When we reflect upon the death of Nelson Mandela, one cannot help but understand the good, and the evil in all of us. Apartheid was an evil blight and every one of us should be glad that it ended. Many Americans don’t know that to a great extent the demands by large pension and mutual funds of Americans played an important role in forcing South Africa to change as Wall Street funds pulled the rug out from under the South African apartheid economy.
I was pleasantly surprised when he led the country of South Africa in a positive direction after years of advocating Communism and black-on-black violence. I’m old enough remember the practice of “necklacing” which was used by one set of blacks to put a gasoline filled tire around the neck of other black citizens and set the tires on fire. The first half of his life was not just filled with hate for his oppressors, but with any black person who disagreed with his world view and that of the ANC (African National Congress). Thousands of black South Africans were killed by their own brothers year after year in this most terrible and cruel fashion.
The second half of his life was different and he would later repudiate his violent past. He was however, no Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King led by non-violent example and believed in the equality of all, even those black citizens who may have disagreed with him. The same simply cannot be said of Mr. Mandela.
Fortunately there is redemption and forgiveness for each of us and none of us are above making mistakes. If there is any comfort in bidding Mr. Mandela farewell, it is the recognition that the final chapter of his life was very different from the first–both in personal freedoms for the majority of citizens in South Africa, and in his own change of heart.
(Footnote: Mr. Mandela, always a darling of the Soviets, was the last person to be awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize in 1990. He was in prison at the time and did not receive his award until 2002.)