HomeLifestylesSociety & FolkNdileka Mandela: I Support Harry and Meghan Despite Being Misquoted

Ndileka Mandela: I Support Harry and Meghan Despite Being Misquoted

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In these difficult times, amidst the scourges of racism, gender-based violence, poverty, and authoritarianism, my grandfather Nelson Mandela’s legacy is more important than ever.

His unbreakable spirit endured incredible oppression—a spirit that can inspire and nourish us today. He demonstrated how an unwavering commitment to love, forgiveness, and reconciliation can tip the scales in our favour.

That is why it bothers me so much when my grandfather’s name is misused. One of the most traumatic such incidents occurred in South Africa shortly after Nelson Mandela’s death. During his funeral, various officials misappropriated millions of dollars intended for development, including pocketing funds. Some of the funds were even used to purchase promotional t-shirts.

This sort of thing is still going on today. In my country, we still have club parties on Nelson Mandela International Day, with flyers featuring my grandfather’s face to attract people. People sell t-shirts with my grandfather’s face on them all over the world. However, the proceeds from these activities are rarely used to support my grandfather’s legacy or the causes he championed.

This commercial exploitation of my grandfather’s legacy for selfish gain is something I strongly oppose. And it was about this that I recently spoke. Regrettably, recent international headlines misquoted my words, claiming I had criticised Harry and Meghan for profiting from my grandfather’s name.

However, these headlines were exactly what I had criticised. They used my and my grandfather’s names to falsely attack a public figure and a woman of colour who married into the British royal family. This, in my opinion, amounts to gender-based violence on a global scale.

The simple truth is that I admire Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for their determination to engage in social activism. Their work today echoes my grandfather’s concern for justice and freedom for all.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 6, 2022. (Image by: Mike Coppola / Getty Images For 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple Of Hope Gala)

However, my expressed concerns about the exploitation of my grandfather’s legacy were misconstrued and used to fuel an ongoing backlash against Meghan Markle.

The fact that this could happen at all demonstrates how global power imbalances in politics, economics, and culture continue to define our societies.

When I consider the unequal global system, the seemingly inexplicable but relentless onslaught against Meghan begins to make sense to me.

While apartheid-era legal structures are no longer in place, the post-colonial legal order continues to systematically marginalise the Global South in favour of the most powerful countries and corporations. Women and people of colour bear the brunt of this.

Ndileka Mandela (L), Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, arrives for the funeral ceremony of South African former President Nelson Mandela in Qunu on December 15, 2013. (Image by: Ibongile Ngalwa / AFP via Getty Images)

There are numerous examples. With 101 predominantly British corporations controlling an estimated $1 trillion in African mineral resources, more wealth is being transferred from Africa to the West than is being invested in the continent. This “new colonialism” is a form of exploitation carried out through corporate power, lawsuits, and courtrooms rather than gunboats.

Giant corporations have used strategic lawsuits in recent years to gain control of indigenous resources and to intimidate human rights defenders who speak out against corporate abuses.

Recently, European courts awarded billions of dollars in Malaysian government oil and gas reserves to the disputed heirs of the long-ago Sultanate of Sulu, which had all but vanished by the early twentieth century—all on the basis of a colonial-era treaty agreed with a British trading company. The lawsuit has been supported by Therium, a global litigation and arbitration finance firm based in the United Kingdom, which may benefit from any victories.

These high-profile cases, in my opinion, are just the tip of the iceberg. Over the last five years, 355 lawsuits have been filed by corporations in the mining, agribusiness, logging, and palm oil sectors. They are intended to “bankrupt and silence” social activists, primarily in the Global South, according to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

Queen Elizabeth II (left) and Nelson Mandela (right) attend a Rhodes Trust centenary celebration at Buckingham Palace in London on October 20, 2003. Ndileka Mandela, Mandela’s granddaughter, writes that her grandfather supported the queen but would assist them in speaking out against the royal family. (Image by: Kirsty Wigglesworth / AFP via Getty Images)

The pattern is the same: powerful vested interests in the United States, Europe, and Britain, who are protected by their own legal systems, undermine the sovereignty of developing nations and indigenous peoples.

And the British Crown is no exception to the unequal way the “rule of law” is applied.

While the late Queen Elizabeth was a staunch supporter of my grandfather, the post-colonial British Crown remains the world’s largest private landowner. According to some scholars, the Crown is one of the world’s most powerful transnational corporations. If this is true, one could argue that they are deeply involved in the racialized wealth disparities that impoverish the Global South.

Yet, for much of the English-language press, such realities are incomprehensible.

Harry and Meghan are breaking the silence in the royal family by speaking out about their experiences. They are shedding light on how colonialism, slavery, and apartheid are not just historical relics, but continue to define many of the systemic injustices that define how the world works today through the racialized and genderized disparities that are their legacy.

Indeed, I believe that if my grandfather were still alive, he would be fighting. That is why I am pleased that Harry and Meghan are still inspired by his legacy.

Ndileka Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, is a writer and social activist.

All opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

Info sources – Newsweek

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