Mandela Was Man of Reconciliation

Mandela revisits jail cell

Nelson Mandela lived his long life with purpose. That’s why he is so admired after his death.

He was certainly no saint. But he had the important merit of recognizing his mistakes and to draw the right conclusions from them.

Mandela, who died at the age of 95, left the world a better place than he found it. That is why he deserves the praise heard today from everyone.

The issue of racial discrimination has been a major problem for humanity for centuries. The United States became engaged in a Civil War in 1861 to a large degree because of the race issue.

Northerners fought Southerners, but the country was blessed by the presence of a great leader, Abraham Lincoln, who saved the union and paved the way for the liberation of African-Americans.

In South Africa the situation was the same and even worse until the late 20th Century. There, a small minority of whites tried to perpetuate a system of Apartheid, essentially the enslavement of blacks by whites.

This is the world Mandela engaged and struggled to change. In the end, he succeeded, with the help, of course, of his compatriots.

He is worthy of honor and glory because his greatest achievement was that he did not allow anger about injustices to lead him to extremes that would destroy the country.

When he was finally released after 27 years in prison and became President of South Africa, he chose the path of reconciliation rather than revenge, and that was what made him an historic figure.

Mandela came to prominence after his speech before the court which sentenced him to prison.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

In the end, his dream became reality and he became one of the greatest leaders the African liberation struggle. He not only led the fight for the overthrow of the Apartheid regime, but achieved it peacefully.

Not all the problems of South Africa have been solved. Blacks are not exactly equal to whites yet, and the crime rate is very high. But the South African citizen has at least one model, a hero who put his country on the path – if Mandela’s countrymen keep following it – to peace and progress.

That is something analogous to what is happening with the leaders of this country, that unfortunately we did not have or did not care to build in Greece.