It is absolutely regrettable that there is black violence against African migrants in South Africa but that is something the African determination to survive can and should be able to manage quickly. Part of that cannot do without what Charlotte Epstein, the University of Sydney International Relations academic, has aptly captured as ‘the Power of words in International Relations’, the title of her 2008 book, one of the most solid studies of how words create reality, this time in the case of international politics of whaling. International politics of whaling would certainly be a very distant subject matter in African international relations but not the claim that discourse is constitutive of power.
Here, we are interested in how Nelson demonstrated that intellectual claim in what another scholar who shall remain nameless but who actually sent this video and with it the contention that ” it is the height of arrogance to believe that those who worked to subvert the anti-apartheid struggles should be rewarded by Mandela and the ANC”.
That is his own endorsement of about the only time that mature Mandela would end up paralysing his interrogator in a way that he himself could not help but recognise it as such, making a six- year old video on YouTube which has been watched by over a million becomes important to us because it sends a message that cannot become dated.
Imperialism, hegemony, domination and related concepts are what we all toss about and the prescriptions they imply – radical activism, struggle against imperialism, national liberation parties. Great strategies and tactics all, no doubt.
The representational practice in the struggle for power, particularly in the devastating manner that a Mandela deploys it here is rarely a comprehensive part of the brochure. Nor the training in how Mandela decides what he accepts and how rather than the cheaper question of why he accepts such; what he dismisses and the contextual ground for that and then the analytical verve. In all, he turns up a proof for the claim that ‘discourse is the power to be seized”. Doing so is beyond rhetorical flourish or propaganda because it is not all eloquent nonsense that become dominant and commonsensical as to direct action. That is what connects literature, music, films, the media and popular culture generally to power, not objectivity or subjectivity.
Now, over to the video: