Madiba, 20 years later

February 12, 2010

On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison.  He had been in prison for 27 years.  When he was released from prison, he chose to push for reconciliation rather than revenge.

It is perhaps not so widely reported these days, but South Africa was pretty close to combustion in the early-90s.  The hard-core right wing Boers, led by Eugene Terre’Blanche (funnily enough), were close to beginning an armed struggle to establish a separate Afrikaner state within South Africa.  If Mandela had urged Black and Coloured South Africans to take (justifiable?) revenge on decades of oppression, the country, and most likely the African continent in general, would be a drastically different place.

Nelson Mandela is called Madiba in South Africa. (Or so they tell me.)  Without any shadow of a doubt, Nelson Mandela is the most significant man alive today. (In my opinion, for what it’s worth.)  For twenty years he has shown the world that it is possible to forgive and coexist peacefully, even in the most difficult circumstances.

It’s a shame his message has not been taken to heart by more public figures.

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2 Responses to “Madiba, 20 years later”

  1. i like the thought, very respectable and i agree. nelson is an amazing story wish there were more like him. can you tell me why there are not as many of these stories now? is the human drive gone? or is it just overed up? or am i blind?

    • dmulliken said

      you know, i think it has to do with fear. i just watched “the leader, the driver, and the driver’s wife”, which is about terre’blanche, and it’s pretty obvious he (and his followers) were/are scared.

      likewise with other people in power – mugabe is afraid to lose what he has in zimbabwe. the entire cold war was an exercise in manifestations of fear. after 27 years of prison, mandela couldn’t possibly have been afraid of anything – he had nothing, so there was no risk of him losing anything.

      it’s not that humanity is changed. fear is, and always has been, easier. that’s why there are so many dictatorships in history and so few who stand for peace. it is far easier to become a hitler, a stalin, or even a mugabe than it is to become a ghandi, mlk jr., or mandela.

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