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MANDELA MANIA: 100 LEADERS ATTENDING = 0,000,000 for self-serving glory and Funeral SELFIE pictures
Image by Imaginary Museum Projects: News Tableaus
MANDELA MANIA: 100 LEADERS ATTENDING = 0,000,000 for self-serving glory and Funeral SELVIE pictures
Nelson Mandela received over 260 honours and awards during his life time. There is a Wikipedia page that lists them. Only after 1983 this list shows a remarkable growth and only after 1990 some of his former opponents start to whitewash their own pro-Apartheid and/or anti-terrorist past by celebrating him instead of staying aloof. In 1965 there is only one honorary event to mention on this list, when Mandela is elected as Honorary President of the Students’ Union, University of Leeds. It takes to 1973, again University of Leeds, when a nuclear particle discovered by scientists at the University of Leeds is named "Mandela nelson." (1)
No need to give any more details here, as I was only looking for such lists to get to some statistical data of how many visits Mandela has made, how many hands he shook, how many hugs he performed in front of how many journalist cameras. Just to understand the world leader hype of yesterday, with over one hundred attending one of a series of funeral celebrations. (2)
We know from the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu the costs of such an attendance, as he said it was too costly to come (at least 1 million dollars) (3). So the most conservative estimate of the total cost of flying in all those state women and men – with their cortege – amounts easily to 100 million dollars. Just think of the President of France Hollande taking the French government airplane, mostly empty and the ex-President Sarkozy coming on a separate plane. No effort and costs have been spared here. (4)
The entry to the stadium where the funeral competition was played did look like a make over of the Red Carpet of the Film Festival of Cannes and – best of all – there were the ‘selfie’ pictures taken, not just by Obama, Cameron and the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmid, but many others as well. Sadly they have escaped the attention of journalists that may have been kept at bay, not only because of security risks, but also because of long range tele-lenses. (5) On the blog of the photo-journalist Roberto Schmidt, who took this taking of a ‘selfie’ picture, there is a detailed contextualisation of the moment…
"So here’s the photo, my photo, which quickly lit up the world’s social networks and news websites. The “selfie” of three world leaders who, during South Africa’s farewell to Nelson Mandela, were messing about like kids instead of behaving with the mournful gravitas one might expect. (…)
I guess it’s a sign of our times that somehow this image seemed to get more attention than the event itself. (…)
I took these photos totally spontaneously, without thinking about what impact they might have. At the time, I thought the world leaders were simply acting like human beings, like me and you. I doubt anyone could have remained totally stony faced for the duration of the ceremony, while tens of thousands of people were celebrating in the stadium. For me, the behaviour of these leaders in snapping a selfie seems perfectly natural. I see nothing to complain about, and probably would have done the same in their place. The AFP team worked hard to display the reaction that South African people had for the passing of someone they consider as a father. We moved about 500 pictures, trying to portray their true feelings, and this seemingly trivial image seems to have eclipsed much of this collective work.
It was interesting to see politicians in a human light because usually when we see them it is in such a controlled environment. Maybe this would not be such an issue if we, as the press, would have more access to dignitaries and be able to show they are human as the rest of us.
I confess too that it makes me a little sad we are so obsessed with day-to-day trivialities, instead of things of true importance."
That may all be true from the viewpoint of a professional in the news media, but the last words of the photographers blog "instead of things of true importance", misses the point, fails to ask the question about the ‘why’ of the presence, the representation of all those world leaders at a funeral ceremony.
Why was it that all those highly scheduled national VIPs massed together? Apart from the shared gratuity of admiration for the ‘post-aparheid peaceful imago of Nelson Mandela’, all were eager to be part of what sociologist call ‘a peer group’, an opportunity to show that they also do belong to the inner circle of globally important people, part of the power system.
"A peer group is both a social group and a primary group of people. Peer group may be defined as a group of people who, through homophily, share similarities such as age, background, and social status. The members of this group are likely to influence the person’s beliefs and behaviour. Peer groups contain hierarchies and distinct patterns of behavior."
Thus at least a 100 million dollars were wasted on this necrophiliac party with selfie-leaders trying to get some of the self-serfing glory they had previously heaped upon Mandela back and reflect it on themselves. (6)
The stadium where the funeral ceremony took place was not filled at all. Was this due to security measures for the 100 Super VIPs, or was it that the interest for Mandela in his own country is waning, that he is less divine local than international?
The booing of President Jacob Zuma, showed that since the first ANC presidency of South Africa by Mandela, many things have changed in the country and not for the betterment of the majority of the population. Witnessing that life show of political sentiments must have been an ear- and eye-opener for all those foreign guests attending, something they may try to forget as it may deflate their pompous self-importance. They all must have expected, in many distinctive ways, something different.
(1) List of awards and honours bestowed upon Nelson Mandela
(2) 9/12/2013: "Over One Hundred Heads of State Expected to Attend Mandela’s Funeral"
(3) 9/12/2013: "Israeli PM Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral, citing high travel cost"
The trip was estimated to cost roughly -million, including a charter flight for Netanyahu’s entourage and a separate Hercules transport aircraft to carry security equipment.
(4) 9/12/2013: "Hollande, Sarkozy on separate presidential jets for Mandela’s funeral"
(5) 10/12/2013: "No, Obama Didn’t Take a Selfie, Learn the English Language"
A selfie is a picture that includes the person taking the picture. Simple enough, or so it seems. But the question at hand is whether or not the photo that results from the image at right is 1) a selfie by Obama or 2) a selfie of Obama.// It’s clear that it’s a selfie of Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the woman between Obama and British prime minister David Cameron. It appears to be her phone; Obama uses a BlackBerry and the phone in the picture appears to be some sort of Android device. She’s also the one in control of the picture-taking. (A Facebook commenter suggests that Obama is "simply steadying the cameraphone.") But is it a selfie of Obama? (Or Cameron?) Where is the line between "selfie" and "photo of someone" drawn?
11/12/2013: "Newspaper review: Obama ‘selfie’ and Sir Wiggo"
It provoked a range of reaction, from mirth in the Daily Mail – which speculates that US First Lady Michelle Obama was unimpressed by the "flirty Dane" – to fury in the Sun and the Mirror.
"No selfie respect," is the headline in the former, which describes the snap as "cheesy".
Reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, Daily Telegraph media writer Neil Midgley, agreed that the image was "quite remarkable".
"It was so out of keeping with what the day was about," he said.
But Heather Walker, editor of UK-based expatriate community newspaper the South African, argued: "People expected a formal occasion but it turned out to be quite casual.
(6) This is a right wing conservative view of things on the web site of Alex Jones, who is versed also in conspirarcy theories on 9/11, landing on the Moon and so on:
10/12/2013: "Obama Mandela Speech Cost 0,000 Per Minute"
Obama’s trip is not merely ceremonial. The high profile event serves as a spectacular propaganda piece to highlight multiculturalism, the latest political control tool exploited by the establishment.
Incidentally, the ideological heirs to Mandela’s communism do not support Obama’s presence in South Africa. / A statement issued by the National Unions of Metalworkers of South Africa, the South African Communist Party, the Young Communist League of South Africa, the South African Students’ Congress, the Muslim Students’ Association, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Friends of Cuba Society, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa, and the World Federation of Trade Unions condemn the U.S. Public relations stunt.
“Our rejection is based the US’s arrogant, selfish and oppressive foreign policies, treatment of workers and international trade relations that are rooted in war-mongering, neo-liberal super-exploitation, colonial racism and the disregard and destruction of the environment, thus making the realization of a just and peaceful world impossible,” the statement declares.
Now the link given by this web site for this anti-Obama visit last summer campaign in South Africa is a Afrikaander opinion place, so I started to wonder and did do a search for the original statement in a proper context (politicsweb.co.za) I did find it at and it is worthwhile reading to get a better understanding of socio-political realities in South Africa now:
It is a dreary long statement, still for the sake of proper quoting I give the first part here and when you still have the courage to read on, at the bottom will be a direct link to the original:
Why we say NO to Obama! – NUMSA & Co. Castro Ngobese 23 June 2013 Organisations say USA under his leadership has escalated its assault on human rights Campaign to Protest USA Foreign Policy during the State Visit of President Barack Obama We as South Africans in the form of the South African Communist Party (SACP), the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL), the South African Students Congress (SASCO), the Muslim Students Association(MSA), the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union(NEHAWU), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Friend of Cuba Society (FOCUS), Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South African), and the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), declare our utmost rejection of visit of the United States of America President, Barack Obama to our country. Our rejection is based the USA’s arrogant, selfish and oppressive foreign policies, treatment of workers and international trade relations that are rooted in war mongering, neo-liberal super-exploitation, colonial racism and the disregard and destruction of the environment, thus making the realisation of a just and peaceful world impossible. The coming of President Barak Obama to South Africa is the first ever since he was elected head of state. The USA under his leadership has escalated its assault on human rights, militarisation of international relations and continuing galloping of world resources at the absolute expense of the environment and oppressed peoples of the world. The USA is deeply implicated in the oppression of the people of Western Sahara, the only remaining colonised country on the African continent, colonised by Morocco. And to this day, the release of the Cuban Five and a continuing baseless embargo against the country and peoples of Cuba still seems unmovable issues of commitment for the USA. The call for the release of the Cuban Five has been an important international campaign supported even by Nobel Prize winners who released a document calling on their freedom; Zhores Alferov (Nobel Prize for Physics, 2000), Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize, 1984), Nadine Gordimer (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1991), Rigoberta Menchú (Nobel Peace Prize, 1992), Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (Nobel Peace Prize, 1980), Wole Soyinka (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1986), José Saramago (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1996), Günter Grass (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1999). The criminal occupation of Palestine by the Apartheid State of Israel, as a well-known fact in our country, has only been made possible by the USA’s financial and political support for the Racist Israeli regime."