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Nelson Mandela

10 March 2013, 19:02

What if this is the end?

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe.

Mandela himself was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand and qualified in law in 1942.

During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela's reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.

 Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. After his release, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life's work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa after the organization had been banned in 1960, Mandela was elected President of the ANC while his lifelong friend and colleague, Oliver Tambo, became the organisation's National Chairperson.

The behind-the-scenes collaborations that started with a meeting between Kobie Coetsee, then minister of justice, and Nelson Mandela in 1985.

By 1986, negotiations involved senior government officials, intelligence agents, and the African National Congress. For the next four years, they assembled in places such as a game park lodge, the Palace Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland, a fishing hideaway, and even in a hospital room. All the while, De Klerk's campaign assured white constituents nothing would change. Sparks shows how the key players, who began with little reason to trust one another, developed friendships which would later play a crucial role in South Africa's struggle to end apartheid. The participants' deep mutual suspicion was gradually replaced by excitement at the prospect of making a momentous agreement—and also by the dawning realization that the people on the other side were human beings, perhaps even decent human beings. The back-channel communications between Mandela and the A.N.C. in exile, the trepidation of Botha and the apparent transformation of his successor, De Klerk—were key issues at play.

10 May 1994, Nelson Mandela became SA's first black president and whilst addressing the crowd, President Mandela paid tribute to outgoing president Mr FW de Klerk commenting he has made for himself a niche in history and De Klerk has turned out to be one of the greatest reformers, one of the greatest sons of South Africa. Although there was recognition that it would be hard to reverse apartheid's legacy, there was a general feeling that - with Nelson Mandela at the helm - the country would pull through.

Subsequently, Motsoko Pheko, a member of parliament for the Pan Africanist Congress - a rival to the ruling African National Congress during the long anti-apartheid struggle - said government policies were "pure appeasement".

Following the inauguration ceremony, President Mandela entrusted his deputy, Thabo Mbeki, with the day-to-day business of the government.  Mandela himself concentrated on the ceremonial duties of a leader, building a new international image for South Africa. After his retirement he maintained a work-rate that few men half his age could have kept up with, campaigning globally for peace, children and the fight against HIV/Aids in particular.

Mandela has spent his recent retirement at his homes in Mozambique, his birthplace Qunu in the Eastern Cape, Johannesburg and Limpopo. 

There are rumours of unofficial plans, variously dubbed “Operation Vula,” “Night of the Long Knives,” “Operation White Clean-up,” “Operation Iron Eagle” and “Red October campaign”,  one of the operations planned entails 70,000 armed black men “being transported to the Johannesburg city centre within an hour” in taxicabs to attack whites. Sources say most blacks in the country are aware of the plans. When racial disputes occur, blacks often tell whites, “Wait until Mandela dies.”

It seems this rumour has spiralled out of control.” Many whites are now convinced a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing will follow Mandela’s death whenever it comes. Some are making preparations for retreats.

What is evident from Mandela’s dream is the government has made extensive headlines relating to crime, HIV, economy, black empowerment, corruption, education and pretty much a shattered dream.

A lot of people around the world looked upon the new South Africa, hoping to find in it hope, a model for peaceful resolution of deep-rooted conflicts. The negotiations that ended apartheid are indeed a prime example of how to negotiate and manage deep-rooted conflicts. But the fact that South Africa today is one of the most dangerous countries in the world and with a very uncertain future shows that post-apartheid South Africa is in no way an example to be followed.

This being said -

Mandela could not have come about without the pivotal childhood environment that fashion his politics and characteristics. The family values, culture, and class of Mandela’s childhood truly defined the identity of Mandela. As a leader of his time, Mandela has truly been without peer.  No political figure possessed the distinctive character traits that made Mandela truly exceptional, namely his moral authority, tenacity and leadership skills.  Moreover, his generous spirit and passion for tolerance have enabled him to transform the racial politics of South Africa and bequeath to his country a rare legacy of political compassion and new hope for racial harmony. 

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