In Answer to a question from an American friend, and with all the media these days pointing out that Mandela was not the hero he is cracked up to be, I have got this to say:
You needed to be here. And being here I mean from at least from the 1960s to 1994. You need to understand the hate, the pain, the suffering, the desperation of a country at war with itself.
All his detractors fall into two camps, the same extremists you see today. They still hate each other. The whites who still hate every "kaffir"in sight, no matter if that is a good or a bad person. The blacks who hate every "malungu,"and want to chase them into the sea.
Between 1990 and 1994, the country went up in flames. People say we nearly had a civil war. We did not nearly have a civil war, we HAD a civil war. Chris Hani was shot dead, look up the Boipatong massacre. People were dying violently every day. We had the "third force" creating havoc where no havoc existed before.
Then there was Madiba. He managed, against all odds to take us from a civil war to a free and fair election, where South Africans of all race groups stood in miles long ques next to each other , they spoke to each other with respect, they joined together to put an end to the madness, to look for a better future.
By his very presence Madiba gave us all hope. I can honestly say that no other leader in South Africa's history ever did that. And I doubt if we will ever see such a leader again.
His detractors say he did not do enough, or that he did too much. He did what he could, he did what he had to to, and he left a legacy for us to follow.
Love your neighbour as yourself, seek peace and forgiveness, have courage in the face of adversity, fight for the truth, for justice in whatever way you can, have patience, these things take time, and I think his legacy has not been carried out in his lifetime, it will still take many years to get to fruition and it is for us, all South Africans to honour him by making it happen.
Those who choose to disparage him need to take a walk back into the past and have a damn good hard look at what the man faced and then come back and tell me he is not a hero.
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