Friday, December 06, 2013


You can read many things about Nelson Mandela on the internet today. Two points I'd make:

  • He managed the transition from apartheid about as well as he could; he could have been Robert Mugabe on steroids, but he chose a different path. As a result, South Africa is one of the few countries on the African continent that isn't being run by an autocrat. That counts for a lot.
  • He wasn't a saint, but he was wise enough to see the long-term implications of the path that the African National Congress could have taken. He got rid of his wife Winnie, who was a nasty piece of work, and while he did include his ANC colleague Joe Slovo (a full-on Communist) in his initial government, he didn't let Slovo run rampant. As it happened, Slovo died early on, but while he was alive he could have done a lot of damage. He didn't. More importantly, since Nelson Mandela left office at the appointed time, with an orderly transition of power, he set a precedent that has served his country well. 
Things could change for South Africa, of course, and there have been some troubling signs in recent years, but at the time of his death, it's tough to dispute that Nelson Mandela left the world a better place than he found it. RIP.

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