Is It Ever As Simple As Black and White?

Oliver Tambo- portraitI have to be honest and say that the past two Have you Heard From Johannesburg documentaries have somewhat confused me as I feel they have been rather contradictory in nature.

As I stated in my previous post, I explained that after watching Part One of the documentary, I felt I had judged the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations too harshly in the sense that I thought they were hypocritical. After watching Part 1, I believe I had judged too Soviet Union Symbolharshly as the documentary depicted Great Britain and the United States trying to help the anti apartheid movement. However, after watching the second part of the documentary I have learned that this was not the case. In fact, both the U.S and Britain were so unhelpful that Oliver Tambo was forced to reach out to the Soviet Union for help – resulting in the U.S and other nations condemning South Africa for their associations with the Soviet Union, labeling them communists.

After thinking, I’ve come to a few conclusions regarding Part 1 and Part 2 of the Have You Heard From Johannesburg documentaries and my confusion with the United Nations. What I’ve now gathered is that perhaps the situation was not as clear cut as I am trying to make it be. While the United Nations, as a whole, did not help South Africa (as would be appropriate in regards to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), the Charter of the United Nations was initially a source of hope for those in South Africa resisting the apartheid…. Followed by, what I would assume, a huge disappointment. Nonetheless, the human rights doctrine was made under good intentions and instilled a sense of hope, regardless of the actions of those leading the United Nations. Secondly, while the U.S and Great Britain did not support South Africa, there were select individuals within these nations who sought to help those in South Africa due to their strong beliefs in the Declaration of Human Rights. With this in mind, there were both positive and negative aspects of the United Nations – while those who created it and held the most power abandoned their most fundamental beliefs, there were individuals within these nations who believed in the purpose and necessity of this doctrine and sought to abide by it.

That beinSeptember 11g addressed, another aspect of Part 2 of Have You Heard from Johannesburg that grabbed my attention was the discussion about Oliver Tambo being a terrorist. When I hear the word terrorist images of 9/11 and the twin towers in a cloud of fire and smoke, Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, George W. Bush, and Saddam Hussein are all images that emerge in my head.

I’m sure many Americans have similar associations with the term “terrorist” given the numerous terror attacks around the world. Because of my associations, I find it hard to believe that Oliver Tambo could be a terrorist. Rather, I see the labeling of Oliver Tambo as a terrorist as a convenient way for the United States and other nations to avoid involvement in the anti apartheid cause.  Communism was a huge threat to the United States and because South Africa sought help from theSoviet Union Map Soviet Union, the anti apartheid movement became another communist movement under control of the Soviet Union. Consequently, the leaders of the ANC were considered communists, and even in some cases terrorists. However, after listening to Oliver Tambo explain the situation in South Africa and try to express the hopes and intentions of the anti apartheid movement in working with the Soviet Union, it is challenging for me to see how he could ever be considered a threat. Realistically, I recognize that looking back on the situation gives me a unique opportunity and that the political, social, and economic environment surrounding the event might not have been as black and white.


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