Nelson Mandela is dead. I doubt that nay nation can lay claim to a former leader who has had the same impact on the birth of a nation in quite the same way this incredible man had. I search though the history of my own country, New Zealand, and I cannot come up with anyone approaching his status.
If it was not for his magnanimous manner, I am pretty sure that the transition from the old oppressive Apartheid regime would have been far more problematic. What could have been a tumultuous time, was instead one of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘rebuilding.’ What could have been a time of hopelessness, transitioned into an era of hope.
When he became President, Mandela could have launched a bitter period of ‘payback and violence’ against the former leaders but he chose not to. Instead, he embarked on a nation building process that was inclusive; one that acknowledged the ‘truth of the past,’ but also looked forwards to a brighter future, for all South Africans. If his vision fails, it will not be because of any failing on his part, but totally with those he left the reigns to.
Yes, South Africa has a long way to go before the inequalities of the past are healed and for all South Africans to be able to take part in all aspects of the economy and political structures. Mandela has left behind a nation that clearly shines as one in Africa that has a good chance to achieve the goals that so many other nations aspire to. There are ‘warts’ and processes that have yet to worked through or corrected, but he helped to lay the basis that is so essential for his dream of a Rainbow Nation’ to take its place in the world. It is up to his successors to make it happen. They must put aside those tendencies that have derailed so many other dreams. ‘Father,’ you will be so sadly missed, but now it is your ‘rest time.’