Honestly, I think this is one of the best quotes I have heard. I admit it, I am a fan of Nelson Mandela. Don't get me wrong, I think that he was wrong about socialism and I do know his history. But, the one thing you can't get away from once he was in a position of power, he didn't abuse it. He didn't turn into those despots that are all so common in Africa. I also ask myself would I have thought differently in the same set circumstances?
I do think the world lost a great man yesterday. His past wasn't always pretty but in the end he did what he could to bring equality to millions who wouldn't have had it otherwise and he did it through a democratic process. He grew and matured into a man that was able to accomplish things that seemed impossible decades earlier.
People will quibble over whether the African National Congress was the best means of bringing justice to South Africa. They may debate whether sanctions were the right way of pressuring for the end of apartheid. One could point out that Nelson Mandela once embraced violence, but I cannot say that I would not have done the same under those conditions. He later came to realize that violence would not bring down apartheid without destroying South Africa.
One can certainly question whether today’s South Africa fulfills the potential it has for freedom and opportunity. However, there is no doubt that Nelson Mandela was exactly the leader South Africa needed – even if he didn’t start out that way. He was courageous through long years of abuse and imprisonment. He was magnanimous and a force for peace and reconciliation when he was released and catapulted to the presidency. Others in his circumstances have become dictators and authoritarian leaders, exacting vengeance on their enemies. He came to be admired even by those who had once opposed him. The world has lost a great man today.