46664: Mandela

Seeing black and white people in front of Nelson Mandela’s house celebrating his life would have been unimaginable a quarter century ago.

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 is 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 ensure 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 a 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.

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