South Africans and the world have lost the most beloved human of the 21st century, Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela. What is your take in the life of this one of the greatest citizens of the earth? Who, as a progressively thinking human being, can you equal this stateman?

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Thanks Belle, as a South African I am at great mourning as much as we know that death is the eventuality, we are still, as humans, have not evolved to the level of not feeling the lost when one of us dies. Thanks Belle again, I cannot wait to read your reflective response.

Mahatma Gandhi was a peaceful force for change, even in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela is no more

I was sitting in a pub in New York City in April 1994 when a television over the bar announced that Nelson Mandela had just annihilated F.W. De Klerk in the election for President of South Africa. The room exploded into thunderous applause.

That was the beginning of my admiration for Nelson Mandela and my amazement at his personal charisma. I have never before (or since) seen a politician get cheered for appearing on television. Mandela had won over the room... for winning an election... in a foreign country... on the other side of the planet.

In those days, I doubt most Americans really understood life in South Africa, but they detested the idea of apartheid and institutionalized racism*. For this reason, I think many Americans had come to see Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress as a symbol of freedom and justice.

I was shocked to learn that Mandela, just 20 years ago in 1994, was the first black President in Africa. (In Africa, for fuck's sake!) Perhaps history, at long last, has balanced that glaring injustice. Mandela may have arrived virtually last, but he's taken his place at the forefront of the world's elder statesmen as a towering historical figure.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
Martin Luther King Jr.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Susan B. Anthony
Cesar Chavez
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

*This was reflected in a popular movie made in 1989, Lethal Weapon 2, which cast the South African government as a racist gang of organized international criminals.

Correction Gallup'sMirror: Nelson Mandela was not the first Black President in Africa. Africa is a huge continent with different countries. Nelson Mandela was the first Black President in South Africa, a country within the African Continent.

I am a South African in the midst of the mourning and I was a bit shocked today, not in the passing of a great man, but by some of the responses of the people around me. One lady I spoke to said, as if shrugging the event off her shoulder, "He did a lot of good, but he did a lot of bad as well," seemingly trying to emphasize the fact that he wasn't who people thought he was. There have been similar messages of people on Facebook.

I personally see him as a hero. His 'bad' that he did was, in my opinion, out of necessity against a truly cruel government in an attempt at freedom for the nation. People act as though, if they were in a similar situation, that his acts were 'unthinkable' or just plain wrong. He is not above being human and people forget that and instead try to see him as a god-like being who is the embodiment of good.

His sense of forgiveness instead of revenge was an unbelievable perspective that most of the country still can't come close to, till this day! His ideals have become what our entire country is striving for. If that doesn't classify as great then nothing will. 

A brilliant light has been lost in our world today.

People who knew him were interviewed on CNN today and said that he actually felt a lot of hatred and resentment toward those who had taken away so much of his life and caused so much harm to the blacks, but that he knew his country was at a fork in the road. One fork was a highly destructive civil war which would have after effects going on many generations, and the other fork was peace through forgiveness and reconciliation and he knew there really was no choice when you looked at it that way.

People who knew him were interviewed on CNN today and said that he actually felt a lot of hatred and resentment toward those who had taken away so much of his life and caused so much harm to the blacks, but that he knew his country was at a fork in the road. One fork was a highly destructive civil war which would have after effects going on many generations, and the other fork was peace through forgiveness and reconciliation and he knew there really was no choice when you looked at it that way.

This captures what I most admire about Nelson Mandela. He very much had a choice and he went with the much more difficult one.

Consider the violent redistribution of land from white to black ownership in Zimbabwe, a program which a South African tribunal ruled was less about justice for marginalized black farmers than about cronyism for President Robert Mugabe loyalists and the ruling elite. Mugabe, like Mandela, rose to power amid a backlash against white minority rule.

Mandela and most of those who supported the ANC had every right to be outraged. With the power and popular support he had obtained, Nelson could have been a Robert Mugabe, and set about extracting his payback in land, treasure and blood, to be distributed among his supporters.

But, no.

Instead, he became Nelson Mandela, champion of reconciliation, human rights, and a relentless foe of poverty and inequality. Maybe he could never stop feeling angry at how badly he had been hurt, but what incredible strength and wisdom Nelson had to just let it all go for a purpose much greater than himself.

Indeed Teri G. I regard him as a perfect human being. A perfect human being is one whose anger is known, whose laughter is known, whose hatred is known, whose scandals are known, whose love is known. An open book life. That is a perfect human being.

Mandela was not always loved, partly due to blind anti-Communism (he was at one time a member of the Communist Party) and partly due to the fact that before he became a political prisoner he actually was a leader of the ANC, which did engage in terrorism, some of which he at least approved of (as an officer of the party) if he didn't actually commit terrorist acts himself.

The following stresses the importance of not sanitizing or mythologizing his life, because that undermines appreciating his intellectual growth and transformation from fighter/terrorist into a man of peace almost on a par with Ghandi.

Now that he’s dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington’s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan placed Mandela’s African National Congress on America’s official list of “terrorist” groups. In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution urging that he be released from jail. In 2004, after Mandela criticized the Iraq War, an article in National Review said his “vicious anti-Americanism and support for Saddam Hussein should come as no surprise, given his longstanding dedication to communism and praise for terrorists.” As late as 2008, the ANC remained on America’s terrorism watch list, thus requiring the 89-year-old Mandela to receive a special waiver from the secretary of State to visit the U.S. (source)

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