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.