46664: Mandela

Random thoughts about the passing of Nelson Mandela:

The forgiveness he showed to his oppressors was the epitome of Christian compassion; don’t know if I would have been so fair, or so shrewd.

I realize that my information about Mandela are at least slightly blurred by the portrayal of him by Morgan Freeman in the movie Invictus. I am assuming the scene is true, because it seems consistent with the man’s actions in real life: Mandela becomes president. Most of the whites working in the government are expecting that they will be fired, or I suppose, worse. But as he assures various staffers that he wants them to stay to insure competent continuity, he surprises the white people, and irritates some of the blacks, particularly the members of his party, the African National Congress, who were expecting the spoils.

Earlier, it showed that he learned Afrikaans, the language of the oppressor, in prison, in order to learn the Afrikaners, which in fact, he did. But he later used that knowledge to make peace, not retribution.

I was watching the news coverage last night, naturally, and seeing black and white people in front of his house celebrating his life would have been unimaginable a quarter century ago. Many of those people there were too young to remember him being released from prison in 1990, or even his presidency, which ended in June 1999. Yet they realized his import.

Someone on the news compared Madiba -the clan name by which he was known – with George Washington, and I think that is apt. He was the father of an integrated South Africa, and he knew when to retire. Yet, it was those last 14 years, when he became an icon, that burnished our memory of him.

There was a white female reporter, I think on CBS, who was asked how the country was coping, and she admitted that, as a South African, she too was feeling the tremendous loss as well.

I loved the little dance he did when he was happy.

He became an attorney to fight injustice; see, not ALL lawyers are so bad.

11 thoughts on “46664: Mandela”

  1. I just heard on Democracy Now that Mr. Mandela was not taken off the US Terrorist Watch List until 2008! When he came to visit the US in 1999 he had to be granted a waiver. But he was still considered a “terrorist” by the foolish and self-destructive people who run our government.

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  2. Dan: I know. That’s what I mean.

    Mandela was not a pacifist. The ANC were not pacifists.

    I feel like there is this vast oversimplification of Mandela’s story. He wasn’t a South African Martin Luther King Jr. If anything he was closer to Washington or Jefferson.

    Tie in the whole war on terror, government surveillance and our participation in his imprisonment… I just feel like a teachable moment is being lost.

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  3. True, Washington was to the British.

    But:

    (1) the British would be analogous to South Africa. That doesn’t excuse the US casting the ANC as terrorists to support US economic interests (Google “Tar Baby Option.”)

    (2) Once the ANC and Mandela got what they wanted, they didn’t turn around and continue acting violently. They promoted peace and reconciliation.

    It’s just… if we didn’t LEARN anything from Mandela’s story, then what is the point of celebrating his life?

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  4. As a matter of fact, during the US Revolution the English did officially consider the American soldiers to be criminals and even used the word “terrorists” to describe us. And they treated captured American soldiers accordingly i.e. very brutally:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_Ship_Martyrs%27_Monument

    I don’t think we ever forgave the English for what they did to us, I think we just chose (mostly) to forget about it. That’s not at all the same thing. Mr. Mandela led his followers to remember and forgive, which is a much more powerful thing.

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  5. He was an extraordinary person it’s sad that we don’t have more of them in the whole world.
    The States suffer from a terrorist complex, they see terrorists in all corners !

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