Farrakhan arrived in South Africa on Saturday, January 27, for a four-day visit that
included a meeting with President Nelson Mandela on January 28. Farrakhan was invited to
South Africa and hosted there by the radical, all-black, Pan-Africanist Congress.
The meeting was covered widely in the South African media, reflecting the outrage of
many whites that their president would meet with Farrakhan. Press accounts of the visit
referred to the vicious anti-white statements of NOI spokesman Khalid Abdul Muhammad in
December 1993 at New Jersey's Kean College, when he said (among other hateful remarks)
that all white South Africans should be killed. And they expressed concern that Farrakhan
would inflame the tenuous new racial relations in the country by making the same sort of
The South African Jewish Community Protests
South Africa's Jewish community vehemently protested the meeting, outraged that their
country's leader, who has become an icon of racial tolerance and co-existence, would confer
legitimacy on a prominent racial separatist and anti-Semite. A delegate from the
South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) met with government officials prior to the
visit to discuss the implications of the meeting and to try to dissuade Mandela from
holding the meeting. The group expressed concern that Farrakhan would use the
meeting to boost his quest for legitimacy in the United States without having to retract
any of his past rhetoric.
"This is not only a Jewish matter but also an issue of racism as Farrakhan
has attacked homosexuals, whites, Catholics and women aside from Jews," the
SAJBD said in a statement after the meeting.
And a spokesman for the South African Union of Jewish Students said, "It is indeed
a travesty that a leader who seeks to sow discord amongst various groupings and whose
agenda is obviously contrary to the spirit of the new South Africa and its Constitution is
welcomed by President Mandela, himself a symbol of the new dispensation."
Meeting With Mandela
The two men met for about 30 minutes at Mandela's suburban Johannesburg home, discussing
racism, religious tolerance, and the rights of women, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Mandela told reporters afterward, "I've met with many people whose views I don't
agree with. I have met apartheid leaders and those from white extremist
Farrakhan said he agreed with Mandela's opposition to racism, saying it had
"poisoned the bloodstream of all religions and ideologies."
The NOI leader did indeed try to use the meeting to confer legitimacy upon
himself, as reflected in the coverage by the organization's newspaper, The Final Call.
An article in the Feb. 14 issue equated Mandela and Farrakhan as two freedom
fighters for the same cause, neglecting to mention that Mandela stated after the
meeting that he does not agree with Farrakhan's views, or that Mandela has
preached peace and tolerance while Farrakhan and his followers promote racial exclusion
"The two men momentarily gazed into each other's eyes, perhaps reflecting on the
pains and sacrifices, the controversies and troubles each has witnessed in their quests to
liberate the suffering Black masses in their particular countries," the article
While all mainstream press accounts that quoted Mandela after the meeting cited the
president's opposition to Farrakhan's views, The Final Call reported that Mandela
made the following statement:
"And there was no issue that arose on which there was disagreement. He has
explained his position. His views are identical with the principles that I put
Some of the fears of the country's white population were realized in later remarks
Farrakhan made, which were not nearly as conciliatory as those statements uttered in the
presence of Mandela. Right after this harmonious meeting, Farrakhan held a news
conference at his hotel where he condemned South Africa's whites. He said the country's
white population has made strides to overcome the legacy of apartheid, "but they need
to make a public acknowledgment of the wrongs they have committed."
Farrakhan said he is not a racist: "For a black man to become a racist, he
must first have power," he said. He also said NOI is committed to the
equality of women.
And that same day, Farrakhan stated his oft-repeated call for land to be set aside in
Africa for American blacks. "We have asked that territory be set aside in Africa
because we did not leave voluntarily. We have a right to Africa. This is our
mother land. You have a vast land here that is not used. Over a million blacks
are in prison right now, with no future. We are saying give them to us to teach them,
reform them, and let them work off their time."
On Wednesday, January 31, in a lecture at Vista University in the black township of
Mamelodi near Pretoria, Farrakhan once again uttered his theory of racial
supremacy by telling students that blacks were the first people on earth. "Light skin
is weak, dark skin is strong. You can get recessive from dominant, but not
dominant from recessive. That tells us that white people were not the first on
earth," he said.
The New York Times reported that while in South Africa, Farrakhan and
his 30-person entourage rode around in white stretch limousines with gold detailing, an
unusually ostentatious display for that country.