Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday at age 95, fully deserved the legendary stature he enjoyed around the world for the last quarter-century of his life.
He was one of the most extraordinary liberation leaders Africa, or any other continent, ever produced. Not only did he lead his people to triumph over the deeply entrenched system of apartheid that enforced racial segregation in every area of South African life; he achieved this victory without the blood bath so many had predicted and feared.
And, as South Africa’s first president elected by the full democratic franchise of all its people, he presided over a landmark Truth and Reconciliation process that finally allowed apartheid’s victims a measure of official recognition and acknowledgment of their suffering.
Mr. Mandela’s enormous strength of character steeled him for his long struggle and ultimate victory over apartheid. Even deeper resources of political wisdom and courage steered him toward the course of constructive reconciliation over destructive vengeance.
Mr. Mandela did not, of course, achieve all of this on his own. The movement he led, the African National Congress, was sustained by lesser-known activists and martyrs, many of whom did not live to see the day of victory they had dreamed of for so long. And the country’s peaceful transition owes a huge debt to the apartheid era’s last white president, F. W. de Klerk, who in 1990 ordered an end to Mr. Mandela’s 27-year imprisonment and negotiated with him and others the terms of the political transition. Three years later, Mr. Mandela and Mr. de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize. >>>Read More New York Times
The world has lost a moral example of selfless leadership, a man of courage, principle and honour. Humanity is poorer without Nelson Mandela.