South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela died peacefully yesterday at his home. He was 95 years old.
The anti-Aparthied revolutionary icon who spent 27 years in prison as punishment for his attacks against South Africa’s racist regime also led his country to democracy & became the nation’s first black president.
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It wasn’t easy. Mandela’s renunciation of violence made it possible for him to work with then-South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk to find a political solution to the nation’s troubles. His election in 1994 as President ended the nation’s global status as an international pariah & paved the way for black South Africans to have full equality.
Perhaps Mandela’s biggest contribution towards national healing was his creation & promulgation of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission that was charged with investigating past human rights abuses & had provided a platform for the airing of grievances. For South Africans across the political & color spectrum, the process of watching victims forgiving those victimizers who publicly asked for forgiveness was a cathartic one.
Like America’s George Washington (& unlike most African leaders of the post-colonial era), Mandela never sought political power as a way to enrich himself. He stepped down from the Presidency & enjoyed his private life.
He formed the Nelson Mandela Foundation & The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund as a way to do charitable work.
Mandela was a selfless humanitarian & a genuine statesman. He will be greatly missed. RIP, Madiba.