The Genius of Mandela
By I.A. Rehman, Dawn, December 12, 2013
MOST of those paying tributes to Nelson Mandela are focusing on his qualities that they themselves hold precious and thus they present a variety of portraits. But he was a greater person than the aggregate of his qualities and achievements.
No comment on Mandela’s life is complete without reference to his 27 years in prison, his release and his becoming the first black president of South Africa. But there was much in his life, between these milestones, that should be of interest to students of politics and social change.
When the 46-year-old Mandela told the court in 1964 of “his ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunity”, an ideal for which he was prepared to die, he mentioned his ideal and not the means. For he was changing from a hardline champion of the use of force into a man of peace. It may be useful to recall Mandela’s years as a militant revolutionary, or as a “terrorist” as Mrs Thatcher and other priests of reaction called him.
The African National Congress (ANC), Mandela’s political alma mater, was wedded to non-violence. Mandela argued that after the failure of a prolonged non-violent struggle a change of tactics was necessary.
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