved credit.

Rather Ronald Reagan did Nothing to free Nelson Mandela. Just as he did nothing here to free African Americans >from discrimination and poverty in America.

In fact things got worse for Black Americans while gentle Ronald Reagan was President. He constantly used code words like “welfare mothers” to viciously attack those he despised.

But yes yes he was such a nice man always Smiling.

Oh yes we were reminded a thousand times this week when President Reagan met anyone even the Black shoe shine who buffed his shoes he was more than polite and friendly with everyone. And it did not stop him for a moment for promoting some of the most regressive policies and spending of any President during the 20th century.

Nelson Mandela for all his suffering, suffering Ronald Reagan never experienced in his pampered life has outlived President Reagan. That is one Victory for Mandela.

Nelson Mandela will experience an even much bigger victory over the American President who stood by and did nothing as hundreds of millions around the world tried to get Nelson Mandela out of prison in the 1980s. Nelson Mandela ultimately won his freedom in spite of Ronald Reagan and South African establishment loving Republican administration.

That will forever be a dark stain on Reagan’s ‘legacy.’ His image as an enlightened leader freeing the world >from Tyranny.

The big victory for Nelson Mandela yet to come as he raised the Olympic Torch in Triumph this week off >Cape Town still alive while President Reagan lies buried is this ….

World History will assuredly rank Nelson Mandela far far above Ronald Reagan as one of the great leaders of the 20th century. Outside of the USA it will not even be close.

President Nelson Mandela has it all over President Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan rest in Peace.

Nelson Mandela keep on keeping on !