Monday, December 09, 2013

What did Nelson Mandela do that was so noteworthy?

On a day when the United Kingdom parliament is tied up with flattery and flummery surrounding a deceased person who had a very marginal connection with this country, is it unreasonable to ask what exactly Nelson Mandela did that was so laudable?

Apparently he was someone who could have carried out a "bloodbath", but didn't.

Is it so exceptional, even in Africa, to expect politicians to refrain from slaughtering people?

No doubt the Afrikaners, other European immigrants (including a significant number of Jewish people) and the large Asian community were relieved not to have experienced a "bloodbath".  I am sure the large multi-national companies operating in South Africa are very pleased that their plunder of the economy continues unabated.  On a general level I think we can all be grateful that large numbers of people have not lost their lives.

But what did Nelson Mandela do that was so noteworthy?

Here was someone who could have behaved like a savage but restrained himself?  I don't think that is something especially worth celebrating.  Even in Africa I think we can expect, indeed demand, that politicians do not behave like savages.

He was not a Bokassa.  He was not an Idi Amin.  He was not even a PW Botha.

We might be relieved that he was none of these people, but is it not an indictment of the African continent that a politician who was not a monster is so exceptional that it warrants a special session of the British House of Commons to mark the fact.

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