The world pays tribute to Mandela (slideshow)
As South Africans come to terms with the loss of former president Nelson Mandela, the rest of the world bids farewell to Madiba.
Pimples: Saving Madiba's rabbit (video)
Gwede, Mac and Blade try their best to stop the rabbit from whispering in Mandela's ear. But the elusive animal has some tricks up its sleeve.
Zapiro's best Madiba cartoons (slideshow)
From his toughest moments to his most triumphant, Madiba has been an inspiration. Here are some of our favourite Zapiro cartoons about him from 1994 to 2013.
Mandela: SA's greatest son laid to rest (slideshow)
The world watched as Nelson Mandela was finally laid to rest in his hometown of Qunu following a dignified and moving funeral ceremony on Sunday.
I don't want to see folks satisfied when they talk about Nelson Mandela. He constitutes such a challenge to us -- an intellectual challenge, a political challenge, a moral challenge, and an existential challenge.
So I want to begin on a Socratic note. You can't talk about Nelson Mandela without talking about that Athenian who walked around barefoot in the snow with that beautiful flat nose, big lips, a potbelly and a huge neck. I am talking about Socrates. You may recall his famous line, "The unexamined life is not worth living," exemplified in so many ways by Nelson Mandela as an extension of that Socratic tradition.
Let us not make Nelson Mandela some kind of icon on a pedestal belonging to a museum. He is a wave in an ocean, part of a rich tradition that raises certain kinds of questions, beginning with our own lives and our willingness to muster the courage to examine who we are as humans ...
I don't know about you in South Africa, but in the United States we have a middle class, especially a black middle class, that has become intoxicated with the felicities of bourgeois existence. The black middle class in the United States has become drunk with the wine of the world, of materialism, narcissism, and hedonism.
And then we wonder why the younger generation does not have access to the traditions of the struggle? They don't see enough of it in the older generation. There is no such thing as "young people's behaviour" that is not, in part, an imitation of that to which they are exposed. Preach to young folks to be successful rather than to be great and they will think it's all about success. Do you really believe that Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, A Phillip Randolph and Malcolm X died so that you can just be successful? Do you think they died so that you can just be peacocks, walking around saying, "look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me!" Somebody needs to tell those peacocks to stop because they can't fly.
Mandela comes from a tradition in which black folks are flying in the air like a Toni Morrison novel, rising in the wind like a blues melody, like an eagle. But in America they shoot eagles to feed pigeons, which is another way of saying that all that materialism -- the clothes, the cars, the houses, the mansions, the status -- is nothing but the paraphernalia of suffering, an attempt to distance yourself from the suffering because you have had so much of it. But these forms of idolatry are connected to certain forms of dogma.
We live in a world in which the dogma of free-market fundamentalism is global, ascribing magical powers to privatisation as if that is the only response to structural issues. This is nothing but a form of dogma -- and that form of dogma is deployed in order to hide and conceal the interests of the elites at the top, losing sight of working people and poor people.
I don't demonise markets because human beings created markets, which means they can be used for good or ill. Markets are here to stay, but markets also produce asymmetrical relations of power between bosses and workers. We live in a time when workers find themselves up against a brick wall and poor people are rendered invisible, as if they don't count at all. They are just cannon fodder for the global elites.
In the United States, the people are cannon fodder for a racist criminal justice system that connects to the prison industrial complex. In America, black people constitute 12% of the population and 51% of the prison population. They don't count for anything in society so they are simply warehoused for cheap labour. There are no serious discussions about it, even among most of the black leaders. This is because so many of those leaders have become seduced by the neoliberal Washington consensus.
Who wants to cut against the grain and believe somehow that there ought to be distributive measures along the way of market growth? Who wants to talk that way? All of that is said to be old-fashioned and outdated now. But that is not the case at all. All it simply means is that deeply conservative and powerful right-wing ideologues have been able to reshape the globe in the image of corporate elites and for the interests of corporate elites, no matter what colour they are.
And here, in this new democracy of South Africa, you have to deal with this treacherous terrain of the Washington consensus. How will you respond? How will South African leaders be true to the deep, democratic commitments of the ANC and of that grand Freedom Charter of 26 June 1955? How will you be true to the memory of those who came before and yet be able to practically survive on that treacherous terrain?
This is an edited extract from a July 2005 lecture by United States academic Cornel West published in The Meaning of Mandela: A literary and intellectual celebration, edited by Xolela Mangcu (HSRC Press), to be launched on July 12.