Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Nelson Mandela dies at age 95…

Thu 5 December 2013, 10:14pm

Not sure there is much I can say… except he changed many people’s outlook on him, his struggle against anti democracy, and ultimately his own countrymen’s outlook both upon themselves and their place in the wider world…

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, via Dan Hannan.

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Comments (20)

  1. paulG (profile) says:

    And they dared to call him terrorist, while they looked down their guns…

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  2. Politico68 (profile) says:

    God Rest his soul, A true man of God and a great example to all of us as to the power of forgiveness.

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  3. What seems to set Nelson Mandela apart from so many other politicians in conflict situations is that he embraced those who were not like him. He didn’t just seek victory for ‘his’ people, but for everyone in South Africa. He gave moral leadership, a rarity in modern times. And I note that if he hadn’t been in the ANC, and if he hadn’t served time in prison, his leadership wouldn’t have been so strong.

    When I compare Mandela to local politicians, most come up short. As we listen to tributes being given in the NI Assembly and elsewhere, I imagine the contrast between the example that is being celebrated and those celebrating his strengths and achievements will sadly be obvious.

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  4. Republic of Connaught (profile) says:

    RIP to an iconic man. Let’s hope future generations of South Africans never forget his message.

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  5. ThomasPaine (profile) says:

    Just as when Diana and Mother Teresa died, I know I am going to feel incredibly annoyed in the coming days when the media tell either half the story of the deceased, an unbelievably slanted version of his life and actions, or when they gloss over many, many unflattering actions he took throughout his life.

    I can’t help but feel frustrated at the lack of reporting of his life before 1990. Or indeed before 1962. Or his actual achievements or lack of them when he came to power. Will anyone look at the economy and crime (particularly rape) in South Africa since 1994? Or how he refused to run for another term when he knew his country was heading for horrific difficulties he had a hand in bringing about with his decision making?

    I very much doubt it.

    Never before or again will Ramsey Clark’s aphorism be more appropriate. One man’s terrorist really is another man’s freedom fighter.

    What injustice a person has suffered can turn them into something equally as repulsive in order to defeat it. Here is Mandela singing about his paramilitary group and the murder of white farmers as late as 1991.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcOXqFQw2hc

    Circumstances always make the man. What went on in South Africa from 1948 (and before then) was vile and serves as a reminder that circumstances always make the man – Gandhi was the exception who proved this rule – and that upon occasion violence is necessary.

    When talking about his life over the coming days, into a saint he must not be made. He was a human. He had terrible things done to him and his people and in return visited terrible things upon who he deemed legitimate targets. But he moved on. Eventually.

    If Madiba’s life is reported as it should – that a man, not an angel, went on a journey, not from political prisoner to President, but from hatred to reconciliation – then perhaps many people in our wee part of the world will see similarities and realize that maybe, just maybe, there are lessons to be learned which will help improve all our lives.

    Alas, I won’t hold my breath.

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  6. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Mandela had true moral integrity: honest and sincere.

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  7. ThomasPaine (profile) says:

    By the way, this time two years ago a massive political row erupted when a council in Durban renamed a road after a Umkhonto we Sizwe freedom fighter who had blown up a shopping centre and killed 5 people.

    We are not so special.

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  8. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    Last line in “Touch of Evil” always applies:

    He was some kind of a man… What does it matter what you say about people?

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  9. carl marks (profile) says:

    One of the truly great people who changed not only his own country but inspired many more struggling around the world.
    Both sides here could learn much from him. I wonder how many of our politicians will be as lauded when they pass on, perhaps John Hume might get close!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFW7845XO3g‎

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  10. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    Nelson Mandela, may God rest him, like Gandhi, was a giant, a huge inspiration, a man of profound decency and one who will have a secure place in the pantheon of great figures of world history.

    Like Gandhi, Mandela was also fortunate in the enemy he faced. The South African regime was based on a repulsive doctrine but it was not, as we who were protesting students at the time fondly believed, uniquely evil. It had laws, disgusting laws, but they could be challenged, courts operated, prisoners were not, and here I add the obvious qualifier – usually, summarily executed. It was a brutal regime but open to criticism, if not overly responsive to such criticism.

    Here is perhaps the saddest aspect of South Africa, for all its faults it was actually one of the best run states in Africa. Mandela was jailed, in a tough prison in conditions that would have been similar to many British and US prisons at the time, he was not chopped up and eaten by FW DeKlerk as he might have been in the Central African Republic or Uganda or many of the other hellholes of Africa at that time.

    Mandela would not have achieved his greatness against an opponent like Mao Tse Tung or Josef Stalin, he would have simply disappeared like countless of millions of others like him.

    Today South Africa is still the best run nation in Africa, largely because of the great statesmanship and wisdom of Mandela in his decision to dismantle the Apartheid rules but not the basic government system bequeathed by the white minority.

    Rest in Peace, Nelson Mandela, a true hero.

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  11. carl marks (profile) says:

    . Mandela was jailed, in a tough prison in conditions that would have been similar to many British and US prisons at the time, he was not chopped up and eaten by FW DeKlerk as he might have been in the Central African Republic

    Of course you seem to forget the brutality of the regime and the fact that many died under torture inside its police cells and prisons, the causal way it murdered on the streets and of course its obscene racial purity policy.
    It was not brought down because the bigots were deep down nice people (they were evil basterds) it was brought down because of the courage of the likes of Mandela and the political skill of the ANC, they made sure every act of brutality was exposed and were simply more intelligent than the racists.
    Even the backwoodsmen of unionism stopped publicly supporting the regime when the civilised world give support to the ANC (of course that didn’t stop loyalists trading secret British government military technology for guns)

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  12. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Obit thread lads… say your piece, and move on please? Maybe we can have a lessons from in a day or two but not now CM…

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  13. fordprefect (profile) says:

    Thomas Paine
    I am sorry to hear of the death of Nelson Mandela, but I agree with you. The sycophantic crap that was spouted by every news channel that I put on last night was unbelievable! Funnily enough I also referred to him as “saint” Nelson on another blog earlier. He was a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the “armed wing” of the ANC, and it wasn’t so long ago that he was described as a “terrorist”. I remember reading in his book “Long Walk To Freedom”, how he looked out of an aeroplane window at the terrain below him, and thinking that it would be a good training ground for UwS guerrillas to practice shooting and bombing their enemies in South Africa (I don’t blame him for that, and in fact I think he was right, if the state are going to treat you like shit and a 2nd class citizen and kill you, then hit back). What was most vomit inducing, was the “great and the good” and all the “statesmen/women” from around the world trying to outdo each other in their praise for him, these same people will no doubt be jostling, shoving, pushing and kicking each other to see who can get closest to the head of his cortege.

    Harry
    “Today South Africa is still the best run nation in Africa, largely because of the great statesmanship and wisdom of Mandela in his decision to dismantle the Apartheid rules but not the basic government system bequeathed by the white minority”.
    Is it F***! There are still millions of people living in the utmost squalor in Soweto and other “townships”, the murder rate is sky high, rapes are rising exponentially and the government won’t recognise the problem of AIDS. The ANC government has been dogged by corruption (and internecine feuds) since the day and hour it got into power. The only thing that has been got rid of is Apartheid, all the other stuff (surprise, surprise) has mainly remained the same. Umkhonto we Sizwe and the ANC promised the people of SA a socialist alternative, it didn’t happen (wonder why that rings a bell with me!?). Once they got into power they behaved every bit as bad as the Afrikaaner scumbags before them, you know, we’ve got a right few Rand now and villas and houses in foreign climes, so, f*** the lower orders (funny, that rings a bell with me as well!). So in essence, you still have a sort of “apartheid” in SA, whereas the blacks at the top table are doing okay, while the blacks at the bottom, well take the crumbs, or f*** off!

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  14. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    Still the least worst run nation in Africa. If you know of a better run nation in Africa than S.A., for all its problems, feel free to point it out.

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  15. fordprefect (profile) says:

    Well, before the West stuck it’s size 10′s into them, any of them!

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  16. fordprefect (profile) says:

    Namibia

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  17. Greenflag (profile) says:

    A sad loss for human beings of all skin hues and cultures. .

    I’m proud that he became a Freeman of Dublin. I can’t think of any other modern politician other than Nelson Mandela over the past 30 years who steered his nation away from war and towards peace at a time when it could so easily have gone the other way as it so very often did and continues to do in the Middle East and other parts of Africa and now perhaps even East Asia .

    When you look around at todays politicians in the Middle East – it seems as if their raison d’etres is forever war and more war and even more hatred .

    ” As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom I knew that if I did’nt leave my bitterness and hatred behind I’d still be in prison ‘

    Wise words that many In Northern Ireland and elsewhere might benefit from taking to heart . For there are many alas who have never been in prison in NI and yet remain in a bitterness and hatred prison of their own making .

    more anon

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  18. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    ” I can’t think of any other modern politician other than Nelson Mandela over the past 30 years who steered his nation away from war and towards peace at a time when it could so easily have gone the other way.”

    Good thing you weren’t on the Nobel peace Prize committee when they gave John Hume the prize then wasn’t it?

    Sheesh, talk about a prophet in his own town and all that.

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  19. Greenflag (profile) says:

    It’s an obit thread . Keep fighting your war elsewhere

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  20. carl marks (profile) says:

    Mick Fealty (profile)

    6 December 2013 at 4:49 am

    Obit thread lads… say your piece, and move on please? Maybe we can have a lessons from in a day or two but not now CM…

    Thought I was getting paranoid but seems it was only aimed at me! Certainly doesn’t seem to be anybody else being told to move on!

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