Friday, 13 December 2013
NELSON MANDELA R.I.P.
On the death of any seemingly much loved husband, father, grandfather (and great-grandfather?) condolences are very much in order for the bereaved family. On this basis I would wish to add my condolences to the Mandela family.
However the reception of the not unexpected news that Nelson Mandela after quite a long illness and well into his 90’s had now died was overblown by all the media generally, but especially ridiculously so by the BBC.
Nelson Mandela was of course a great man not only as Leader of the ANC and President of South Africa, but also as a world figure, but I do question whether he was the greatest man of the 20th Century as at least one commentator burbled? I certainly think not.
In terms of secular sainthood we should remember that he was responsible for various deaths and convicted of terrorist offences in South Africa. I suspect that he would have been convicted on the same facts in a British court as well.
It is certainly true that his crimes were politically motived by his opposition to the apartheid regime in South Africa, but nevertheless there was blood on his hands. This puts him in sharp distinction to another figure that he has been compared with and, in my opinion, a much greater figure, namely Mahatma Gandhi. Mandela also did not have world impact of somebody like Churchill in the 20th Century. Nor can he be compared in stature as a historical figure against some of the bad men of the 20th Century, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tsi-Tung, Pol Pot. Nevertheless it is proper to say that, in the context of South Africa, he is an important and great man.
The news reporting that I read and heard seems entirely to ignore the role played in a peaceful transition from apartheid to ANC rule by President of South Africa, President de Klerk. De Klerk was after all as important in enabling a peaceful transfer of power as Nelson Mandela himself. No doubt the whole process of peace talks had been going on for a long time before Nelson Mandela was released from prison and it may have happened on the footing that there was going to be a peace process.
Nevertheless Nelson Mandela deserves great credit for the peaceful transfer and the emergence of largely a peaceful nation although not as a successful and peaceful as made out by the media, given the large numbers of murders and rapes and general civic and criminal mayhem that is occurring in South Africa.
Nelson Mandela’s outstanding qualities are most vividly revealed by comparison to any other black African politician.
Compare him for example with the Leader of the opposition to white rule in Rhodesia and what has happened since with the now President Robert Mugabe of what is now Zimbabwe and you will immediately see that as against the appalling standard of most black Africa’s leadership, Nelson Mandela stands out as a relative beacon of hope for humanity.
But secular saint? Sorry, no I don’t think so, but what do you think?