Mandela’s grandson calls out David Lammy on Gaza protests

Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela arrives for the opening of the exhibition “Mandela: The Official Exhibition” at Bikini Berlin shopping mall on October 18, 2019 in Berlin, Germany [Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images]

The grandson of famed South African president Nelson Mandela has criticised the UK Labour Party’s shadow secretary David Lammy for stating that his grandfather would not have supported the ongoing pro-Palestine college campus protests.

Lammy, who made an appearance in Washington DC on Wednesday, shared his disagreement with the Gaza solidarity demonstrations during his speech at the Hudson Centre among US Republicans.

The Labour politician stated that Mandela would have advocated for peaceful protesting instead of “violence and rioting”.  

During the 30th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s presidential inauguration, his grandson, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, emphatically disavowed Lammy’s remarks about his grandfather.

“Contrary to what David Lammy, the Labour MP in the UK, would like us to believe, [Nelson Mandela] acknowledged the heroes in the Civil Rights Movement in the USA and campuses all over the world who regularly protested for our freedom,” Zwelivelile Mandela said in a lengthy post on Instagram. 

He added that his grandfather was a supporter of armed resistance to face “increasing state brutality” against peaceful anti-apartheid protesters in South Africa. 

Reiterating Mandela’s commitment to “the Palestinian struggle”, Zwelivelile Mandela called Lammy “an apologist for genocide” in retaliation.

He added that he hoped the Shadow Secretary would instead “encourage all students on UK and European university campuses to emulate their fellow students in the USA in their call for a ceasefire in Gaza and support the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom.”

Zwelivelile Mandela went on to dedicate his address to pro-Palestine student activists and protesters who have set up encampments demanding a Gaza ceasefire and the divestment from Israel-linked companies. 

“I dedicate the memory of this day to the students protesting on USA University campuses calling for an immediate ceasefire of the genocide of Gaza and supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom,” he said. 

The late South African president and former political prisoner’s transformative work in the anti-apartheid struggle saw him continually condemn the ongoing apartheid-like treatment of Palestinians

In 1997, while still president of South Africa, Mandela connected the struggles of Africans in South Africa with those of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories during a speech, stating, “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, a sitting Member of Parliament in his country’s National Assembly, has been praised for upholding his family’s legacy of pro-Palestine solidarity. 

The protest encampments, which were first launched on 17 April at Columbia University, have now spread worldwide, including in countries such as France, Australia and Mexico.

In the US, the protests have been met with force from the police and have been cleared, resulting in the arrests of over 2,000 people and the academic suspension of many others. 

Footage taken from the crackdown shows police using riot gear, tactical vehicles and flash-bang devices to clear tent encampments and occupied buildings.   

Agencies contributed to this report.

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