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    Exclamation NELSON MANDELA, Beloved Symbol of Freedom, 1918 - 2013

    Nelson Mandela dies; former president of South Africa was 95

    By Sudarsan Raghavan and Lynne Duke, Friday, December 6, 6:11 AM E-mail the writer

    Nelson Mandela, the former political prisoner who became the first president of a post-apartheid South Africa and whose heroic life and towering moral stature made him one of history’s most influential statesmen, died Thursday, the government announced. He was 95.

    The death was announced in a televised address by South African President Jacob Zuma, who added, “we’ve lost our greatest son.” No cause was provided.

    To a country torn apart by racial divisions, Mr. Mandela became its most potent symbol of national unity, using the power of forgiveness and reconciliation to heal deep-rooted wounds and usher in a new era of peace after decades of conflict between blacks and whites. To a continent rife with leaders who cling to power for life, Mr. Mandela became a role model for democracy, stepping down from the presidency after one term and holding out the promise of a new Africa.

    And to a world roiled by war, poverty and oppression, Mr. Mandela became its conscience, fighting to overcome some of its most vexing problems. He was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent 27 years in prison as part of his lifelong struggle against racial oppression.

    Throughout this moral and political fight, Mr. Mandela evoked a steely resolve, discipline and quiet dignity, coupled with a trademark big, charismatic smile. He ultimately carried them into office as South Africa’s first black president.

    His victory capped decades of epic struggle by the African National Congress and other liberation groups against South Africa’s brutal white rulers, first under British colonialism and then under a white-run system called “apartheid,” or racial separation.

    On the day of his inauguration — May 10, 1994 — Mr. Mandela stood at the podium near South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, F.W. de Klerk. A year earlier, they shared the Nobel Prize for what the Nobel committee called “their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new, democratic South Africa.”

    “We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation,” Mr. Mandela, then 75, declared. “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another . . . the sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement.”

    Only a few years before, the 20th century’s most celebrated political prisoner had been dubbed a terrorist by the conservative governments in the United States and Britain under Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, respectively.

    In the decades following Mr. Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, many South Africans of all races referred to him reverentially as Madiba, his Xhosa clan name. Countless others called him Tata, which means father in the Xhosa language.

    For all his achievements, Mr. Mandela will also be remembered as slow to react to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that began sweeping South Africa on his watch. It was not until 1998, four years into his presidency, that he directly addressed the South African public about the disease. Later, he would acknowledge that he had not initially recognized the severity of the epidemic.

    After he left office in 1999, Mr. Mandela devoted substantial energy and resources, both personally and through his Nelson Mandela Foundation, to raising awareness of the epidemic. In 2002, he publicly criticized his successor, Thabo Mbeki, for delays in implementing a plan to fight HIV/AIDS.

    In 2005, the epidemic hit home. A somber Mr. Mandela announced the death of his son, Makatho Mandela, 54, who had AIDS.

    Mr. Mandela’s years as president also were characterized by the public and political drama of his estrangement from his wife, Winnie. Separated in 1992, the pair divorced in 1996 after legal proceedings in which the usually private Mr. Mandela described himself in open court as “the loneliest man.”

    At the same time, he had to address the insecurities and animosities of the white minority that had lost political power but still controlled South Africa’s economy, military and bureaucracy.

    The Afrikaners, descendants of 17th century Dutch and French settlers, were especially traumatized by the transition to black rule, and their control of the military posed a potential threat to the young democracy in the early years of Mr. Mandela’s presidency.

    Though institutional policies were put in place to deal with white fears — such as a sunset clause allowing white civil servants and soldiers to stay in their jobs as long as they wanted — Mr. Mandela also used his powers of persuasion to disarm opponents, defuse threats and charm detractors.

    Dismantling apartheid

    Under Mr. Mandela’s leadership, South Africa slowly began eradicating racism from its legal canon, governmental institutions and school textbooks. A new Constitutional Court was inaugurated in 1995 as the highest court in the land. Among its early rulings was the abolition of the death penalty.

    In 1996, Parliament approved a new national constitution, including a bill of rights guaranteeing protections most South Africans had never imagined. For instance, South Africa was the first nation in the world to enshrine the protection of the rights of gays in its constitution.

    That same year, Mr. Mandela launched the country’s Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, led by Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Rather than Nuremburg-style trials, Mr. Mandela’s government fostered truth-telling and amnesty. On one hand, that meant killers who confessed would not be prosecuted. On the other hand, it helped ensure that the seeds of more racial hatred would not be planted.

    Mr. Mandela sought to bridge the lingering divides between blacks and whites in other ways, too. When South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup, he encouraged blacks to support the Springboks, the widely hated national rugby team that was seen by many blacks as a totem of white rule.

    When the Springboks won a riveting final over New Zealand, Mr. Mandela wore a Springbok shirt and presented the trophy to team captain Francois Pienaar. The gesture was widely viewed as a major step toward racial reconciliation.

    For all his strengths and bottomless energy, Mr. Mandela faced a seemingly impossible task as president: In a nation where millions of people lived in shacks, where non-whites had been purposefully impoverished and undereducated, he had to meet the expectations and hopes of the teeming masses who had propelled him to high office.

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    Today, millions of South Africans still live in deep poverty, without running water or electricity. Whites still largely control the economy. Blacks speak openly about the “economic apartheid” in the country.

    Mr. Mandela understood that he would perhaps never see the South Africa he had envisioned the day he stepped out of prison, but he sought until his last days to achieve that vision.

    “When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and oppressor both,” Mr. Mandela wrote at the end of his memoir, “A Long Walk to Freedom.” “The truth is that we are not yet free. . . . We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

    A born ‘troublemaker’

    Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born July 18, 1918, in the village of Mvezo in Transkei, a region bordering the Indian Ocean. His mother was Nosekeni Fanny, the third of four wives of Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, chief of Mvezo and counselor to two successive Xhosa kings.

    Mr. Mandela’s tribal name, Rolihlahla, carried the colloquial meaning “troublemaker” — perhaps a portent, he mused later. He grew up amid the deeply traditional customs, rituals and taboos of the Xhosas, including communication with ancestors.

    Shortly after his birth, his family was plunged into poverty when a British colonial magistrate deposed his father as chief. The family moved to Qunu, a village where Mr. Mandela maintained a home until the day he died.

    When Mr. Mandela was 9, he was sent, upon his deceased father’s instructions, to live at the Great Place at Mqhekezweni, the seat of the regent of the Thembu people. There, among tribal aristocracy, he was groomed for leadership.

    He also was steeped in the severities of a Methodist mission education and discipline. He attended a Methodist boarding school called Clarkesbury in the town of Engcobo and later Healdtown, a Wesleyan school in Fort Beaufort.

    At 21 and wearing his first suit, Mr. Mandela entered the University College of Fort Hare, the region’s only institution of higher education for blacks. At Fort Hare, Mr. Mandela met Oliver Tambo, who would lead of the ANC, and other young activists. Mr. Mandela studied law at Fort Hare but was expelled because of his activism.

    To escape a marriage being arranged for him, he sneaked off to Johannesburg, where he encountered Walter Sisulu, who would become his comrade, confidant, alter ego and fellow prisoner at Robben Island. At first, Mr. Mandela worked as a mine policeman. He took correspondence courses from the University of South Africa. And with Sisulu’s recommendation smoothing the way, he clerked in a liberal white law firm. Mr. Mandela completed his bachelor’s degree in 1942 and enrolled the following year to study law at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

    In 1943, Mr. Mandela joined the ANC, which exposed him to a multi-racial group of liberation theorists, communists and Africanists who would help shape his political and social views. Five years later, formal apartheid began in South Africa; the National Party came to power and imposed its racist theories about separate development.

    “I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments, produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people,” Mr. Mandela wrote in his memoir.

    A growing struggle

    Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, Mr. Mandela organized and agitated on behalf of the ANC. He held positions in the ANC’s youth wing and in the main organization. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings, Mr. Mandela was initially committed to nonviolent resistance regime. He worked in concert with the Natal Indian Congress, an anti-racism group that Gandhi had helped found.

    Mr. Mandela practiced law and raised two sons and a daughter with his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, whom he married in 1944. Another daughter died in infancy.

    By 1952, Mr. Mandela had become president of the ANC’s largest branch, in the Transvaal. That same year, he and Tambo opened the only firm of black lawyers in South Africa. They provided free or low-cost legal counsel to blacks.

    Mr. Mandela was arrested for the first time in 1952 while organizing an ANC defiance campaign. A court decreed that he could not legally be in the presence of more than two people at a time. Such repression drove activists like Mr. Mandela underground; in 1954, Mr. Mandela devised what he called the “M Plan” of small street cells to carry out nonviolent defiance of apartheid.

    In 1955, the year he separated from Evelyn, Mr. Mandela met Winnie Madikizela, a young social worker. A year later, he and 155 others were charged with treason. They originally were jailed but were released as the case dragged on. It ended in 1961 with verdicts of not guilty.

    Mr. Mandela and Madikizela had married in 1958, and their union became part and parcel of the liberation struggle. His new wife became an activist in her own right.

    As the ANC stepping up its activism, so did a related group, the Pan Africanist Congress. In what would emerge as a turning point in the black liberation struggle, the PAC organized a protest on March 21, 1960, in the black township called Sharpeville. As demonstrators marched to decry laws that required blacks to carry a pass to enter cities or other white areas, police opened fire, killing 69 people.

    The apartheid state clamped down with a state of emergency during which several leading figures were jailed, including Mr. Mandela.

    In 1961, Mr. Mandela and others in the ANC formed an armed wing, called Umkonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation. Popularly known as “MK,” the wing carried out a sporadic underground sabotage and guerrilla campaign.

    In 1962, just after returning from MK fundraising travels across Africa, Mr. Mandela was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for incitement and illegally departing the country.

    The next year, police arrested almost the entire leadership of MK. Along with Mr. Mandela, they were charged with treason, but when the case went to trial, the charges were changed to sabotage and conspiracy. They were convicted and expected to be hanged.

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    At sentencing, in the last public statement that Mr. Mandela would utter until 1990, he said: “During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have described the cherished ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

    Instead of death, Judge Quartus de Wet sentenced him to Robben Island prison, where he would spend 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment by the apartheid regime, confined to a tiny cell and forced to do hard labor in the prison quarry.

    Revered on worldwide stage

    During Mr. Mandela’s years in prison, South Africa’s townships became increasingly restive, leading to the 1976 Soweto uprising, in which police killed several schoolchildren. State repression deepened. In 1977, anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, who helped launch the Black Consciousness movement, was beaten to death in police custody.

    In the 1980s, as the state employed a series of states of emergency against opponents, the international campaign to change South Africa gathered steam. Economic sanctions were imposed and various boycotts were launched. At the center of the campaign was an effort to free Mr. Mandela.

    In 1982, Mr. Mandela was transferred to the Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland near Cape Town. A few years later, a series of secret talks began between Mr. Mandela and President P.W. Botha, who offered to release Mr. Mandela if he renounced violence. Mr. Mandela would not.

    At the same time, Afrikaners of the National Party began tentative talks with the ANC in exile, led by Tambo, Mr. Mandela’s old law partner. Those talks were the precursors to Mr. Mandela’s release in 1990 and the removal of the ban on anti-apartheid organizations.

    De Klerk and the National Party of 1990 thought they could free Mr. Mandela and still negotiate reforms that would leave the nation’s white minority with a veto power over black rule. But Mr. Mandela’s walk to freedom in 1990 set in motion a chain of events that would ultimately lead to free and fair elections and majority rule four years later.

    Mr. Mandela suffered some setbacks to his image as president. He tolerated inept cabinet members who had been loyal comrades in the anti-apartheid struggle. Some blacks believed he spent too much time seeking reconciliation with whites. Others resented his penchant for granting an audience to just about any kind of visiting celebrity, from the Spice Girls to American Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

    In 1998, Mr. Mandela married Graca Simbine Machel, the widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel. Besides Machel, survivors include a daughter from his first marriage, Makaziwe; two children from his second marriage, Zindzi and Zenani; and grandchildren.

    In retirement, Mr. Mandela did not recede from the public eye. In 2008, a frail Mr. Mandela attended a star-studded London concert to celebrate his 90th birthday. He struggled to walk to the podium. But then, in a strong voice and flashing his trademark smile, he urged everyone to support his campaign against global poverty and oppression.

    On his 93rd birthday, an estimated 12 million South African students sang “Happy Birthday” to him in a nationwide sing-a-long.

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    Nelson Mandela brought the world toward a racial reconciliation

    By Editorial Board, Friday, December 6, 5:45 AM

    Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill, Hitler — these were the names that, for much of the world, defined the first half of the 20th century, the most destructive era in history.

    Gandhi, King, Mandela — these, it could be argued, are the figures who will live longest in the public consciousness as we look back on the postwar world: leaders who had no real armies to speak of and who wielded little power in office but who helped create a new ethic through the power of their ideas and the example of their lives.

    Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. were, of course, men of peace, preaching nonviolent resistance to oppression and exploitation. Nelson Mandela, though not a combative man, felt there was no alternative to war against the apartheid government under which he lived, and he spent 27 years in prison for plotting violence against that government. (He and his associates planned a campaign of nonlethal sabotage and envisioned a military front, neither of which had come to much before he was arrested.)

    Mr. Mandela emerged from prison in 1990 with greater stature than any leader in South Africa, white or black. More important, he came out espousing reconciliation, understanding and forgiveness. Although he was an old man by the time he took power in his country, and delegated much of the work of governing to others, the trust he had gained among people in just about every camp was essential in South Africa’s transition from a racial dictatorship to a true democracy.

    Like Gandhi and King, Nelson Mandela had personal shortcomings, domestic discord and so on. But it was, to a large degree, the overwhelming and reassuring force of his personality that won over nearly everyone he came in contact with, from African villagers to prison guards to the men who ran his government. He was a regal figure, born into tribal royalty, tall, handsome and charming. He moved comfortably and confidently among his country’s many peoples — black, Indian, white — and made a point of seeing the good in each of them. As one of his admirers remarked, he had the gift of making all those he met feel better about themselves.

    Also as with Gandhi and King, Mr. Mandela engaged in one of the world’s most vital postwar tasks: dismantling the strong web of racist ideas, with which certain Western thinkers had sought for more than a century to rationalize the subjugation of others through colonialism, segregation and disenfranchisement. Anyone born in the past 50 years or so would have a hard time understanding how pervasive these ideas were in many advanced and sophisticated nations (including our own, which in much of its territory bore an unsettling resemblance to apartheid South Africa).

    Mr. Mandela, who died Thursday night at age 95, seemed to understand that the motivating force behind ethnic, religious and racial hatred is not only, or even primarily, self-interest; it is fear, distrust, a lack of understanding. In his person and his policies, he set out to show those on the other side that they had little to fear. He sought unity rather than revenge, honesty and understanding rather than the naked exercise of power. These are all fine abstractions, of course, but never so clear to us as when there is a living figure to exemplify them. That's why Mr. Mandela’s influence extended so far beyond South Africa and was felt by so many of the world's peoples other than Africans. It is the reason, now that he is gone, that it is more important than ever — in a century marked so far by frightening eruptions of terror and religious intolerance — to keep before the world the name and example of Nelson Mandela.

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    Nelson Mandela, who was jailed for 27 years by a white-minority government as a terrorist and walked free as a septuagenarian to lead South Africa to its first multiracial democracy, dies at 95.

    By Robyn Dixon, Bob Drogin and Scott Kraft

    Reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa

    December 5, 2013

    Nelson Mandela, who emerged from more than a quarter of a century in prison to steer a troubled African nation to its first multiracial democracy, uniting the country by reaching out to fearful whites and becoming a revered symbol of racial reconciliation around the world, died Thursday. He was 95.

    South African President Jacob Zuma made the announcement in a somber televised address to the nation Thursday. "Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell," Zuma said.

    Long before his release in 1990, at age 71, Mandela was an inspiration to millions of blacks seeking to end the oppression of more than four decades of apartheid, and his continued imprisonment spawned international censure of South Africa's white-minority government.

    Successive white South African leaders had portrayed him as a dangerous terrorist. But when Mandela was freed after 27 years, he surprised many by saying he bore no ill will toward his white Afrikaner jailers.

    Preaching reconciliation, he guided the nation through four years of on-again, off-again constitutional talks, using his moral authority to address the demands of an impatient black majority while, at the same time, winning over suspicious whites.

    Mandela and the man who released him, President Frederik W. de Klerk, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. A year later, Mandela, the son of a tribal chief, succeeded De Klerk after a historic, peaceful election, the images of which were seared into the memory of a global audience: Millions of blacks cast the first votes of their lifetimes.

    Under Mandela the economy grew, a constitution guaranteeing equality and press freedom took root, and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission unearthed many dark secrets of apartheid and granted amnesty to both whites and blacks accused of political violence.

    During his five-year term in office, Mandela's formal dignity and his skill in building consensus made him a rarity on a continent beset by corrupt dictators. Although his strongest supporters were deeply distrustful of whites, who controlled much of the country's economy, Mandela made a determined — and largely successful — effort to ease white fears.

    As his term drew to a close, he decided not to stand for reelection in 1999 and voluntarily stepped aside — a move almost unheard of among African leaders. His party, the African National Congress, again won the national elections and chose Mandela's vice president, Thabo Mbeki, as his successor.

    After leaving the government, Mandela's worldwide stature continued to grow. He became active in the fight against AIDS; a son died of the disease in 2005. He also traveled widely in support of human rights and efforts to end poverty and spoke out vehemently against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. In 2004, at age 85, Mandela announced his retirement from public life.

    Mandela's given name, Rolihlahla, literally means "tree shaker," or "troublemaker," in the Xhosa language. He was named Nelson by his teacher on the first day of school, but most South Africans, including those closest to him, called him simply Madiba, the name of his clan and a term of affection and respect.

    Mandela, an intensely private person, sometimes chafed at the saint-like celebrity that cloaked him late in life.

    "In real life we deal not with gods, but with ordinary humans like ourselves: men and women who are full of contradictions, who are stable and fickle, strong and weak, famous and infamous," he wrote in a letter to his wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, from prison in 1979.

    As a leader of the African National Congress, or ANC, Mandela was at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid, which used state violence and repressive laws to segregate and oppress South Africa's black majority.

    Blacks and "Colored," or mixed race, people were forced to live in restricted areas and could not move freely without passes. Black mini-nations, known as "homelands" or "bantustans," were set up in rural areas with few natural resources or amenities. Blacks got a separate, limited education, with a restricted number of places in black universities.

    More than 20,000 people died in civil and political strife under apartheid, and thousands more were jailed or tortured. In the years after Mandela was banished to Robben Island, a penal colony in frigid waters off the coast of Cape Town, the nation faced anarchy, while international economic and cultural sanctions made Africa's richest and most powerful country a global pariah.

    In 1985, Mandela wrote to the National Party government from prison, seeking talks on a negotiated settlement to the crisis. Then-President Pieter W. Botha offered to free Mandela if the ANC agreed to lay down its arms. Mandela replied in a message to his daughter, Zindzi, who read it to a crowd gathered in the black township of Soweto.

    "I cherish my own freedom dearly, but I care even more for your freedom," read Mandela's message, the first words from him after more than 20 years in prison. "I am not less life-loving than you are. But I cannot sell my birthright nor am I prepared to sell the birthright of the people to be free.

    "Only free men can negotiate," he said. "Your freedom and mine cannot be separated."

    In 1988, Mandela turned 70 and, a month later, contracted tuberculosis. His illness was successfully treated, but government officials worried they were being held hostage by Mandela's imprisonment. Releasing him could spark a revolution, but his death in prison might do the same.

    The government launched an elaborate plan to demythologize Mandela and "release him in steps," as one official put it at the time. That year, he was transferred from his prison in suburban Cape Town to a nearby prison farm, where he lived in a three-bedroom house.

    Mandela met secretly at the prison, and even in the presidential mansion, with Botha and government ministers to draw up a framework for discussions between the government and the ANC. Botha suffered a stroke in 1989 and De Klerk took over soon after, freeing seven of the longest-serving political prisoners. Four months later, in February 1990, De Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC and other black political groups and freed Mandela.

    The first years after Mandela's release were rocky. About 10,000 people were killed from 1990 through '93, many of them in violence between competing black political forces, notably the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

    Mandela suspected that much of the internecine bloodshed was fomented by white extremists, some operating from inside the government. Infuriated by the government's reluctance to investigate the killings, Mandela walked out of peace talks in 1992. He returned to the negotiating table several months later.

    In April 1994, South Africa staged its first democratic elections and the ANC swept to power in the new multiracial Parliament, which elected Mandela the nation's first black president. He was 75 years old.

    In real life we deal, not with gods, but with ordinary humans like ourselves: men and women who are full of contradictions, who are stable and fickle, strong and weak, famous and infamous."
    — Nelson Mandela


    As president, Mandela brought together right-wing whites and militant blacks under his banner of nonracial democracy. He won broad support for an ambitious program of reconstruction and development. Unemployment, crime and racial conflict persisted, but the president's popularity helped keep the country together.

    Mandela's personal life, though, had begun to fall apart after his release from prison. His commitment to a unified South Africa put him at odds with Madikizela-Mandela, the second wife who had stood beside him throughout his incarceration but became increasingly radicalized. They separated in 1992 after she was convicted of orchestrating the kidnapping and assault of several township youths, one of whom was killed, by her bodyguard retinue.

    Then, as president, Mandela forced his estranged wife's resignation as deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology after she was embroiled in a series of shady business deals and other scandals. He finally sued for divorce, but she refused to settle out of court.

    In March 1996, the president took the stand in a packed Johannesburg courtroom to publicly accuse her of adultery with an ANC aide. Speaking stiffly, Mandela said that after his release from prison, his wife had never entered their bedroom while he was awake.

    "I was the loneliest man during the period I stayed with her," he said. The judge granted the divorce and longtime friends, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, lamented the demise of the relationship.

    "We wanted them to have a kind of fairy-tale ending," Tutu said.

    Two years later, on his 80th birthday, Mandela married Graca Machel, the former first lady of Mozambique whose husband had died in a plane crash.

    "I don't regret the … setbacks I've had because, late in my life, I am blooming like a flower because of the love and support she has given me," Mandela said of Machel. "She has changed my life."

    An absent father and husband most of his life, Mandela had as many as four grandchildren living with him during his final years as president. Besides Machel, he is survived by a daughter, Maki, from his first marriage; two daughters from his marriage to Madikizela-Mandela, Zindzi and Zenani; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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    Nelson Mandela was born July 18, 1918, in Mvezo, a hamlet in South Africa's Transkei region, now the Eastern Cape. His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, a nobleman and chief in the small Thembu tribe, named him Rolihlahla.

    "I do not believe that names are destiny or that my father somehow divined my future," Mandela wrote in his 1994 autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom," "but in later years, friends and relatives would ascribe to my birth name the many storms I have both caused and weathered."

    Polygamy was a tribal custom, and his father kept four wives and had 13 children.

    Mandela's father was a stern, stubborn man with a strong sense of justice. Shortly after Mandela was born, his father refused to acknowledge the authority of a white magistrate. The official accused him of insubordination and took away his cattle, land and tribal chieftaincy.

    Mandela's mother, Nosekeni Fanny, was forced to move her children to nearby Qunu. Her new kraal — a homestead surrounded by a ring of branches — had three mud-walled huts, one each for cooking, sleeping and storage. The family slept on mats on the ground, grew its own food and wore only blankets.

    By the time he was 5, Mandela had been sent to watch cattle and sheep on the rolling green hills. He was surrounded by family, was steeped in tribal custom and lore and developed a love of the outdoors. He recalled a happy, carefree childhood.

    Unlike his father — a traditional healer who never learned to read or write — Mandela was baptized into the Methodist Church and at age 7 was sent to a one-room school. Mandela left his mother's side at 9, after his father died. The acting Thembu tribal regent had become his guardian, and Mandela moved to his far grander kraal.

    At the tribal court, he learned a lesson that would be fundamental to his own leadership. A ruler, the regent told him, should be like a shepherd: "He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go on ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind."

    Like his father, Mandela was groomed to counsel the Thembu king. He was sent to local English missionary schools and the University College of Fort Hare, then the only center of higher education for blacks.

    "I was 21, and I could not imagine anyone at Fort Hare smarter than I," he recalled.

    He soon quit the student council to protest a minor point of school policy. He then defied the headmaster's order to rejoin and was expelled. Like his father, Mandela refused to back down on a matter of principle.

    For me, nonviolence was not a moral principle but a strategy; there is no moral goodness in using an ineffective weapon."
    — Nelson Mandela


    Disgrace was followed by shock. Back home, the regent had arranged for him to marry a local girl. Mandela stole some oxen to sell for traveling money and ran away to the so-called city of gold: Johannesburg.

    It was 1941, and the former mining town was emerging as a modern city. Mandela was shortly introduced to Walter Sisulu, a local black leader and businessman.

    The meeting changed their lives, and South Africa's future.

    Sisulu arranged for Mandela to complete his college degree and to clerk at a white law firm. Soon after, Mandela enrolled in the law school at the University of the Witwatersrand. He was the only black law student in the class of 1946. He would complete his law degree from a correspondence college while in prison.

    Sisulu, a member of the ANC, helped channel Mandela's anger. Mandela joined the organization and, while living at Sisulu's home, met and married his mentor's niece, Evelyn Ntoko Mase. The couple had four children before separating in 1955 and divorced three years later.

    Mandela wrote later that he was unable to pinpoint "when I knew that I would spend my life in the liberation struggle." But he knew why: "A thousand slights, a thousand indignities," he said, had produced "an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people."

    The first white settlers, known as Afrikaners, had brought racial segregation to South Africa in the 17th century, and British colonial rule did little to ease the oppression. Blacks were deprived of their farmland, herded into urban slums and denied the vote and other basic rights.

    A whites-only election in 1948 brought to power an Afrikaner government determined to entrench white rule through a legal system that mandated racial discrimination in jobs, housing and virtually every other aspect of life. The new National Party government called it apartheid, an Afrikaans word meaning "apartness."

    Blacks, Indians and mixed-race "Colored" people were treated, by law, as inferior to whites. Blacks, though outnumbering whites 4 to 1, were at the bottom of the racial hierarchy.

    Under apartheid, white officials could seize any property they wanted. Ultimately, millions of nonwhites were forced from their homes at gunpoint and dispatched to urban "townships," which the government regarded as temporary worker camps, or to the barren rural bantustans.

    Mandela, Sisulu and others in the new ANC Youth League called for a campaign of strikes, boycotts and civil disobedience. But that meant defying not only the government but also an older generation of ANC leaders who wanted to fight within the law. When the dust cleared in the ANC, Mandela was among its new leaders.

    In 1952, Mandela and Oliver Tambo, who later became president of the ANC, opened the country's first black law firm. Together, they tried using the courts to fight the countless indignities of a regime that classified people literally by the curliness of their hair or the size of their lips.

    Mandela became increasingly overt in opposing the government's racial policies. The result was a series of arrests and legal bans that prevented him from addressing public gatherings or traveling outside Johannesburg.

    In 1956, he and 155 other people, ANC leaders and their allies, were arrested in a nationwide crackdown and charged with trying to overthrow the state and impose communism. Their treason trial lasted four years, but all were acquitted after Mandela convinced the court that nonviolence was a core principle of his organization.

    By then, South Africa was in turmoil. In March 1960, police had massacred 69 unarmed black protesters and wounded about 190 others in Sharpeville, a squalid township south of Johannesburg. The government responded to the resulting outcry by banning the ANC, the Communist Party and scores of other political groups as terrorist threats. Martial law was declared.

    Changing tack again, Mandela convinced the ANC's underground leadership that violence had become inevitable and necessary. He was authorized to create a secret military force, a repudiation of the organization's 50-year policy of nonviolence.

    "For me, nonviolence was not a moral principle but a strategy; there is no moral goodness in using an ineffective weapon," he explained in his autobiography.

    His secret return to South Africa and daredevil underground existence earned him the title of the "Black Pimpernel."

    His army, called Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation, launched a campaign to sabotage government installations, hoping to disrupt the economy and frighten away investment without causing a loss of life. Even though the ANC army would much later step up its guerrilla war, it never posed a serious threat to the apartheid government.

    Mandela had remarried in 1958, to Nomzamo Winnifred Madikizela, better known as Winnie, and they had two daughters. "Her spirit, her passion, her youth, her courage, her willfulness — I felt all of these things the moment I first saw her," he wrote.

    But they saw little of each other. To avoid arrest, he moved constantly, traveling by night, sleeping by day. He let his hair grow, shed his lawyer's suits for farmer's overalls and posed as a gardener.

    Slipping across the border, he arranged military training for ANC members in other African countries. His secret return to South Africa and daredevil underground existence earned him the title of the "Black Pimpernel," polishing his romantic image among blacks.

    After his arrest in August 1962, Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison for incitement to violence and leaving the country illegally. While serving that term, he and the ANC's military high command were brought back to court on a charge of treason, and were eventually convicted of sabotage.

    The eloquence of his speech at that trial, in 1964, echoed long after he, Sisulu and other ANC leaders were locked away and silenced.

    "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities," Mandela told the hushed courtroom. "It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

  7. #7
    ^^^ (Cont'd )

    In a ruling that would change the course of South African history, Mandela and his codefendants were not sentenced to death, as had been expected. The judge, in giving them a life sentence, said, "It is the only leniency which I can show."

    They were sent to Robben Island, a harsh penal colony off Cape Town.

    "I could walk the length of my cell in three paces," Mandela later wrote. "When I lay down, I could feel the wall with my feet and my head grazed the concrete at the other side.... I was 46 years old, a political prisoner with a life sentence, and that small cramped space was to be my home for I knew not how long."

    For 13 years, Mandela labored in the limestone quarry, breaking rocks into gravel. He could see only one visitor, and write and receive one heavily censored letter, every six months. Newspapers, radios and clocks were banned. Guards were often sadistic.

    Working in the quarry damaged his eyes, and later in life photographers were asked never to use flashes when photographing him.
    His health deteriorated. In 1984 he was found to have cysts on his liver and a kidney. Four years later, he contracted tuberculosis.

    But Mandela said he never surrendered to despair.

    "I do not know that I could have done it had I been alone," he wrote. "But the authorities' greatest mistake was to keep us together, for together our determination was reinforced."

    The political prisoners fought for better food, equal clothing and study facilities. Mandela was their spokesman, lawyer and teacher. Robben Island became known as Mandela University, a worldwide symbol of apartheid's repression but also a school for imprisoned activists.

    Mandela was moved to slightly more comfortable quarters at Pollsmoor Prison in suburban Cape Town in 1982. For the first time in 20 years, he was allowed to see and touch his wife and daughters.

    From his new cell, and later from a small cottage at Victor Verster Prison, about 35 miles from Cape Town, Mandela initiated negotiations with the white leadership. Because he knew his lifelong ANC colleagues wouldn't approve, he didn't tell them.

    It wasn't until February 1990 that De Klerk legalized the ANC and other long-demonized liberation groups, released all political prisoners and began dismantling apartheid. Mandela was among the last to be set free, refusing to renounce violence as the white government had insisted and agreeing only to unconditional release.

    Hundreds of reporters jammed the prison gates on the day of his release. He was a thin, graying 71-year-old and he recoiled when a TV crew pointed a boom microphone at him, fearing it was a weapon.

    The next four years tested Mandela's political skills. He was challenged by rivals and doubters in the ANC and other anti-apartheid groups, as well as by hard-liners in De Klerk's government. Multiparty talks to draft a constitution and prepare for elections foundered again and again.

    Police violence and township massacres escalated sharply, partly because government security forces had secretly armed and trained Zulu warriors from the Inkatha Freedom Party.

    The assassination of black Communist Party leader Chris Hani in April 1993 was a turning point. The country appeared on the edge of race war when Mandela appeared on national television to plead for peace.

    "Now is the time for all South Africans to stand together against those who, from any quarter, wish to destroy what Chris Hani gave his life for — the freedom of all of us," he said.

    The transition to majority rule had begun.

    The election the following April was a joyous event. The ANC won a sweeping victory and Mandela was inaugurated in Pretoria as the first president of a new South Africa.

    The challenges were immense, and the performance of Mandela's inexperienced Cabinet, particularly in key areas such as education and health, was sometimes disappointing.

    Mandela's government largely failed to meet its campaign promise to improve healthcare and education and to visibly change the lives of the poor. Many blacks complained that he was too conciliatory toward whites, and many whites chafed at his black economic empowerment initiatives.

    But South Africa's democracy brought a multiracial Parliament, an independent judiciary, a free press and integrated schools. A new constitution guaranteed long-denied rights and freedoms. And the country finally was at peace.

    South Africa's grand experiment, for all its shortcomings, was working.

    Mandela refused to take credit.

    The final paragraphs in his 2010 book, "Conversations with Myself," reflected that humility:

    "One issue that deeply worried me in prison was the false image that I unwittingly projected to the outside world; of being regarded as a saint," he said.

    "I never was one, even on the basis of an earthly definition of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying."

  8. #8
    World mourns Nelson Mandela, South Africa's 'greatest son'

    By Carol J. Williams

    December 5, 2013, 4:10 p.m.

    World leaders and human rights activists from around the globe mourned the death of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela on Thursday, praising the long-ailing 95-year-old as an inspiration to the abused and downtrodden worldwide.

    "We've lost our greatest son," South African President Jacob Zuma said in announcing Mandela's death, which occurred at 8:50 p.m. at Mandela's home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton.

    At the White House, President Obama praised Mandela as an inspiration and a paragon of moral strength "that all of humanity should aspire to."

    "Like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set. And so long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him," Obama said of the man whom he met only once, in Washington in 2005. Mandela was too ill to receive visitors during the president's June visit to Africa.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-mooncalled Mandela "a singular figure on the global stage -- a man of quiet dignity and towering achievement, a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration."

    British Prime Minister David Cameron sent condolences via Twitter: "A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I've asked for the flag at No. 10 to be flown at half mast."

    No. 10 is the address of the prime minister's official residence in London.

    Former President Clinton, whose presidency coincided with Mandela's historic evolution from political prisoner to head of state, lamented the loss of "one of [the world's] most important leaders and one of its finest human beings."

    On Capitol Hill, politicians from both sides of the aisle were united in lauding the revered freedom fighter as a man who transformed not only South Africa but also the world.

    "Nelson Mandela taught us about humanity in the face of inhumanity, and left an unjust world a more just place," said Sen. Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "He ended apartheid and united a nation, while demonstrating almost supernatural gifts of inner strength, forgiveness and reconciliation. Few individuals in human history can truly claim a legacy of peace and perseverance like Mandela can."

    Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in a tribute posted on Twitter, hailed Mandela as "an unsurpassed healer of human hearts."

    "It is hard to overstate Nelson Mandela's transformative impact on his country and the world," said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, the Delaware Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on African affairs. "The lesson of his personal determination in the face of decades of imprisonment and oppression, followed by his unwavering grace and forgiveness towards his former captors, is one of the great reconciliation stories in human history."

    New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg recalled the ticker-tape parade organized in his city for Mandela in 1990, the year he was released after 27 years of imprisonment for challenging white rule in South Africa, as well as Mandela's visit after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

    "Today, we lost one of the most transformative and influential figures in modern history. Nelson Mandela was a global icon who broke the back of apartheid in South Africa and inspired generations of people around the world with his spirit of resolve and reconciliation," Bloomberg said.

    Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a radio interview that "Nelson Mandela was one of the great figures of Africa, arguably one of the great figures of the last century."

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu, like Mandela a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, wrote a tribute to his fellow South African rights champion on the AllAfrica website in which he said all the world mourned the loss of "a colossus of unimpeachable moral character and integrity, the world's most admired and revered public figure."

  9. #9
    Nelson Mandela's Death and South Africa's Next Great Struggle

    With the anti-apartheid crusader's death on Thursday, will South Africans finally confront the stark inequalities that still plague their young democracy?

    NATASHA JOSEPH DEC 5 2013, 5:43 PM ET

    In the late 1980s, Jeffrey's Bay's waves were perfect and its politics was simple: white people ruled the roost, and black people were not neighbors—they were gardeners (or, as most people called them, "garden boys"), domestic workers ("maids"), and laborers. Jeffrey's, as it's known to the locals, is a coastal town in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. It's very famous for great surf and attracts wave warriors from around the world seeking the perfect barrel. In 1989, it also attracted my father—a journalist with a young family who was looking for a change of pace and an escape from big city newspapering. So we—my parents and I, with our pet dogs—moved to Jeffrey's and I was enrolled at the local primary school. I was seven. Every morning, my classmates and I sang the national anthem, Die Stem—The Call—beneath our country's white, orange, and blue flag. Our lessons were taught mostly in Afrikaans. I had no non-white classmates, which wasn't a big deal because my life had always been that way. I was white. My friends were white. The woman who cleaned my house was black.

    For our physical education classes, we were supposed to wear white. One day, my usual white T-shirt was dirty, or lost, and I raided my father's closet for a replacement—I liked to wear his clothes, even if they were a little baggy, because they helped me pretend I was also an important, smart journalist. This T-shirt was emblazoned with the smiling, gentle face of a black man. I put it on for the weekly class and was immediately pulled aside by the teacher. What was I doing, he demanded? Did I know that I was wearing the face of a terrorist? I had no idea what he meant, nor why the smiling black man and the words "Free Mandela" might make my teacher so very angry. I put the shirt back in my dad's cupboard and never told him the story.

    Four years later, I watched a different teacher weep as he tried to explain to an assembly of bewildered primary school pupils why it mattered so deeply that the man from my father's old T-shirt was about to become our president.

    I've never met a South African who is ambivalent about Nelson Mandela.

    To those who cling to him as a sort of talisman, he is an icon, a deity sent down to save us from ourselves. He is Jesus Christ returned, walking among South Africans of all races and guiding us through the frightening dying days of apartheid. Just more than 20 years ago, he was weeks from becoming president and one of his closest allies, South African Communist Party Secretary General Chris Hani, was assassinated at his Gauteng home by a white right-winger. Tens of thousands of South Africans, most of them black, took to the streets of major cities in an outpouring of public grief and rage. Mandela went on national television and told South Africans about Hani's white neighbor who phoned the police to describe the gunman. He called for calm. It worked. This is the Mandela who is invoked by the faithful, the devotees who insist he alone averted a civil war and saved countless white lives.

    To others, Mandela is no Jesus. He's more like Judas, betraying his cause and his people for the 30 silver pieces of power. Mandela is the man, his detractors argue, who let the National Party politicians and their brutal lackeys in the police, army, and civil service get away cleanly after their apartheid policies had driven the country to the brink of war.

    The detractors loathe those who believe, fervently, that Mandela is the only thing standing between white South Africans and marauding black South Africans determined to take homes, jobs, plots of land, and our lives by force.

    So who, and what, was Nelson Mandela, really? His 96th birthday would have been on July 18, but he spent a lot of time in the hospital since last December, his health badly damaged by a bout of pneumonia some years ago. Every time he was admitted to the hospital, the nation immediately divided: some held their breath, praying desperately for just a few more months or days, taking to Twitter to implore him to live to 100. Some of this was, I believe, driven by genuine affection for the old statesman. A lot of it is about symbolism: Mandela is the face of democracy in South Africa—nevermind the many who worked alongside him, both publicly and in the shadows—and his death will force us to face up to what the changes and gains of the past two decades mean to the average South African. For many, it's about fear. What if the right wing has been telling the truth all along? What if we're all slaughtered in our beds? Recently I had a furious debate with an old friend I'd always thought to be quite level-headed. He was amassing a substantial gun collection in preparation for Mandela's death. He felt absolutely certain that Mandela's death would doom the white minority. He planned to emigrate to Australia with his family, but if he can't manage to get there before Madiba's wake, his weapons are loaded and within easy reach.

    Then there are those who actively wished Mandela dead. The deification of Saint Mandela, they say, reveals just how deeply racist most white South Africans are—they only respect "good blacks." Others believe his death will clear the path for us to have the really tough discussions that are so crucial in South Africa right now. The African National Congress (ANC) has been the governing party for almost 20 years. A great deal has changed, but South Africa is still a staggeringly unequal society.

    In January 2013, a security policeman named Dirk Coetzee died of cancer. Coetzee famously lifted the lid on Vlakplaas, where apartheid activists were tortured and murdered by the police. Mandela and other ANC leaders were heavily criticized, mostly by black South Africans, for allowing Coetzee and others like him to testify before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in exchange for amnesty from prosecution. Why, people asked, had Coetzee not died in prison, where murderers belong? When, they demand, will we acknowledge that Mandela and his colleagues let killers walk free in the name of reconciliation? Why has there been no real, tangible redress for the victims of apartheid brutality?

    Through it all, Nelson Mandela moved quietly between his home in the posh Johannesburg suburb of Houghton and a series of hospitals in Johannesburg and Pretoria. His children and grandchildren make headlines here in South Africa for their sometimes utterly craven attempts to cash in on the incredibly valuable Mandela brand. There are deep faultlines in House Madiba (the statesman takes his nickname from his clan name)—the factions and the friction are like a real-life episode of Game of Thrones. South Africa's newspapers were recently alight with stories about the latest public battle: two of Mandela's daughters trying to take control of his estate. This infuriates those who believed in Saint Mandela, that he is a holy cow who must not be touched by gauche, human issues.

    This much is clear: Now that Mandela has died, something will shift in South Africa for good. It will be time to take stock of where we are as a young democracy and realize that ending apartheid was just one battle in a much bigger war. I hope we're ready to fight.

  10. #10
    Will the World Produce Another Nelson Mandela?

    Look around the globe, and you won't find a successor worthy of him. Are there any on the horizon?

    MICHAEL HIRSH DEC 5 2013, 7:15 PM ET

    The great ones, it often seems, hand off the mantle of greatness to each other. Nelson Mandela, in his 1994 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, described how Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in 1941 helped change his life and those of his fellow black students in the infant African National Congress with the Atlantic Charter, which committed the West to human dignity and universal rights, setting the stage for the entire postwar world. "Some in the West saw the charter as empty promises," Mandela wrote, "but not those of us in Africa. Inspired by the Atlantic Charter and the fight of the Allies against tyranny and oppression, the ANC created its own charter." Called "African Claims," it set out the aspirations that would make Mandela a revered world figure a half-century later.

    Then a young Barack Obama sought to take the mantle from Mandela. In his own autobiography, Dreams from My Father—in a story he again repeated on his visit to Africa last June—Obama described how the anti-apartheid movement that Mandela led effectively began his own rise to charismatic leadership. As a freshman at Occidental College in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, Obama made his first attempt at public speaking at a divestment-from-South Africa rally (where "Free Mandela!" was often a rallying cry). He wrote that few of the Frisbee-playing students were listening when he began in a low voice, saying, "There's a struggle going on." Then he raised his deep baritone, and suddenly, for the first time, the Obama Effect made itself known. "The Frisbee players stopped…. The crowd was quiet now, watching me. Somebody started to clap. 'Go on with it, Barack,' somebody shouted … I knew I had them, that the connection had been made." Thus, inspired by Mandela's struggle, was launched a voice that would ignite a meteoric political rise and, once upon a time, inspire huge crowds in places like Berlin and Cairo.

    With the announcement of Mandela's death Thursday at age 95, who will the mantle go to now? In his remarks, the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, called Mandela South Africa's "greatest son." But Mandela was far, far more than that, as Obama indicated when he flew to South Africa last June, just after Mandela fell mortally ill, and pre-eulogized his personal hero as a "hero for the world." Is there anyone else left on the planet who could be described that way? Who's the next Mandela? Is one even possible?

    Certainly Obama himself doesn't qualify (yet). Indeed, it doesn't seem far-fetched to call Mandela the last of the great ones, the truly inspirational historical leaders on the scale of a Gandhi or Churchill or FDR who lived noble (if not entirely untainted, though Mandela comes close) lives and, more importantly, who genuinely changed the world for the better. Look around the world, and you see no one else of that stature. Even the once-sainted Aung San Suu Kyi, Asia's answer to Mandela who suffered as a house prisoner of the Burmese junta for 20 years while her husband died and her children grew up without her, has looked somewhat compromised since she was freed and began her tentative dance with the dictators. Recently Suu Kyi has temporized, in a most un-Mandela-like way, over the Burmese military's brutal oppression of the Kachin and Rohingya communities in Burma, and that "has tarnished her image abroad while raising concerns about the future of Burma's tentative political reform," Ellen Bork wrote in an article titled "Burma's Fallen Idol" in Foreign Policy.

    As for the other major leaders on the scene, from the United Kingdom to Europe to China to Russia to most of the rest of Africa, there is precious little to admire, and plenty to lament.

    Why is that? Don't we still have great causes, or has the entire globalized system grown too gray and compromised? Perhaps somehow, starting with places like South Africa, just enough justice and freedom has been achieved in the last few decades to make everyone just a little too satisfied and a little too willing to hedge and fudge. The anti-apartheid movement of the '80s was in some ways the last really coherent global social justice campaign. We've seen two successive social movements erupt in the last two decades over the still-devastating inequalities in the global economy—the anti-globalization protests of the '90s and then Occupy Wall Street– and yet no inspirational figure has emerged from them and both movements petered out with a whimper (though old Ralph Nader's still around, making some fairly valid points about the excesses of free-trade agreements). Time magazine's annual list of the world's "100 Most Influential People" is continually deflating, stocked with pop artists, tycoons, marginal politicians, and … Sheryl Sandberg.

    It's not like we haven't seen some new mini-heroes spring up, and Aung San Suu Kyi's story is far from finished, just as Obama's isn't. Aaron Swartz, the Internet activist who tragically killed himself when faced with prosecution last year, has inspired a movement around a bill that would rein in prosecutors. Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old education activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban, would seem to have a great future—if she survives future assaults. National Security Agency leader Edward Snowden has found a following among a few libertarians and far-leftists, but few others. If the global economy has had any heroes over the last few years, it's probably central bankers like Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi—but, never mind about that. No cause, and no leader, has inspired anything like the devotion and reverence that Mandela did.

    Is it that Mandela was truly unique? In his autobiography, Mandela wrote that he was "no more virtuous or self-sacrificing than the next man" and never wanted the mantle of movement leader, but it was the struggle for basic freedom "that transformed a frightened young man into a bold one, that drove a law-abiding attorney to become a criminal, that turned a family-loving husband in to a man without a home, that forced a life-loving man to live like a monk." As usual Mandela is being too humble. It wasn't just the way he conducted his struggle against the racist white regime in South Africa, in and out of prison (refusing, in case we've forgotten, any conditions at all for his release, including renouncing violence). It was also the way, after he was released from 26 years of imprisonment and became president, Mandela transmuted his personal suffering into a larger understanding, as only the great ones can do, and an embrace of his former enemies that was about as close as you get to Christ-like in the modern world.

    "He's a personal hero, but I don't think I'm unique in that regard," Obama said in Dakar last June. "I think he's a hero for the world. And if and when he passes from this place, one thing I think we'll all know is that his legacy is one that will linger on throughout the ages."

    Especially because there is no one to replace him.


 
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