WESPAC joins the whole world in mourning the loss of the great Nelson Mandela. Our sadness is balanced by the memory of our jubilation when, while in prison, he negotiated the end of apartheid, when he was then released from prison after 27 years of hard labor, and when he became the first president of a free South Africa.

WESPAC was deeply involved in the movement to defeat apartheid, particularly in the divestment movement in the 1980s. Our organization, then led by our founder Connie Hogarth, organized and were arrested at frequent civil disobedience actions at major banking institutions. We protested the suppression by the South African armed forces of the liberation movements in Angola, Mozambique and Namibia. We actively opposed – especially in the Reagan years – our government’s support for apartheid and its condemnation of Mandela as a terrorist.

 Let the shining memory of Nelson Mandela propel us to follow his example of steadfast struggle, humility and principled leadership. Let us emulate him in cultivating alliances and finding common cause with those who are not our traditional allies. Remembering Mandela’s words that “hate clouds the mind,” and Che Guevara’s counsel that “a true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love,” let us enter the New Year with love for each other, for our precious planet, and for our country, rededicating ourselves to the struggle for peace and justice. Amandla!