06 December 2013

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

"The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world." - The G-Man, Half-Life 2

Some great people never get to see the world they create - they are taken too soon, frequently by someone else. Martin Luther King and Gandhi both are cases in point.

Mandela was one of the other type - those who live long enough to receive the plaudits they deserve, 95 is a superb innings for anyone let alone someone who spent 18 years in a horrible prison. He did not bring down apartheid single-handedly; Oliver Tambo (who died in 1993 before Mandela's election) did a lot of the legwork in that department and others played their roles. Apartheid would have ended without him when the Cold War's finish eliminated the reasons for the West not to go all in on sanctions.

But it would have been a very different end and a very different South Africa. This was a man who could have easily gone Robert Mugabe on the country when he took power, but chose not to. There could have been hangings galore and the white population ending up largely in other countries, but he chose not to. (I suspect some of those singing his praises for the peaceful actions he took would be backing him if he had went Mugabe...)

Without Mandela, who had to bring along a very reluctant ANC at times (and frankly, his successors as head of the Rainbow Nation haven't been great), it is entirely possible that South Africa could have ended up in a Syrian-style civil war... with nuclear weapons.

For that, he will justly be respected for centuries if not millennia.

Rest in Peace, Mr. President.

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