Friday, 6 December 2013
Many words will be written by those eminently more qualified than I over the coming days, months and years, but I thought it would be appropriate to just jot a few notes down.
Nelson Mandela was a moral hero almost beyond equal in the 20th and 21st centuries, enduring greater pain and injustice than most of us will know in our lives.
Labelled a "terrorist" by those great self-appointed defenders of "freedom" Margaret Thatcher, John Howard and Dick Cheney, Mandela lost 27 years of his life on a miserable rock off the coast of Cape Town (anyone who looks to the recent political right for champions of human rights will be sorely disappointed, bar one apostate).
While comparisons between Mandela and people like Gandhi will likely be made, these are largely offensive. Where Mandela brought a nation torn apart for decades together, the absurdly devout Gandhi helped break one apart, all the while wanting to throw India back to some medieval agrarian spinning wheel-powered state. Mandela's conciliatory actions throughout not only his presidency but his life generally speak to a great moral courage and power that few throughout history have possessed. His legacy should outshine many of those who claim a place in the pantheon of peacemakers.
Mandela's legacy will be no doubt debated for decades to come, but I can be certain that we need more of his kind in our world.