While some South Africans have taken offence to a video clip that’s been going viral for months, showing an impassioned young Joe Biden in 1986 pleading for support for South Africans suffering under apartheid, most have welcomed the video as a sign of Biden’s pro-equality stance and his genuine care for the wellbeing of not just US citizens, but those outside of the USA too. After Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, much of the world is hoping that Biden will repair and build better international relations.
The video was filmed 35 years ago, on 23 July 1986 at a time when only white South Africans were allowed to vote, and the majority of them were voting for the National Party which had implemented apartheid laws in the country. It is to that “repugnant” and “ugly white regime” that Biden’s comments are directed. (Obviously, as SAPeople contributor Canita Domingo points out: “A lot has changed since then. People have changed since then. Their views have changed since then. We forgive and form relationship with those we thought were the enemy. Then we realise, we are no different from one another.”)
While other politicians and big business turned a blind eye to the laws that denied basic human rights to the majority of the country’s people (black, Indian and Coloured South Africans), Biden crusaded for a way to bring about change.
The footage was filmed during a senate hearing involving Reagan’s then-Secretary of State, George Schultz. Here’s a short clip (2’30”), followed by the longer 8’34” video on C-Span: