Open Source Ecology.
Great Idea. BASICS.
Make the design documents and processes for building the machines of a civilization completely open source, nothing patented, nothing privately owned.
ANNUAL REPORT VIDEO
Open Source Ecology.
Great Idea. BASICS.
Make the design documents and processes for building the machines of a civilization completely open source, nothing patented, nothing privately owned.
ANNUAL REPORT VIDEO
Abstract artist. American.
|Bandit 4″x4″ acrylic on canvas by Ryan Hale|
Ryan Hale finds small paintings challenging in a different way. Since he is an abstract artist, he likes to work freely and intuitively.
Ryan likes to interpret patterns of aerial views of landscapes. He’s fascinated by how land is divided, especially when seen from above, where civilization and nature both co-exist and collide. You can appreciate his intentions in these larger paintings entitled “Daily Intervals,” which measures 60”X72”, and “The Forming Earth,” which is 36”X36.”
So, when it came time to do some 12”X12” paintings, Ryan decided to work on several at once, so they would be related and could be hung together in different orientations. While he was painting them, he would move them around. “It’s a challenge, like creating a puzzle,” he said. “I takes a lot of thought to get a strong enough image on a small canvas.” WILDE MEYER GALLERY.
|Structure IV 12″x12″ acrylic on canvas by Ryan Hale|
I think these two small paintings, entitled “Structure III” and “Structure IV” are very successful. They reflect Ryan’s considered style and thoughtful color selections, and work well as a single unit or together. He also included a figurative painting, “Bandit,” which probably comes from another part of his creative brain!
|Structure III 12″x12″ acrylic on canvas by Ryan Hale|
This is a tale of three money pits. It’s also a tale of monetary regress — of the strange determination of many people to turn the clock back on centuries of progress.
The first money pit is an actual pit — the Porgera open-pit gold mine in Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s top producers. The mine has a terrible reputation for both human rights abuses (rapes, beatings and killings by security personnel) and environmental damage (vast quantities of potentially toxic tailings dumped into a nearby river). But gold prices, while down from their recent peak, are still three times what they were a decade ago, so dig they must.
The second money pit is a lot stranger: the Bitcoin mine in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland. Bitcoin is a digital currency that has value because … well, it’s hard to say exactly why, but for the time being at least people are willing to buy it because they believe other people will be willing to buy it. It is, by design, a kind of virtual gold. And like gold, it can be mined: you can create new bitcoins, but only by solving very complex mathematical problems that require both a lot of computing power and a lot of electricity to run the computers.
Hence the location in Iceland, which has cheap electricity from hydropower and an abundance of cold air to cool those furiously churning machines. Even so, a lot of real resources are being used to create virtual objects with no clear use.
The third money pit is hypothetical. Back in 1936 the economist John Maynard Keynes argued that increased government spending was needed to restore full employment. But then, as now, there was strong political resistance to any such proposal. So Keynes whimsically suggested an alternative: have the government bury bottles full of cash in disused coal mines, and let the private sector spend its own money to dig the cash back up. It would be better, he agreed, to have the government build roads, ports and other useful things — but even perfectly useless spending would give the economy a much-needed boost.
Clever stuff — but Keynes wasn’t finished. He went on to point out that the real-life activity of gold mining was a lot like his thought experiment. Gold miners were, after all, going to great lengths to dig cash out of the ground, even though unlimited amounts of cash could be created at essentially no cost with the printing press. And no sooner was gold dug up than much of it was buried again, in places like the gold vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where hundreds of thousands of gold bars sit, doing nothing in particular.
Keynes would, I think, have been sardonically amused to learn how little has changed in the past three generations. Public spending to fight unemployment is still anathema; miners are still spoiling the landscape to add to idle hoards of gold. (Keynes dubbed the gold standard a “barbarous relic.”) Bitcoin just adds to the joke. Gold, after all, has at least some real uses, e.g., to fill cavities; but now we’re burning up resources to create “virtual gold” that consists of nothing but strings of digits.
I suspect, however, that Adam Smith would have been dismayed.
Smith is often treated as a conservative patron saint, and he did indeed make the original case for free markets. It’s less often mentioned, however, that he also argued strongly for bank regulation — and that he offered a classic paean to the virtues of paper currency. Money, he understood, was a way to facilitate commerce, not a source of national prosperity — and paper money, he argued, allowed commerce to proceed without tying up much of a nation’s wealth in a “dead stock” of silver and gold.
So why are we tearing up the highlands of Papua New Guinea to add to our dead stock of gold and, even more bizarrely, running powerful computers 24/7 to add to a dead stock of digits?
Talk to gold bugs and they’ll tell you that paper money comes from governments, which can’t be trusted not to debase their currencies. The odd thing, however, is that for all the talk of currency debasement, such debasement is getting very hard to find. It’s not just that after years of dire warnings about runaway inflation, inflation in advanced countries is clearly too low, not too high. Even if you take a global perspective, episodes of really high inflation have become rare. Still, hyperinflation hype springs eternal.
Bitcoin seems to derive its appeal from more or less the same sources, plus the added sense that it’s high-tech and algorithmic, so it must be the wave of the future.
But don’t let the fancy trappings fool you: What’s really happening is a determined march to the days when money meant stuff you could jingle in your purse. In tropics and tundra alike, we are for some reason digging our way back to the 17th century.
Letter to Western Mariner
I write this in response to the article Tanker Routes & Terminals: the Kitimat-Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Proposal in the April 2012 issue of Western Mariner. I am drawing on my background in the marine industry, first as a professional Master Mariner with world-wide seagoing experience (including ocean salvage tugs) and my experience ashore in ship management. I have reviewed the Marine Shipping Quantitative Risk Analysis produced for Enbridge by Det Norsk Veritas. There are many concerns with the proposal’s marine components which I will outline below.
I have no negative opinion about the transportation of petroleum products by pipeline.
Many thousands of miles of pipeline around the world have, in general, proven it to be the safest method per ton/mile available. However, the transport of oil by tanker has not been as safe a method. When problems occur with tankers they can result in large, often catastrophic, releases of oil into the marine environment and onto coastlines.
The Enbridge tanker transport proposal, in its current form, represents too great a risk to a remote and still pristine area of BC’s Central Coast, a region of this coast that is exposed to the most severe winter weather conditions.
Enbridge proposes a high level of tanker traffic through the approximately 140 nm (nautical miles) of confined channels between the open ocean and Kitimat, the location of the pipeline’s terminal.
(Page 2 of 2)
Kitimat is a poor choice for a major new Gateway port for the shipment of crude oil. The questions about tanker transits in confined waters and in severe West Coast winter weather conditions are too many and the risks to the marine environment too great.
Capt. Mal Walsh Comox, BC
Verbatim from VO. Originally appeared as a letter in Western Mariner, which is not searchable. http://www.westernmariner.com/index.html
[VO Editor’s Note: Captain Mal Walsh is a Master Mariner from Comox, BC. He has over 40 years of experience in the international oil exploration and shipping industry—both commanding vessels on the seas and working ashore in management. He served on deep-sea ships in the British Merchant Navy before working in the offshore oil industry in the North Sea. When he came to Canada, he worked for Dome Petroleum during their exploration in the Beaufort Sea then came ashore and became General Manager of Marine and Environmental Services with Canadian Marine Drilling (CANMAR).
The ostensible purpose of the Northern Gateway Pipeline is to ship Alberta’s very heavy crude to Chinese markets, diluted with condensate which will be shipped via a twin pipeline from China to Alberta through Kitimat, British Columbia.
This is a complex project, made more complex in that Kitimat is seen to also be the main port for LNG developments.
The purpose of this Post is to provide a “Reading List” for discussions on how to slow-down or stop this project. There are a number of unofficial experts at work debunking the Federal view that this project is in any way good for Canada or the world. Facebook works well for uniting people in a discussion, but it lack facilities to provide a common base of information. All in one big Post for the moment, but I guess I will eventually split it up.
Kitimat is roughly 100 nautical miles (190 km) in from Hecate Strait. Hecate Strait itself is a body of water 48-140 km wide, underlain by a shallow basin (less than 45 m at the north end) separating HAIDA GWAII from mainland British Columbia. Marine weather conditions are severe: winter storms originating in the Gulf of Alaska bring high waves through the strait and winds persistently higher than 40 km/h off the south end of Moresby Island. The open strait and numerous sheltered inlets are rich in marine life.
Here’s what maps show between the open sea and Kitimat.
To date, the best analysis of tanker traffic to and from Kitimat is here. This animation-video shows the impact of dilbit tankers, condensate tankers and LNG tankers going up and down this narrow passage.
Another good summary of navigation in the area is on Tidal
For a summary that confirms much of the above, from a master mariner, see: https://dglikes.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/ngp-master-mariner-capt-mal-walshs-letter/
Allen Tsai has put together some interesting observations on the Solstice patterns.
Then they found the length of a year is around 365.25 days.
|The Ecliptic is the Sun’s apparent path around the Earth. It’s tilted relative to the Earth’s equator. The value of obliquity of the Ecliptic is around 23 26′ 19” in year 2000.|
By rotating the Sun chart and positioning the Winter Solstice at the bottom, it will look like this . The light color area which indicates more sunlight is called Yang (Sun). And then interpretations began. The dark color area has less sunlight (more moonlight) and is called Yin (Moon). Yang is like man. Yin is like woman. Yang wouldn’t grow without Yin. Yin couldn’t give birth without Yang. Yin is born (begins) at Summer Solstice and Yang is born (begins) at Winter Solstice. Therefore one little circle Yin is marked on the Summer Solstice position. Another little circle Yang is marked on the Winter Solstice position. These two little circles look like two fish eyes.
How far back these early observations go is unknown. Many summaries of Yin and Yang ignore this early source in astronomy observations.
But here we are: late December, 2013. (son). Yang Chi begins to grow inside the ground. The seed begins to absorb water and grow too.
This year saw the price of photovoltaic cells for solar panels continue its dramatic slide downward, reaching $0.74 per watt. That’s a 99 percent drop over the last 25 years, bringing solar to near-parity with the rest of the grid. Decades of support from state and federal governments around the world in the form of R&D, purchases, renewable energy standards, and subsidies played a large role in making such a significant drop possible. The level solar PV power in Germany has been increasing exponentially for the last 20 years, with a doubling time of 1.56 years.
Sources are: www.bnef.com
IS IT IMPROVING?
Barrick Gold – A Contrarian Play Based On Improved Capital Allocation
Disclosure: I am long ABX. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
After gold’s stellar performance from 2000-2010, television commercials seemed saturated with a great deal of snake oil salesmen, pitching gold coins with outrageous commission structures to market participants concerned about the strength of conventional global currencies. Despite the metals ascension, gold mining stocks have been abysmal performers, as cost inflation and poorly conceived capital projects have produced terrible returns on invested capital. Barrick Gold (ABX) is an example of a company that in the past hasn’t focused on maximizing per share value, but instead has been more interested in building the world’s largest gold mining company via acquisitions and massive capital expenditure investments. It is my belief that the recent decline in oil prices and in the stock of Barrick Gold, has finally brought about changes, which should make for a more attractive future for the company’s shareholders. Management is now concentrating on right-sizing the balance sheet and focusing on the highest returning projects, which should unveil the fact that the sum of the parts is greater than the market price being given to the whole company right now. Value investing is about buying businesses such as Barrick when they are priced with extreme pessimism and selling them when the outlook is more optimistic.
Barrick has built a powerful and diverse collection of mining assets that have considerable upside potential, but that also require heavy investment, which only makes sense in an extremely accommodative pricing environment. In broad terms, North America represents that more conservative region of Barrick’s mines, with strong returns and drastically less political uncertainty. This region was bolstered by the addition of Pueblo Viejo in 2012. South America is the company’s highest risk and most capital intensive development region, but that could also offer the highest long-term returns. The major $10 billion project in South America, which has been the source of extreme angst for shareholders, is the Pascua-Lama mine on the border between Chile and Argentina. Pascua-Lama was expected to average 825,000 ounces in the first five years and because of ample silver credits, the cash costs were anticipated to be quite low, but this project has now been curtailed due to the volatile declines in gold prices over the last year, which has put further pressure on the CAPEX budget. The controversial decision to temporarily shutter the mine could lead to political backlash, but hopefully for Barrick shareholders, when prices recover, the mine could still potentially yield solid long-term profitability.
The Australia/Pacific and African regions are home to most of Barrick’s non-core assets in my opinion, due to their higher costs and risks, so if further divestitures are needed in the next couple of years, I would expect them to come from those assets. Barrick intelligently offered 26% of Africa Barrick Gold to the public in 2010, but the company paid way too much to acquire Equinox and its disappointing mines in Zambia and Saudi Arabia. It is telling that this $7.66 billion acquisition of non-core assets, now represents nearly 40% of the current market capitalization of the company, despite contributing a great deal less than that in the value and earnings of the company. This type of poor capital allocation decision at nearly peak commodity prices destroyed incredible shareholder value both by paying too rich of a price, and through necessitating an equity issuance at an extremely unfavorable time, which diluted shareholders.
On September 30th, Barrick had cash and equivalents of $2.3 billion and $4.0 billion available under its credit facility. The company generated operating cash flow of $3.22 billion in the first nine months of 2014. ABX had approximately $1.3 billion of cumulative debt maturing by the end of 2015. On November 14th, Barrick announced that it had completed its previously announced equity offering of 163.5MM common shares at a price of $18.35 for net proceeds of approximately $2.9 billion, meaning that the company now has approximately 1.16 billion shares outstanding. The company is using $2.6 billion of the net proceeds to redeem or repurchase outstanding debt, primarily short and medium-term debt. Specifically, Barrick is using $1.1 billion to redeem the outstanding $700MM aggregate principal amount of 1.75% notes due 2014, together with the $350MM aggregate principal amount of 4.875% notes due 2014. Barrick is also using approximately $1.5 billion of the net proceeds to purchase other notes pursuant to its tender offer, which was announced 10/31/2013. This reduces net debt by 21% and eliminated $2.5 billion of debt repayments over the next 5 years.
On October 31st, Barrick Gold reported 3rd quarter financial results. The company had gold production of 1.85 million ounces at all-in sustaining costs (AISC) of $916 per ounce. Copper production was 139 million pounds at C3 fully allocated costs of $2.15 per pound. Adjusted net earnings were $.58 billion ($.58 per share), down from $.88 billion ($.88 per share) and adjusted operating cash flow was $1.3 billion, down from $1.4 billion YoY. Net earnings were $.17 billion ($.17 per share), which were down from $.65 billion ($.65 per share) in the year ago period. Realized gold and copper prices for the quarter were $1,323 per ounce and $3.40 per pound, respectively, compared to the spot averages of $1,326 per ounce and $3.21 per pound.
Management made the decision to suspend construction at the Pascua-Lama project, which will further reduce 2014 capital costs by up to $1.0 billion. In addition, the company is flattening its operating model to save an additional $500MM per year. This will include a reduction in headcount, reduced procurement costs and other initiatives. Also, African Barrick Gold (GM:ABGLF) has targeted annual savings of $185MM. ABX made the decision to sell Barrick Energy for total consideration of $435MM, including cash of $387MM and a future royalty valued at $48MM. The company also sold Yilgarn South assets to Gold Fields Limited for $266MM, consisting of $135MM in cash and $131MM in Gold Fields Limited Shares.
Barrick expects that for the full year and adjusted for the sale of the Yilgarn South mines, full year gold production is now expected to be at the low end of the original 7.0-7.4 million ounce guidance range. All-in sustaining costs are expected to be within the range of $900-$975 per ounce and the company has lowered the top end of its adjusted cost guidance to $575-$600 per ounce. Barrick increased its full year company-wide copper production guidance to 520-550 million pounds. Full year C1 cash cost and C3 fully allocated cost guidance has been reduced to $1.90-$2.00 per pound and $2.40-$2.60 per pound, respectively.
For the first nine months of 2013, Barrick has reported a loss of $7.5 billion compared to net earnings of $2.5 billion in the first nine months of 2012. The decline reflects the impact of $8.7 billion in impairment charges (net of tax and non-controlling interest effects), lower realized gold and copper prices, higher interest expense and higher income tax expense for Pueblo Viejo, primarily due to the recognition of an increase in the deferred tax liability, which will be drawn down over the life of the mine, as well as an acceleration of current taxes payable for 2012 and 2013 related to the substantive enactment of the revised SLA, partially offset by higher gold and copper sales volumes. Adjusted net earnings for the nine month period of 2013 were $2.2 billion compared to adjusted net earnings of $2.8 billion recorded in the nine month period of 2012. EPS and adjusted EPS for the first nine months of 2013 were ($7.53) and $2.16, respectively. Operating cash flow was $3.223 billion, down from $4.138 billion during the first nine months of 2012.
While Barrick has been battered over the last year due to some poor decisions, there is still tremendous value in the company’s portfolio of assets. For example, 55%+ of 2013 production came from 5 large mines at all-in sustainable costs of around $700/oz. These 5 mines had 58.2 million ounces in reserve as of December 31, 2012. Pueblo Viejo is one of the growth mines, which should reach full capacity in the first half of 2014 with AISC of $700-$750/oz. Costs will come down materially, allowing the company to significantly close the cash flow gap that has concerned investors. With the stock price so cheap, I’d expect to see further dispositions, which should highlight the higher value of the sum of the parts, despite a weak pricing environment.
At a recent price of $16.86, ABX trades at around 8 times forward earnings and 3.5 times forward cash flow. The cash flow multiple is more than 50% cheaper than historical averages and while earnings might be revised lower, Barrick is still far cheaper than it has been in years. The company has tremendous low-cost assets, which should generate reasonable cash flows. Costs and capital expenditures will go down dramatically, reducing the need for the company to access the capital markets moving forward. It is extremely difficult to predict gold prices or value this business with anything close to an approximate number, but when you look at the assets, it is tough to imagine losing money over the long-term. To make the investment even safer, one might look to sell long-term put options. The $15 January 2016 put options are going for around $280 per contract right now, which would mean that assuming the stock closes above $15 at expiration, the investor would earn 23%, or 11% annualized on the maximum risk of $1,220 per contract. The breakeven price is $12.20 per share, so the stock would have to drop 36% by expiration for you to be in a losing situation upon being exercised. If the stock appreciates significantly prior to expiration, it is very likely that the puts could be bought back at much higher than targeted annualized rates of return.
This was an enormously talented and wise man who accomplished an almost impossible task with courage, dignity, charm and an unbelievable lack of bitterness or hatred.
1. Richard’s View
2. Stephen Lewis Remembers Mandela And Graca.
I never really knew Nelson Mandela in his illustrious political role. I had certainly dealt with him on some important children’s issues when I was working with UNICEF, but my knowledge of Madiba, as he was known to everyone, emerged in a much more personal way.
I had the enormous privilege, back in the 1990s, of co-ordinating a study on the consequences of armed conflict on children. The expert for the study, appointed by the United Nations, was Graça Machel, a former first lady of Mozambique.
We became fast friends, and remain close friends to this day.
During the course of the study, the courtship began between Graça and Madiba . . . a touching, sublimely lovely courtship to which, on occasion, I was privy (dare I say it: they giggled on the phone like teenagers). On Madiba’s 80th birthday they were married. More relevant, for the purpose of this brief essay, was the extraordinary opportunity the friendship with Graça gave me to see Madiba up close.
On almost every visit I made to Johannesburg between 2000 and 2009 (Mandela began to decline physically in 2009 and was rarely available thereafter), I dropped by the Mandela household for lunch or dinner. Usually it was just the three of us; Graça would ladle food onto Mandela’s plate, make sure he had water to drink, and we would while away the time with friendly chit-chat.
The depth of the bond between them was immediately evident. If Graça left the room for any reason, Madiba’s shoulders would physically sag, his features would pale, and with great anxiety he would ask where she’d gone and when would she come back. When she did return, even after a few minutes, his whole being would come alive with confidence and affection. It was an instantaneous and amazing transformation. I often thought to myself that because of the famously fraught relationship with Winnie Mandela, the world never got to understand the depth of the love that Graça and Madiba shared.
What did we talk about? Almost always about Canada (as opposed, for example, to HIV/AIDS or the UN). He wanted to know everything about Canada, especially the political currents of the moment.
And therein lie my most vivid memories. For Mandela, Canada was the indispensable key to his freedom. And in his eyes, the man who turned the key was Brian Mulroney.
He was deeply taken with Mulroney; almost to the point of an endearing obsession. He knew that Mulroney hated apartheid, and was determined to see its overthrow. He knew that Mulroney, almost alone in the Commonwealth, had battled ferociously with Margaret Thatcher over his – Mandela’s – freedom. He knew that Mulroney had spoken eloquently at the United Nations, endorsing sanctions and even threatening to sever diplomatic relations if South Africa did not abandon apartheid, and had further used the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons (Canada was represented by the wonderful Anglican Archbishop Ted Scott) to apply tremendous pressure on South African president F.W. de Klerk for his release.
His regard for Mulroney, and thus for Canada, was truly genuine and intense. I remember his saying at one point early in our conversations: “Tell me, young man, how is my friend Brian? He’s been very good to me. Yes, Canada’s been very good to me.” It explains, I think, not only his constant curiosity about our politics and culture, but also his eager embrace of visiting Canada not long after imprisonment was left behind.
I should add that Mandela was invariably circumspect: he rarely discussed or passed judgment on international issues, with one exception. He clearly hated the Iraq war. He could never resist calling Tony Blair the “foreign minister of the United States.”
It’s true what they say of Mandela. In all of our various conversations, there was never a word of acrimony, of rancour. I’d be ready to rhetorically kill all and any of his detractors, past and present, and he’d smile indulgently, treating me, in the gentlest of ways, as a disgruntled adolescent. I could never get over the kindness, the decency, the generosity with which he viewed the world. All the world.
In my mind, I’ll always have the picture of Nelson Mandela strolling slowly through his garden at his home in Johannesburg, making his way into the living room, sitting down in the large armchair, and reading every single paper he could get his hands on, English and Afrikaans. Then would begin the procession: the never-ending flow of well-wishers and friends. There would be school-kids and potentates, soccer teams and movie stars, political allies from the trenches of yore, and clerics and parishioners who wanted only the touch of his hand.
Mandela would greet them all with an unselfconscious grace, immense warmth and irrepressible twinkle. He loved company. He loved to josh and tease. And even though his eyes, like his lungs, had been severely damaged by incarceration, he was always willing to take pictures, so long as the camera had no flash.
And then, when the visits were over, and inspiration dispensed, Graça would enter, and hand-in-hand they’d climb the staircase to seclusion, together.
Stephen Lewis, a former leader of the Opposition at Queen’s Park, served as Canada’s UN ambassador, 1984-88; deputy director of UNICEF, 1995-1999; and UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, 2001-2006. He is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University in Toronto.
3. NEW YORKER
Mandela’s political evolution was gradual. At the University College of Fort Hare, his goal was to become “an interpreter or a clerk in the Native Affairs Department.” He was a country boy, a clotheshorse, a Xhosa chauvinist. He was also a natural leader and, while at Fort Hare, he made friends who would become lifelong political comrades, among them Oliver Tambo. Mandela was expelled from Fort Hare in a dispute over student rights, then fled the Transkei to escape an arranged marriage. He arrived in Johannesburg in 1941, worked as a night watchman on a mine, and then met Walter Sisulu, a political activist, who helped him get a job as an articled clerk at a law firm. He began to study law. Slowly, he was drawn into politics.
I cannot pinpoint a moment when I became politicized, when I knew that I would spend my life in the liberation struggle. To be an African in South Africa means that one is politicized from the moment of one’s birth, whether one acknowledges it or not.
Mandela became conscious of “an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people.” White-minority rule in South Africa did resemble, for its black majority, an open-air prison. Dispossessed, restricted in their movements, blacks toiled, voteless, at the bottom of a pitiless economic and political structure.
One of the few channels available for mass resistance was the boycott. In 1943, Mandela marched in an enormous bus boycott that succeeded in reversing a fare increase. Soon afterward, he joined the African National Congress. The A.N.C. had been campaigning for equal rights, to little effect, since 1912. Determined to inject new zeal into the old organization, Mandela, along with Sisulu, Tambo, and others, founded the A.N.C. Youth League. The Youth League tried, unsuccessfully, to expel Communists, whose intentions they suspected, from the A.N.C. The young men also mistrusted the propensity of their radical white, Indian, and mixed-race comrades to monopolize discussions and thus replicate the prevailing social order.
Mandela became a lawyer in 1952. He and Tambo opened the country’s first African law firm. The political landscape had become dramatically harsher, though, after Afrikaner nationalists, propounding a fiercely racist program that they called apartheid, won a whites-only national election in 1948. The dispossession of black South Africans accelerated. The Communist Party was outlawed. The state took over the education of blacks, with malign intent and ruinous consequences. Resistance leaders, including Mandela, were “banned”—a peculiarly South African punishment under which a person could not be quoted, speak publicly, write, travel, or associate with more than one person at a time.
In 1956, Mandela, along with a hundred and fifty-five other dissidents, was charged with treason. Their trial lasted more than four years. Although it ended with acquittals, Mandela had grown disenchanted with the law.
I went from having an idealistic view of the law as a sword of justice to a perception of the law as a tool used by the ruling class to shape society in a way favorable to itself. I never expected justice in court, however much I fought for it, and though I sometimes received it.
The A.N.C. was outlawed in 1960. Mandela’s first marriage and his law practice had already fallen victim to the rigors of his political involvement. Now he, along with many others, was driven underground or into exile. In 1961, the A.N.C. launched an armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). Mandela, convinced that there was no peaceful alternative, became its first commander. He travelled through Africa and Europe, seeking support. He underwent military training in Ethiopia, and then returned, in secret, to South Africa, where he was captured on August 5, 1962.
Mandela, Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, and six others were charged with sabotage, a crime that carried the death penalty. They announced beforehand that they would not appeal a death sentence. Mandela gave a four-hour speech from the dock, tracing his own evolution from tribalism to African nationalism to a belief in nonracial democracy. He admitted to being the commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe but denied that he was a Communist. He praised “the ideal of a democratic and free society” and concluded, “It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” He and his main co-defendants were given life sentences.
Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison, including eighteen years on Robben Island, an infamous penitentiary near Cape Town. He was forced to work for years in a lime quarry without sunglasses, which permanently damaged his eyesight. He later contracted tuberculosis from a damp cell. For companionship, he had most of the A.N.C.’s senior leadership, including Sisulu and Mbeki. An influx of new political prisoners arrived after the uprisings of 1976. Most of them had grown up with little knowledge of Mandela or the A.N.C., whose words, ideas, and even images were banned in South Africa. Robben Island became known as Nelson Mandela University. The confluence of activists of different generations, and the lively debates between them, created new alliances and, with the eventual release of some of the younger leaders, reinvigorated A.N.C. networks. In 1985, the regime offered to release Mandela if he would renounce violence as a political instrument. He replied that it was the government that needed to renounce violence, and he declined the offer, issuing a statement through his daughter Zindzi, saying, “Only free men can negotiate. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts.”
The pressures on Pretoria, both internal and external, grew. Black communities were in full revolt from the mid-eighties onward. A financial crisis began when international banks, after a cold reassessment of the country’s stability, refused to roll over major loans to South Africa. The anti-apartheid movement gained traction globally. Economic sanctions and the divestment campaign, although opposed by conservative Western leaders, including Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who continued to call the A.N.C. a “terrorist organization,” began to take their toll. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its client tyrannies in Eastern Europe stripped the apartheid state’s self-proclaimed anti-Communisist stance—its main claim to Cold War legitimacy—of any last shreds of credibility. Mandela was released near Cape Town on February 11, 1990, to worldwide acclaim.
It took four years of tumultuous, bitter negotiations to produce the country’s first democratic election. Amid continuing violence, Mandela had to keep a fractious, diverse coalition together while horse-trading with his Afrikaner adversaries over the terms of the historic transition. He travelled the globe, enlisting support, drawing vast crowds—he received a ticker-tape parade up lower Broadway—and personally thanking those who had supported the A.N.C., including Fidel Castro and Muammar Qaddafi, whom he considered, to the horror of many well-wishers, true comrades. In 1993, he won the Nobel Peace Prize, together with F. W. de Klerk, the State President of South Africa and his negotiating counterpart, though no love was lost between the two men. Mandela had worried, while in prison, that he would become a “political fossil” after being out of circulation for so long. And he was, in fact, like a leader from another era, the pre-television era, with his courtliness, his seriousness, his indifference to the camera. Yet he seemed altogether up on current events and left few audiences unwowed.
He became South Africa’s first democratically elected President on April 27, 1994. De Klerk, by agreement, became one of two Deputy Presidents, and Mandela went out of his way to reassure businesses and white citizens generally that they were welcome in the new South Africa. Ambitious programs to combat poverty, illiteracy, and inequality were launched. Long-cherished A.N.C. plans to nationalize banking, mining, and other industries were shelved. Mandela established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which gave victims of apartheid violence the chance to tell their stories and offered amnesty to those who testified about their crimes, and chose Archbishop Desmond Tutu to lead it. Its two years of public hearings produced tales even more horrifying than many South Africans had expected. Some victims and grieving families were bitter about the amnesties granted to killers and torturers. De Klerk sued, successfully, to have the commission’s findings about his personal responsibility redacted. The A.N.C., over Mandela’s objections, also tried, without success, to have testimony about abuses in its external training camps suppressed.
While the A.N.C. dominated politics and government under the new dispensation, the opposition parties and the press remained sharp critics. In 1999, Mandela expressed his exasperation to Anthony Sampson, his authorized biographer. “He attacked the ‘Mickey Mouse’ white parties,” Sampson wrote, “to which Tony Leon of the Democratic Party replied that Mandela was ‘running a Goofy government.’ (Some weeks later, Mandela was visiting a hospital where Leon was recovering from an operation, and called out from behind the curtains: ‘Mickey Mouse, this is Goofy!’)”
Mandela’s long marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, which had produced two daughters before his imprisonment, and had helped him endure the decades in jail, ended in divorce in 1996. Winnie, banished and persecuted by the apartheid state, had become a political force in her own right, but went off the rails in the nineteen-eighties. She publicly endorsed the grisliest type of mob justice, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission later found her security detail directly responsible, with her close involvement, for numerous murders, abductions, and assaults.
In 1998, on his eightieth birthday, Mandela married Graça Machel, the widow of Mozambique’s first President, Samora Machel. A distinguished educator and humanitarian, she is the first person to have been First Lady of two countries. Walter Sisulu and Ahmed Kathrada attended the wedding, as did Christo Brand, one of Mandela’s former prison guards, who by that time ran a Robben Island gift shop in Cape Town.
Mandela served one five-year term as President, then retired. He continued to work and travel at a hectic pace, devoting himself to peace campaigning and charitable work, particularly children’s welfare and the fight against H.I.V./AIDS. He was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many other decorations and honors. In 2004, at nearly eighty-six, in frail health, he told a gathering at his home in Johannesburg that he was “retiring from retirement.” He wanted to read more books, live quietly in a house he had built in his ancestral village, and enjoy his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and doting wife. “Thanks for being kind to an old man,” he told his guests, “allowing him to take a rest even if many of you may feel that after loafing somewhere on an island and other places for twenty-seven years, the rest is not really deserved.” He promised to stay in touch. “Don’t call me. I will call you.”
Above: Mandela visiting a mixed-race high school in Johannesburg, 1994. Photograph by Ian Berry/Magnum.
A Fourth View
Of course, the challenges of centuries of exploitation are not over yet for South Africa.
Dear revisionists, Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view. Right now, you are anxiously pacing the corridors of your condos and country estates, looking for the right words, the right tributes, the right-wing tributes. You will say that Mandela was not about race. You will say that Mandela was not about politics. You will say that Mandela was about nothing but one love, you will try to reduce him to a lilting reggae tune. “Let’s get together, and feel alright.” Yes, you will do that.
THE RIVONA TRAIL. HIS STATEMENT.
… But the violence which we chose to adopt was not terrorism. Four forms of violence were possible. There is sabotage, there is guerrilla warfare, there is terrorism, and there is open revolution. We chose to adopt the first method and to exhaust it before taking any other decision.
I have always regarded myself, in the first place, as an African patriot. I was born in Mthatha, 46 years ago. My guardian was my cousin, who was the acting paramount chief of Tembuland, and I am related both to the present paramount chief of Tembuland, Sabata Dalindyebo, and to Kaizer Matanzima, the chief minister of the Transkei.
As I understand the state case… the suggestion is that Umkhonto was the inspiration of the Communist Party which sought by playing upon imaginary grievances to enrol the African people into an army which ostensibly was to fight for African freedom, but in reality was fighting for a communist state.
Winnie Mandela going to the trial The Rivonia trial electrified South Africa.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact the suggestion is preposterous. Umkhonto was formed by Africans to further their struggle for freedom in their own land.
Our fight is against real, and not imaginary, hardships or, to use the language of the state prosecutor, so-called hardships. Basically, we fight against two features which are the hallmarks of African life in South Africa and which are entrenched by legislation which we seek to have repealed.
These features are poverty and lack of human dignity, and we do not need communists or so-called agitators to teach us about these things.
South Africa is the richest country in Africa, and could be one of the richest countries in the world. But it is a land of extremes and remarkable contrasts. The whites enjoy what may well be the highest standard of living in the world, whilst Africans live in poverty and misery.
Baba Mandela, you have played your own part in an exceptional way. You have created a record that may be difficult to break by any one else. You were a valiant and the great father of black race of all time. Baba, I wish I could immortalize you. You were more than an ordinary person, more than a hero. You are the greatest man of all time. Remain the greatest in the world beyond. You are the great rock that refused to be broken. The brilliant light that refused to be deemed. You are so wonderful, Baba. You remain a brilliant star, even in your grave.
Love and miss you, till world without end.
Rest well, Baba Mandela.
FULL SPEECH ON RLEASE FROM PRISON
HUFFINGTON’s SLIDE SHOW IN CANADA