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RIP Nelson Mandela
December 5, 2013 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Nelson Mandela has died peacefully at home at age 95. The Globe and Mail has a good roundup of information and resources about his life. The PBS Newshour already has a show online about his life and moments after the news broke even The Onion chimed in. Rest in peace, Madiba.
posted by mathowie (359 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by graymouser at 3:12 PM on December 5, 2013


I saw him speak on the tour he did in the 90s after he was released from prison. My mom forced me to go (I was 11) and it was one of the only, only times where, "When you're older you'll be glad I made you do this" was actually 100% true.

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posted by polly_dactyl at 3:12 PM on December 5, 2013 [48 favorites]


I've heard the NYT Nelson Mandela video is pretty good too (watching now).
posted by mathowie at 3:12 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by FritoKAL at 3:12 PM on December 5, 2013


"Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all." - Nelson Mandela

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posted by jazon at 3:12 PM on December 5, 2013 [20 favorites]


Nelson Mandela was born into life as an undesirable provincial subject under the dominion of one of the most powerful empires this world has ever seen. He grew up into, and was imprisoned by, an almost incomprehensibly vicious and racist state, whose hate for leaders like him and his people would have justifiably broken any man, and indeed killed many.

But he died free and he died a hero, the likes of which rarely appear on this world. The empire that birthed him was whittled away from overreach and the growing awareness of the importance of self-determination. The state that jailed him choked to death on its own bile and contradiction, dying alone and rejected by right-thinking people around the world. He outlived his emperors, his oppressors, his jailers, and he did it all with a kindness and an optimism that still seems impossible.

We'll never see his kind again, and perhaps that is for the best: I don't want the circumstances that shaped his indomitable spirit and unshakable hope to exist again on this earth. But we've lost something today that we can't get back, and for that, I weep.

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posted by The Notorious SRD at 3:12 PM on December 5, 2013 [145 favorites]


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posted by octothorpe at 3:12 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by oceanjesse at 3:13 PM on December 5, 2013


FRONTLINE just made The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela available online. It's two hours. Your local PBS affiliate may be airing it tonight or tomorrow, I'll let you know when it's known for sure.

It includes some incredible details about Madela's stay on Robbin Island and a whole bunch of other stuff I didn't know about until I watched it.
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posted by mosk at 3:16 PM on December 5, 2013


Hard for us to have him go, but release from incurable illness and the infirmities of age for him. Thanks for being a fantastic role model.
posted by Cranberry at 3:16 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

RIP, great man.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:16 PM on December 5, 2013 [24 favorites]


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It will be a hard thing to take to see the many people around the world who support de facto apartheid cry their crocodile tears and lie through their teeth about all the good that he managed to do.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:18 PM on December 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

--Nelson Mandela
posted by chavenet at 3:18 PM on December 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


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posted by bwerdmuller at 3:18 PM on December 5, 2013


The Surprising Republican Civil War That Erupted Over Nelson Mandela and Apartheid
posted by jillithd at 3:19 PM on December 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


You have the feeling that a hundred years from now when most current politicians are about as well remembered as James Buchanan is today, Mandela will still be remembered.
posted by octothorpe at 3:19 PM on December 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


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posted by Smart Dalek at 3:20 PM on December 5, 2013


He was a shining example of humanity. If you want an example of what he stood against, you can read the obituary thread on Free Republic.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:21 PM on December 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


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posted by chunking express at 3:22 PM on December 5, 2013


It's a goddamn honor merely to be the same species as Nelson Mandela.
posted by davidjmcgee at 3:22 PM on December 5, 2013 [33 favorites]


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posted by banterboy at 3:22 PM on December 5, 2013


It's sobering to read that he was removed from the U.S. terror watch list in 2001.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:23 PM on December 5, 2013 [15 favorites]


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posted by BibiRose at 3:23 PM on December 5, 2013


PBS is offering a feed of Long Walk to local stations tonight and tomorrow night at 9 EST, but it's up to the station whether they want to carry it or not.
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posted by sukeban at 3:24 PM on December 5, 2013


We spent a little over 3 weeks in South Africa in 2004, the 10 year anniversary of democratic elections. The most powerful experience we had was our trip to and tour of Robben Island, in particular the moments standing in Mandela's cell.

He was one of those rare individuals whose life moves history in a different direction. But for Mandela, and his extraordinary ability to forgive, South Africa would simply not be a peaceful, democratic nation.

He was a giant. Even at age 95, his death leaves a big huge hole.

Go gently to a well deserved reward, Mr. Mandela.
posted by bearwife at 3:24 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by sammyo at 3:24 PM on December 5, 2013


He lived nearly a century and changed the world. He had a good run.

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posted by zardoz at 3:25 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Charlayne Hunter Gault writes:
The renowned South African writer Zakes Mda once told me, "In our indigenous languages, we reserved the equivalent words of 'death' only for animals. For humans, we say 'She has left us,' 'He had passed,' 'She’s gone home,' 'He's gone to join the ancestors.'"
More from The New Yorker (+ overview of its past coverage of Mandela), CNN, and The New York Times. The Lede is collating reactions and remarks.

William Finnegan's Comment from The New Yorker's July 9, 1990 issue:
Everywhere Mr. Mandela went, he seemed to be occupying a subtly different dimension from the people--particularly the politicians--around him... his preternatural stamina, the command he displayed in every situation, his enormous personal presence--these qualities seemed to flow directly out of the depth of his political convictions.
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posted by ilicet at 3:25 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


He changed my life in so many ways.

Amandla!
posted by rtha at 3:25 PM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


The world is a better place for his being in it.

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posted by donnagirl at 3:28 PM on December 5, 2013


He's one of the few leaders who immediately come to mind when I am trying to think of people who have succeeded in changing the world for the better. Amazing man.

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posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:29 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:30 PM on December 5, 2013


I always got a little jolt of hope whenever I saw Mandela's face. Whatever inspired him to keep facing difficulty, and not compromising even if it meant staying imprisoned was also some sort of huge font of positivity for anyone to step into. It's pleasing to me that the good ones sometimes do get to live as long as the tyrants.

Thank you for this decent post, Matt.
posted by planetesimal at 3:30 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by brevator at 3:31 PM on December 5, 2013


One of my uncles, originally from the UK, apparently spent a few years living in South Africa before moving to Canada in the 70s. I only learned that when I was visiting last Christmas, after he had had a few drinks and started storytelling (I got the impression he was discouraged from talking about it when we were kids). Some of the stories, the tension, the violence between white and black ... it really changed my perspective on all of that, from factual history to actual reality. But I still can't imagine what it would have really felt like to live in those conditions, let alone challenge them to change.

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posted by mannequito at 3:32 PM on December 5, 2013


I can vaguely remember when he was released from prison from when I was a kid, and I've always known the cliff notes version of his life, but seeing it all laid out again as obit pieces tend to do, but now with a more adult understanding of the world... Pretty goddam staggering. RIP.
posted by sparkletone at 3:32 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by corvine at 3:32 PM on December 5, 2013


I spent some time in apartheid South Africa and was genuinelly surprised they later made the transition to a fairer society without terrible bloodshed. It wasn't perfect by Nelson basically helped to achieve a miracle. A true legend who's name will never be forgotten.

Special AKA - Free Nelson Mandela
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:33 PM on December 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


Thank you, Madiba.


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posted by droplet at 3:33 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


AMANDLA!

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posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:33 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


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As someone who lived in South Africa, but is not South African, I have seen first hand the country he changed through compassion, forgiveness, and love. And I can honestly say that he is one of the best men to have ever lived. I don't think that's hyperbole. The world would have been a very different place but for Nelson Mandela.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:34 PM on December 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


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posted by sillygwailo at 3:34 PM on December 5, 2013


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Peace on earth. Goodwill to everyone.
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posted by UseyurBrain at 3:36 PM on December 5, 2013


Thank you Tata, hamba kahle.

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posted by tyllwin at 3:38 PM on December 5, 2013


"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."

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posted by Joey Michaels at 3:38 PM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


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posted by runincircles at 3:38 PM on December 5, 2013


Farewell to a hero. Enormous love, enormous inspiration, enormous power.

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posted by lalochezia at 3:39 PM on December 5, 2013


jillithd: "The Surprising Republican Civil War That Erupted Over Nelson Mandela and Apartheid"

I forgot truly terrible Reagan was on the issue.
posted by octothorpe at 3:40 PM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


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posted by cazoo at 3:42 PM on December 5, 2013


Great job!
posted by Meatbomb at 3:42 PM on December 5, 2013


Next week's New Yorker cover
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posted by LiteOpera at 3:43 PM on December 5, 2013


jillithd: "The Surprising Republican Civil War That Erupted Over Nelson Mandela and Apartheid"

I forgot truly terrible Reagan was on the issue.


America, the UK, Israel - the three countries that supported apartheid till the end. I don't know about the other countries leaders but Thatcher was an utter turd on the matter, calling Mandela a terrorist. Tory student organizations printed posters demanding his hanging.

Today David Cameron will be talking about the world having lost a leader, etc... etc...
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posted by Mooski at 3:45 PM on December 5, 2013


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I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it
- Nelson Mandela
RIP Madiba. You were a hero to my generation, and an inspiration. A person of your grace, stature, wisdom and honor does not come often, and we are blessed to have had you
posted by darsh at 3:45 PM on December 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


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"Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose."
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RIP Madiba - you made me, finally, proud to be South African
posted by Flashman at 3:51 PM on December 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


The best way I've heard it put is - he freed the oppressed, and the oppressors.

There is nothing higher for which to aim.
posted by Devonian at 3:52 PM on December 5, 2013 [38 favorites]


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posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:54 PM on December 5, 2013


There is no . big enough.
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posted by mcoo at 3:58 PM on December 5, 2013


Well it had to happen, but the world is a poorer place today than it was yesterday.
posted by SLC Mom at 3:58 PM on December 5, 2013


Safe travels.
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posted by crayz at 4:03 PM on December 5, 2013


We are lucky to have had him with us in this past century.
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posted by trip and a half at 4:06 PM on December 5, 2013


"He was the first man among us. A great light has gone out."
posted by jcworth at 4:06 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by HastyDave at 4:08 PM on December 5, 2013


I don't think his passing is at all the same as his light going out. If anything, there's going to be a big resurgence of interest in him. Dedications, school namings, reprints of books, public displays of quotes, et cetera. His legacy will burn pretty brightly for some time to come.
posted by planetesimal at 4:08 PM on December 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


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free at last
posted by philip-random at 4:08 PM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Remember that for all he was, he was still just a man, and it is not impossible to fill the void he leaves.

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posted by klanawa at 4:09 PM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


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a tear
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Seems inadequate.
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posted by jabo at 4:18 PM on December 5, 2013


I don't usually comment on obituary threads because even if I'm thinking me too it seems like meaninless redundancy, but Nelson Mandela is different. From the shantytown exposure in college to now 25 years later he has always stood out to me as an exemplar of what human character can mean. I hope I never have to be tested the way he was, but I hope his imprint on my nature has been strong. And I wish I had a few more years of it. So, RIP, and thanks from little ole random me. I never knew you, but you have made me a better person.

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posted by dness2 at 4:19 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember the day I heard Nelson Mandela had been released from prison.

It was a Friday evening in early 1990. I was near Piggott House, the middle school girls dormitory at the United World College of South East Asia, in Singapore. A friend had just been expelled for stealing, and we were hanging out with her, trying to comfort her.

One of the local radio stations, a pop station, had their DJ announce Mandela's release on the air between songs. For some reason, my 14 year-old brain decided that it was important for me to remember the moment, the evening. It seems silly, but I made a point of archiving it, of noting the time, the place, the air temperature, the stars. 23 years later it's all still very much there.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 4:19 PM on December 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:21 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by homunculus at 4:21 PM on December 5, 2013


One of my favourite pranks: in his memoirs, Nelson recounted that his jailors would not allow any current affairs newspapers in jail because of the political content, but they let him have a subscription to The Economist, because economics is boring, of course? Hilarious.
posted by ovvl at 4:22 PM on December 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

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posted by ersatz at 4:22 PM on December 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


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posted by gerls at 4:23 PM on December 5, 2013


This is a wonderful thread, because all of the quotes people are posting have been reminding me what an amazing person he was.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:24 PM on December 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


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posted by Elly Vortex at 4:27 PM on December 5, 2013


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He leaves us a great legacy to live up to, but I'm glad that he is finally resting at peace and out of pain and that the media's Great Mandela Deathwatch can come to what I hope will be a dignified end.
posted by TwoStride at 4:29 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by hapax_legomenon at 4:34 PM on December 5, 2013


Last year on my birthday I was fortunate enough to see the British Museum's "Shakespeare: Staging the World" exhibit, which featured at the end of the displays the Robben Island Shakespeare. One of the political prisoners, Sonny Venkatrathnam, was told that he could have only one book, and chose the complete works of Shakespeare. (He later passed it off as a Bible to keep it out of the hands of the jailers, earning it the name "the Robben Island Bible".)

Venkatrathnam passed the book around to his fellow prisoners, asking them to sign their names by passages they found most meaningful. Nelson Mandela signed next to this from Julius Caesar, Act II, scene ii:
Cowards die many times before their deaths:
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
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posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:37 PM on December 5, 2013 [38 favorites]


This is giving me nostalgia for my teenage years in the 80's, when pop music like Sting, Simple Minds, U2 and Peter Gabriel opened up the world of political activism to so many people of my generation. It was through them that I learned of apartheid, of the Disappeared in South America, and the work of Amnesty International. When I got to Northwestern in '88, there was still a yearly "Rock Against Apartheid" concert. At the time, older generations (like my parents) looked on all of that as youthful naiveté, and thought nothing would come of it. But look what happened…the world paid more and more attention, more and more outcry. Mandela was freed, apartheid ended…and then as president he exceeded any expectations in working to heal his country's wounds.

"You can blow out a candle, but you can't blow out a fire.
Once the flame begins to catch, the wind will blow it higher."
--Peter Gabriel

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posted by dnash at 4:38 PM on December 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


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posted by tenpointwo at 4:38 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by phoebus at 4:39 PM on December 5, 2013


"Nelson Mandela showed us how to love rather than hate, not because he had never surrendered to rage or violence, but because he learnt that love would do a better job." - Bono (yes, I know...but I think it captures the complexity of the man.)

He's earned his rest.

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posted by dry white toast at 4:40 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, he was on the US terrorist watch list until 2008. Perspective.
posted by dry white toast at 4:41 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by longdaysjourney at 4:41 PM on December 5, 2013


May he now enjoy the peace that he was denied for much of his life.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:45 PM on December 5, 2013


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Death is before me today:
like the recovery of a sick man,
like going forth into a garden after sickness.
Death is before me today:
like the odor of myrrh,
like sitting under a sail in a good wind.
Death is before me today:
like the course of a stream;
like the return of a man from the war-galley to his house.
Death is before me today:
like the home that a man longs to see,
after years spent as a captive.

-Dispute between a man and his Ba
posted by Deoridhe at 4:46 PM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


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posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:50 PM on December 5, 2013


"It could have been that we inscribed vengeance on our banners of battle and resolved to meet brutality with brutality. But we understood that oppression dehumanizes the oppressor as it hurts the oppressed. We understood that to emulate the barbarity of the tyrant would also transform us into savages. We knew that we would sully and degrade our cause if we allowed that it should, at any stage, borrow anything from the practices of the oppressor." (Speech to the Irish Parliament)

There's so much I want to say, but the words are choking in my throat. So, simply:

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posted by Zimboe Metamonkey at 4:50 PM on December 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


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posted by newdaddy at 4:51 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by sonika at 4:51 PM on December 5, 2013


"The Surprising Republican Civil War That Erupted Over Nelson Mandela and Apartheid"

I forgot truly terrible Reagan was on the issue.

America, the UK, Israel - the three countries that supported apartheid till the end. I don't know about the other countries leaders but Thatcher was an utter turd on the matter, calling Mandela a terrorist.


Dick Cheney Didn't Regret His Vote Against Freeing Nelson Mandela, Maintained He Was A 'Terrorist'
posted by homunculus at 4:55 PM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Memories of myself as a teenager, learning about Mandela and apartheid because of Peter Gabriel's song "Biko".

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posted by billcicletta at 4:56 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by aerotive at 4:57 PM on December 5, 2013


Damn. This exploded.
Anyway:
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This song seems appropriate.
posted by Mezentian at 4:57 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by beagle at 4:58 PM on December 5, 2013


Say classy, Dick.
posted by Mezentian at 4:59 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"His body abused / But his mind is still free"

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posted by lapolla at 5:09 PM on December 5, 2013


Joe Clark, the former Canadian Prime Minister, tells a story of meeting Mandela during or shortly after the end of apartheid. Mandela was speaking to a group, and someone asked him a question which talked about the many abuses white South Africans had inflicted, and invited Mandela to rail against whites. What Mandela said was, "We have to remember how hard this is for them." Extraordinary. There's a reason that the transition from apartheid was peaceful: Nelson Mandela. It's rare that someone deserves to be called a hero. He truly was one.
posted by Dasein at 5:11 PM on December 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


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posted by fuse theorem at 5:12 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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Madiba! You will not be forgotten.
posted by Renoroc at 5:12 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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I couldn't have a better role model for resolution. Wishing peace to his family, his friends, his country and all who loved him. A king among men.
posted by vers at 5:13 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by prolific at 5:14 PM on December 5, 2013


Ngiyabonga, Madiba.

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posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:17 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May just read the following poem in the House of Commons; Mandela used to recite it for his fellow prisoners:
"Invictus" by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
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posted by gompa at 5:19 PM on December 5, 2013 [32 favorites]


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posted by windykites at 5:21 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by pulposus at 5:23 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by Melismata at 5:24 PM on December 5, 2013


When I was in grade school, my teachers and others referred to Winston Churchill (on the occasion of his death) as the Man of the Century.

43 years too late, I call bullshit on that.


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posted by Danf at 5:25 PM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's sobering to read that he was removed from the U.S. terror watch list in 2001.

It's sobering that he was ever on it.
posted by JHarris at 5:27 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


There isn't a . big enough.
posted by oneironaut at 5:34 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by gingerbeer at 5:34 PM on December 5, 2013


What an incredible human being, a bright beacon we should all aspire to be like.

Sleep sweet.

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posted by MissySedai at 5:35 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by TrialByMedia at 5:35 PM on December 5, 2013


I suspect, but cannot know, that Nelson Mandela had no room in his mind for the concept of "terrorist" as we define it. It is a word spawned of fear and hate.

I wish I was 1% the humanitarian Mandela was.
posted by maxwelton at 5:36 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by motty at 5:37 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by v9y at 5:37 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by Blue Jello Elf at 5:37 PM on December 5, 2013


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I find myself actually moved to tears and crying like a baby at this news.

Mandela has been a hero to me since I was a young man, and that was long ago.

Steel Pulse will have to provide my words, I have nothing.

Khulani amasqhawe
Awaphume axosihola
Umbuso wethu fikile
Vula manago
Sozwe sinsundo
Hlomani zikhali
Maquahw ansundo
Siye phambiili
Ilisze ngelethu
Amandla ngawethu
posted by spitbull at 5:37 PM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


My heart brims with gladness that he was born. He lives on in his works, spirit of inspiration. I'm grateful he lived a long life.

From six months of age until four and a half, as a small child, I lived under the apartheid of South Africa and Botswana, then called Bechuanaland, while my Californian father earned his PhD in geology in Johannesburg. Nannies, who came from the slum townships around Johannesburg, were my surrogate mothers, who taught me to speak Afrikaans as a first language, who held me in their laps, slept by me during naps, fed me, changed my diapers, taught me to walk. Who loved me in spite of the terrible apartheid and who I loved.

Over the years I've seen many films about the apartheid in South Africa but this one, The Power of One, is one of my very favorites because it's a hopeful film about fighting against that grotesque, widespread injustice. It's watchable, free on Youtube.

Including this joyous song, Mama Afrika, by Miriam Makeba, because the video gives a succinct history of apartheid in South Africa and, in my heart, in honor of Mandela.

Mandela was, truly, an exceptional human being. While I mourn his mortal death, I do celebrate his life.
posted by nickyskye at 5:37 PM on December 5, 2013 [33 favorites]


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A friend of mine on Twitter put it better than I could with: “The news of Nelson Mandela's death does not sadden me because if ever there was a life that not wasted it was his.”

A truly great human being has passed. Farewell, Madiba.
posted by acb at 5:37 PM on December 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


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posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 5:38 PM on December 5, 2013


Even more sobering when you realise that it wasn't 2001 that he was removed from the terrorist watchlist but 2008.
posted by motty at 5:40 PM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


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posted by billiebee at 5:43 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by zoo at 5:44 PM on December 5, 2013


My first arrest was protesting for my college to divest from apartheid South Africa. There are so many ways in which the anti-apartheid movement inspired my life of activism.

Amandla.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:49 PM on December 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


Amandla ngawethu!

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posted by allthinky at 5:54 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by kinnakeet at 6:00 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by mayurasana at 6:04 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by mordax at 6:14 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by xorry at 6:16 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by Anitanola at 6:17 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by FireSpy at 6:17 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by vibrotronica at 6:19 PM on December 5, 2013


I've been crying off and on since I heard the news. It had to come soon, I know, but it's still a shock.

In the early 1980s, as a young teen, I visited South Africa - an amazingly beautiful place. At a colleague of my father's, I made fast friends with the daughter of the house. We went for a walk. Under a tree in a nearby field, two black men in blue overalls were being questioned by police. Something happened, and the policemen began beating on them with nightsticks. I was shocked to the core, but mostly at the indifference of my new friend. After getting home, I participated in the anti-Apartheid movement as much as I could pre-internet in a tiny town in northern Sweden. We wrote letters to politicians, arranged torch-marches, learned and sang all the protest songs. I was in the U.S. then, but remember vividly 1990 when he was released, and later listening to a South African friend in college talk about going home and working on building a better country with him as the leader.

While not perfect (who is?) he was a true leader, a humanitarian, and an inspiration to the world. I'm terribly sad that he's gone, but his life had meaning way beyond his lifetime. We will remember him fondly, and hopefully he will continue to inspire us to be better, more resilient, and braver in our own lives.
posted by gemmy at 6:20 PM on December 5, 2013 [14 favorites]


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posted by quazichimp at 6:29 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by ambrosia at 6:30 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:31 PM on December 5, 2013


I found a link on Twitter to his first television appearance in 1961 as an early apartheid fighter.
posted by mathowie at 6:31 PM on December 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


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posted by jontyjago at 6:38 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by goml at 6:39 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by mgrrl at 6:40 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by domnit at 6:41 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by jackmakrl at 6:44 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by Cookiebastard at 6:52 PM on December 5, 2013


I remember watching his release from prison, with my three year old son by my side. I was trying to explain to him why it was so important, and why I might have seemed upset, though he wasn't too bothered, and I'm sure he doesn't remember. When Mandela first greeted the crowd with 'Amandla!' I swear to god my hair stood on end. It was a glorious, glorious day.

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posted by jokeefe at 6:53 PM on December 5, 2013 [14 favorites]


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posted by Cash4Lead at 6:54 PM on December 5, 2013


Wow, anyone else catch John Lewis talking about Mandela on Rachel Maddow? Powerful stuff.
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:58 PM on December 5, 2013


It's interesting reading the newspaper articles of the period. Would a paper even dare to call Mandela a "jailed leader" rather than "detained insurgent" nowadays?

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posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:59 PM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


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What an amazingly strong, visionary,courageous, forgiving human being.
posted by Fibognocchi at 7:02 PM on December 5, 2013


What a gift to the world to have had him in it.


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posted by theora55 at 7:14 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by raysmj at 7:20 PM on December 5, 2013


As sad as this is, the social media and IRL reaction has been so much more heartening than all the Twitter jokey hoax crap that has been going on lately.

Also, as someone wrote on Facebook, not many activists get to live to 95. What an amazing story. RIP.
posted by sweetkid at 7:21 PM on December 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


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posted by DynamiteToast at 7:21 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by MelanieL at 7:26 PM on December 5, 2013


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I was still a boy when Mandela was released from prison.

I have always admired him for his strength and conviction.

It was just another sign that the world was slowly moving towards justice during the end of many dark eras of our collective human past.

I will continue to admire Mandela and hope to emulate him as I can.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 7:37 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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Would that he could have lived another 95 years.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:43 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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I'm in South Africa right now, strangely enough, and seeing how imperfect it is now makes me realize how remarkable Mandela was and how incredible his success was.
posted by raeka at 7:48 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Onion even manages a bit of poignancy: Nelson Mandela Becomes First Politician To Be Missed
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:50 PM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


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posted by Zonker at 7:51 PM on December 5, 2013


I remember being a kid and being sure he would never make it out of prison alive. Times really CAN change.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:58 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by koucha at 8:00 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by firstdrop at 8:02 PM on December 5, 2013


The Onion even manages a bit of poignancy: Nelson Mandela Becomes First Politician To Be Missed

That link is in the post!
posted by crossoverman at 8:20 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by RakDaddy at 8:22 PM on December 5, 2013



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posted by Herodios at 8:25 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by klausness at 8:31 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by Mister Bijou at 8:34 PM on December 5, 2013


I feel so privileged to have lived contemporaneously with such a giant of a man, humanity at its best.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:38 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:42 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by one teak forest at 8:45 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by Lafe at 8:52 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by kreestar at 8:56 PM on December 5, 2013


And to think, he lived out his natural life. Not common amongst his tiny cohort of moral standard-bearers.

In late '93 or so, right as Clinton lifted sanctions, a group of people interested in promoting economic cooperation with post-apartheid S. Africa had some shirts printed by my shop to be given out at a ceremony that Mandela was to have attended, and I was told that he'd be given one of the shirts. I don't know if that is true, as we never heard from those folks again after they picked up their order, but I hope so.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:57 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by northtwilight at 9:27 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:27 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by sarcasticah at 9:30 PM on December 5, 2013


Been a lurker since forever. Many a times I felt the need to join and comment, but didn't. This is different. Mandela was a giant human being who gave so many people hope, that not all is lost and that there is a way forward without violence or intolerance. I just wanted to come here and pay my respects. I don't know of a better place to drop a dot in his memory. Rest in peace.

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posted by Tipsy Metaphysics at 10:05 PM on December 5, 2013 [15 favorites]


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posted by Pseudology at 10:51 PM on December 5, 2013


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Ludicrously, the New York Times headline today mourned Mandela as a "peaceful liberator". Mandela was not shy about his endorsement of armed struggle. When charged with treason, he gave this speech to the court at the start of his trial:
I am the first accused. I hold a bachelor’s degree in arts and practised as an attorney in Johannesburg for a number of years in partnership with Oliver Tambo. I am a convicted prisoner serving five years for leaving the country without a permit and for inciting people to go on strike at the end of May 1961. …

Some of the things so far told to the court are true and some are untrue. I do not, however, deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by the whites.

I admit immediately that I was one of the persons who helped to form Umkhonto we Sizwe. … I, and the others who started the organisation, felt that without violence there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the government. We chose to defy the law.

We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and then the government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence. …

We of the ANC had always stood for a non-racial democracy, and we shrank from any action which might drive the races further apart. But the hard facts were that 50 years of non-violence had brought the African people nothing but more and more repressive legislation, and fewer and fewer rights. By this time violence had, in fact, become a feature of the South African political scene.

There had been violence in 1957 when the women of Zeerust were ordered to carry passes; there was violence in 1958 with the enforcement of cattle culling in Sekhukhuneland; there was violence in 1959 when the people of Cato Manor protested against pass raids; there was violence in 1960 when the government attempted to impose Bantu authorities in Pondoland. Each disturbance pointed to the inevitable growth among Africans of the belief that violence was the only way out - it showed that a government which uses force to maintain its rule teaches the oppressed to use force to oppose it.

I came to the conclusion that as violence in this country was inevitable, it would be unrealistic to continue preaching peace and non-violence. This conclusion was not easily arrived at. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle. I can only say that I felt morally obliged to do what I did. …

Political division, based on colour, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another. The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs it will not change that policy.

This then is what the ANC is fighting. Their struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and their own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live. During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.

But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
To remember him as a "peaceful liberator" demeans the struggle of Mandela and his comrades.
posted by robcorr at 11:16 PM on December 5, 2013 [27 favorites]


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posted by dsword at 11:22 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by hangingbyathread at 11:23 PM on December 5, 2013


You know, I'm happy for bastards like Cheney to call him a terrorist - as someone pointed out on Twitter earlier, it might serve to remind people that he was a fighter. Apartheid wasn't ended through fluffy love and cuddles. Mandela fought.

I'm not a pacifist. I believe that there are some things in this world worth fighting for, even worth killing and dying for. And when you're fighting a totalitarian state, it's what works. There have been plenty of "freedom fighters", plenty of successful ones. What made Nelson Mandela truly exceptional was what he did when the struggle was won - forgiveness, openness, acknowledgement that the defeated had lost something and that in order for progress to be maintained, a new country needed to be built. And he did it.

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posted by Jimbob at 11:23 PM on December 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


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posted by ecourbanist at 11:24 PM on December 5, 2013


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posted by ocular shenanigans at 11:36 PM on December 5, 2013


Well done.
posted by Hicksu at 11:55 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


a new country needed to be built. And he did it.

Yes! And the South African constitution is a thing of beauty.
posted by robcorr at 11:56 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


That whole being judged by the quality of your enemies thing seems to be working out remarkably well here.
posted by Artw at 12:04 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


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posted by ltl at 12:29 AM on December 6, 2013


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posted by elpapacito at 12:44 AM on December 6, 2013


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posted by chance at 1:01 AM on December 6, 2013


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posted by fraula at 1:34 AM on December 6, 2013


Mandela was a colossus. A once in a generation statesman who in recent times can be compared perhaps only with Gandhi.

I spent a lot of time going to and through South Africa around 1989/1990 and there was a huge sense of fear among white South Africans about what would happen if - and people really knew it was when - things changed. They knew it would get worse before it got better, but they feared it would become like Zimbabwe - a country whose independence in 1980 had led to freedom, but also the replacement of a foreign colonial power with a dictator intent on dividing the country into those who supported him and those who didn't, in which poor black citizens were still cannon fodder.

The UK and the US weighed against Mandela, largely for strategic reasons in the end. But 1989 saw a chain of events that changed things quickly. Anti-apartheid sentiment, especially in the UK, was rife. Margaret Thatcher was on her way out. But crucially, the Berlin Wall fell, which meant apartheid South Africa's strategic role against nominally communist (and Soviet-supported) Mozambique and Angola evaporated. Both countries would quickly go on to end their civil wars. South Africa had provided support for the British against Mugabe but British interest in Zimbabwe also diminished as things worsened.

South Africa isn't perfect. Its current political leaders are corrupt heads of a fairer system, where previously there were straighter men at the top of a corrupt system. The pace of change is too slow for poor black South Africans, and the cronyism and corruption of the current leadership confirms some of the worst fears of white South Africans. But apartheid ended nearly 20 years ago and South Africa thrives. It has hope.

This is Mandela's legacy. The leadership he provided in that difficult period of transition when so much could have gone wrong was remarkable for its deftness, compassion sophistication and focus on the future. All the more remarkable when one considers that he was not a career politician in the traditional sense - he had been incarcerated for nearly three decades. The leadership he provided over Southern Africa even after he left office was also notable. His impact on the region - two of the three winners of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership have come from countries that border South Africa - remains. African countries continue to have leadership issues but Mandela provided a template for an entire generation of presidents.

RIP Nelson Mandela.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:54 AM on December 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Dennis Goldberg was just interviewed on the radio. He said that Mandela was openly challenging the judge to martyr them when he said:
I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.

But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
For whatever reason the judge not to pass out the death sentences that were expected by the defendants' lawyers, the state and white media and instead gave them all life sentences, which was greeted by great happiness by all the accused.
The judge said 'death is the appropriate sentence, but...' and we smiled a little bit, and then he said life sentences for all of us on three or four counts and we laughed and what a relief. Just imagine what South Africa would have been like had the apartheid government had carried out death sentences, not just on Nelson Mandela, but on Mbeki and Sisulu, on all of us.
It is very likely that Mandela's words were the reason for this unusual departure from the relentless state sanctioned murder that was the justice system under apartheid, and it is certain that his words were the reason for his international fame. There were plenty of other people who were killed or locked up indefinitely in apartheid South Africa.

Goldberg also mentioned the astronomical figures for killings by the so called security forces. Between Madela's release from prison and his inauguration as president over 10,000 people were killed by a 'security forces gone crazy' (1990-94).
Our media still talk about the 'bloodless revolution', meaning not many whites died. Black peoples' blood doesn't seem to count for the media.
He said that Mandela hoped that his example would cause big business, international corporations, rich whites, professionals and political elites to realise what an act of generosity the reconciliation that he promoted was. Not just from Nelson Mandela, but from 'our whole people'. However, Goldberg said that the new rich, the whites and the current political elites have not learned this lesson and have not had to sacrifice anything, that the new regime is pretty much the same as the old regime from the point of view of the poor. The rich are paid too much and the poor are paid too little. Society is imbalanced.
Our people are getting angry. The legacy of Nelson Mandela is how do we overcome this? We have to overcome it.
I was pondering this morning how much Nelson Mandela became a figurehead for the corrupt ANC and how little he liked their political machinations and dealing with all the other cretins who wanted to be associated with him not because they believed what he believed, but because it would look good for them. The struggle in South Africa was/is just like the struggle for equality in the rest of the world. Mandela represented the best in the human spirit, but I am sure he would recognise that there is still work to do.
posted by asok at 3:10 AM on December 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


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posted by How the runs scored at 3:57 AM on December 6, 2013


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posted by Chanther at 4:00 AM on December 6, 2013


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posted by Gelatin at 4:54 AM on December 6, 2013


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I remember as a teenager going to the Mandela Freedom concert at Wembley just after he was released. The ovation he got when he walked onto the stage was amazing. It just went on and on and on.
posted by lloyder at 5:02 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


He was described by a US-based early biographer this morning, in relation to how long he was feared by the US government as:

"[a man] on the wrong side of our version of history."

Took quite a while for the US to get its head out of it's ass over apartheid and lose the Cold-War colored glasses.



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posted by tilde at 5:04 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by Karmeliet at 5:48 AM on December 6, 2013


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posted by angrycat at 6:09 AM on December 6, 2013


The forgiving his enemies part is the boggling thing to me - the enormity of forgiving the truly evil people who tried to kill you, who imprisoned you, and who tortured and killed your friends and family - that is something that fills me with awe. I am ashamed to say I have trouble shedding anger at petty grudges and slights.

It also gives me hope. Sometimes in today's political climate, it seems there is no bridging the growing divide. But it's a divide that seems trifling compared to the reality that was the apartheid South Africa. I truly wish and hope that as the world contemplates the life of Mandela, some lessons can be learned.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:13 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


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posted by ZeusHumms at 6:16 AM on December 6, 2013


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What a towering inspirational human being.

Mandela's character, and the fact that he was so clearly, consistently, and firmly on the right side of history, confirmed to me the evils of colonialism, imperialism, and racism.

The more interesting question, to me however, is are there any right leaning political figures who are even close to universally beloved as Mandela was?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:55 AM on December 6, 2013


Contemporary figures, or figures from the past 100 years?
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:10 AM on December 6, 2013


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Nothing clever to say.

The world has lost a father, and it feels a poorer place tonight.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 7:13 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by cass at 7:45 AM on December 6, 2013


Not only did the U.S. have him on a watch list for decades, but the CIA had a direct role in his 1962 arrest.

The man certainly refused to hold a grudge.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:57 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's been a restaurant in my part of Brooklyn named "Madiba" after him - it's apparently becoming the locus for a memorial.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:25 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by sotonohito at 8:38 AM on December 6, 2013



There's been a restaurant in my part of Brooklyn named "Madiba" after him - it's apparently becoming the locus for a memorial.


I've been there! It's like deliriously good food.
posted by sweetkid at 8:54 AM on December 6, 2013


Like others here I cut my Canadian activist teeth on anti-apartheid issues, speaking up at the Generl Council of the United Church of Canada with other young people in 1986 when we were mindlessly debating a motion to divest our Church's investments in South Africa. One of the young voices at that gathering finally spoke up, evoking Madiba and Desmond Tutu. She said "if we are to hold on to our investments soa as to have some influence in South African politics can someone please give me the plan for how we plan to shift National Party policy to enable freedom and democracy?"

The assembly feel silent, someone called the question and we voted to divest.

Years later, in 2010 when I got to tour the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg I felt like I had walked with Mandela's own journey. I knew then I was vindicated in the position we took in the mid 1980s against all of the respectable people in my life who poo-pooed the idea of divestment. We were right, and I felt deep in my heart the need to let them know that we were right back then. I was angry in retrospect that this conversation had even happened, angry for the loss of lives, for the multi-generational trauma, for the suppression and oppression of people in the name of profit and the control of many by a few. Being a Canadian anti-apartheid activist as a teenager made me acutely aware of the violations of justice in the world.

He is my hero in many ways, is Nelson Mandela. I think Desmond Tutu summed it up beautifully in this moving tribute to his transformation and remarkable dignity and magnanimity.

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posted by salishsea at 9:02 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by Cpt. The Mango at 9:04 AM on December 6, 2013


Watch me flip and rip on the freedom tip
Open your mind, see the point of the ice pick
I stand tall, while my brothers still choose to crawl
Black power, it's in effect you all, but you don't understand
You're still a slave to the man, prepare for revolution

Some sucker say we're free, I gotta disagree
Half my posse's in the penitentiary
So, I'm a drop and kick the science with defiance
Because, I have no alliance with suckas who choose
Not to act black, when they are black
Get out my face with that, you better ease back

Because Mandela did twenty seven hard ones
Not in a windowed room, but in a barred one
While his wife had tears in her eyes
The man is a hero, he needs a Nobel prize
But that will never happen
So I'm gonna keep rappin', freein' my brothers' minds
From their entrapment
To silence the Ice, they'll probably put a bullet in me
But I'm prepared to die and Mandela's free.


- Ice T - Prepared To Die Lyrics
posted by quin at 9:41 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


(T-T)

I feel honored to have shared the world at the same time as this man.
posted by _paegan_ at 10:00 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by peripathetic at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2013


Kind of a short piece, but from Think Progress - Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most People Won’t Talk About.

it really is worth remembering the ideals that made him what he was, and why people thought he was great. And frankly, it's no wonder he frustrated Conservatives so much and why many in power in America (both D and R) didn't truly embrace him until death.



if even then
posted by edgeways at 10:52 AM on December 6, 2013


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posted by Golden Eternity at 10:54 AM on December 6, 2013


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posted by datarose at 11:29 AM on December 6, 2013


Ta-Nehisi Coates: Apartheid's Useful Idiots
For many years, a large swath of this country failed Nelson Mandela, failed its own alleged morality, and failed the majority of people living in South Africa. We have some experience with this. Still, it's easy to forget William F. Buckley—intellectual founder of the modern right—effectively worked as a press agent for apartheid.
...
Buckley's racket as an American paid propagandist for white supremacy would be repeated over the years in conservative circles. ... The roster includes Grover Norquist, Jack Abramoff, Jesse Helms, and Senator Jeff Flake.
...
When you see a Tea Party protestor waving the flag of slavery in front of the home of the first black president, understand that this instinct has been cultivated. It is still, at this very hour, being cultivated:
He won the country's first free presidential elections in 1994 and worked to unite a scarred and anxious nation. He opened up the economy to the world, and a black middle class came to life. After a single term, he voluntarily left power at the height of his popularity. Most African rulers didn't do that, but Mandela said, "I don't want a country like ours to be led by an octogenarian. I must step down while there are one or two people who admire me."
That is the Wall Street Journal, offering a shameful, condescending "tribute" to one of the great figures of our time. Understand the racism here. It is certainly true that "most African rulers" do not willingly hand over power. That is because most human leaders do not hand over power. What racism does is take a basic human tendency and make it it the property of ancestry. As though Franco never happened. As though Hitler and Stalin never happened. As though Pinochet never happened. As though we did not prop up Mobutu. As though South Carolina was not, for most of its history, ruled by Big Men as nefarious and vicious as any "African ruler."

To not see this requires a special disposition, a special blindness, a special shamelessness, a special idiocy.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


What's amazing to me is how it is a lens for everyone's own thing. Some on my FB feed are very anxious to point out that the US was "against" Mandela at one point, etc. Santorum is saying he's like Mandela because he's fighting Obamacare. Fascinating.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:13 PM on December 6, 2013


Charles Pierce: RIP Nelson Mandela - Amandla
posted by homunculus at 12:15 PM on December 6, 2013


Santorum is saying he's like Mandela because he's fighting Obamacare.

A Brief Moment Of Derpitude
posted by homunculus at 12:17 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


12 Little-Known Facts That Show the True Greatness of Mandela
posted by homunculus at 12:25 PM on December 6, 2013


Chris Bertram - Mandela Sanitized


"The great Mandela is dead. A political prisoner for 27 years, a courageous fighter against racism and injustice, and finally a great statesman. There is much to remember there and much to mourn. Those who suffered under apartheid, the exiles, those who were active in solidarity overseas: all will have their memories of the struggle. Some of their voices will be heard. But sadly, they have to share a stage with the official voices of commemoration: politicians and others who cared little for the ANC or who actively opposed it. In the UK it is sickening to hear eulogies from the braying Tories, the Bullingdon-club types and ex-members of the Federation of Conservative Students who sang “hang Nelson Mandela” in the 1980s. No doubt, in the US, there will be some prominent Reaganites who utter similar word of appreciation. There’s an implicit narrative emerging that everyone recognized his greatness after 1990. But this isn’t so. The warbloggers and Tea Partiers (and their followers in the UK) were vilifying him when he criticized US policy under George W. Bush or said something on Palestine that deviated from the standard US-media line. Just as with Martin Luther King, we are witnessing the invention of a sanitized version of the man, focused on reconciliation with those who hated him – and who still hate those like him – and suppressing his wider commitment to the fight against social and global injustice."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:33 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Our heads are bloodied but unbowed.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 12:39 PM on December 6, 2013


.

The world is a better place because he was in it. May he rest in peace.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:54 PM on December 6, 2013


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posted by boofidies at 2:13 PM on December 6, 2013


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posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:14 PM on December 6, 2013


Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then - "If we turn the late South African leader into a nonthreatening moral icon, we’ll forget a key lesson from his life: America isn’t always a force for freedom."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:22 PM on December 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yesterday, I had the rare and unexpected opportunity to have lunch with Margaret Marshall, the former chief justice of the Massachusetts State Supreme Court, particularly famed for writing the court decision that declared that the Massachusetts constitution does not permit the state to deny citizens the right to same-sex marriage. She was also born and raised in apartheid South Africa, a white child of privilege who later became a champion for equal rights. When I heard the news of Mandela's passing a few hours later, I could not help seeing the profound ripples through history he had made, not just in South Africa, but also for the millions around the world affected and inspired by his unbending dedication to social justice and human rights.
posted by Diagonalize at 4:38 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


we’ll forget a key lesson from his life: America isn’t always a force for freedom.

I think the lessons taught by Mandela are much more profound than that, and rise above petty national concerns. In fact, that's an important lesson itself; humanity is more important than race or nationality.
posted by JHarris at 4:55 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


From ßehemoth by Peter Watts:

They'd been a typical third-world country in so many ways, enslaved and oppressed and brutalised like all the others. Why couldn't they have just thrown off their shackles in the usual way, embraced violent rebellion with a side order of blood-soaked retribution? What kind of crazy-ass people, after feeling the boot on their necks for generations, struck back at their oppressors with—wait for it— reconciliation panels? It made no sense.

Rest in peace, champion of forgiveness that transcends logic, mercy which the world could use more of.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, I'm happy for bastards like Cheney to call him a terrorist - as someone pointed out on Twitter earlier, it might serve to remind people that he was a fighter. Apartheid wasn't ended through fluffy love and cuddles. Mandela fought.

It's ironic to think that, as evidently wrong and repugnant as the views of the old Right (including the young David Cameron) who condemned Mandela as a terrorist were, they were less inaccurate than the views of the David Camerons and Nigel Farages of today who fawn over an imagined apolitical, beatific Magical Negro Mandela best describable as “Princess Diana, if she had been an old black dude”.
posted by acb at 7:00 PM on December 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


You will make out that apartheid was just some sort of evil mystical space disease that suddenly fell from the heavens and settled on all of us, had us all, black or white, in its thrall, until Mandela appeared from the ether to redeem us. You will try to make Mandela a Magic Negro and you will fail. You will say that Mandela stood above all for forgiveness whilst scuttling swiftly over the details of the perversity that he had the grace to forgive.
posted by rtha at 7:24 PM on December 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most People Won’t Talk About
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:24 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think there's been a misunderstanding, but just in case, I think I should be clear about my above comment --

I wasn't trying to say that Mandela wasn't striving for the advancement of his race and a better future for his people in South Africa. It's that he spoke for all the poor and oppressed, although of course he had a personal interest in his own people and nation.

His actions and words put the United States, which has long tried to claim it's an unequivocal force for good in the world, to shame. But that's not just an argument for the US to hear, it's one for the whole world. We're just particularly guilty.

If this doesn't sound like it fits with Mandela life, I am open to correction.
posted by JHarris at 10:19 PM on December 6, 2013


Follow Mandela's example, and roar with laughter at all this rightwing fawning
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:01 AM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I had dinner with my family tonight, and my step-father managed to surprise me.
He's not progressive at all, and is very much of the 'boat people deserve to drown if they skip the queue' sort of middle Australia.

Apparently he went to South Africa in the late 1960 or early 1970s and found himself disgusted with the way the whites treated the blacks back then, as sub-humans worthy only of abuse.

I think the last time anything related to South Africa shocked me was watching Louis Theroux in Jo-berg, when the two gang-bangers were talking about microwaving babies.

It just reframed the pre-1990s era for me in a way few things have.
posted by Mezentian at 5:38 AM on December 7, 2013


Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most People Won’t Talk About

I figured this list was going to be all "Mandela believed in Eugenics" or "In his early days Mandela wanted to cleanse South Africa of whitey with blood and fire" not "Mandela acted and believed pretty much like everyone not in the USA".
posted by Mezentian at 5:42 AM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


yeah or as I thought: Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most Right Wing People Won’t Talk About
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:57 AM on December 7, 2013


*sigh*
Well, I popped into some of the rightwing websites.
Free Republic has an entire thread on the fact that Obama offered gratitude to Nelson Mandela at White House tree lighting.... that's it. Really. There were at least two other threads on the mainpage.

And there was this bon mot:
I think Thatcher deserved just as much respect as Mandela...
More.... A billion times more.


My "favourite" white power site has a few too. You'll be shocked that they are celebrating his death, calling him an Osama level terrorist and "a genocidal maniac" predicting a race war.
I'm not sure if there's any logic there, since you'd think if he was inclined to genocide he might have risen to the presidency on a tide of blood and not on hope at the ballot box.

It actually devolves quickly from that point, pretty much in the way you'd expect.

Like Camelot they are silly places and you should not go there.
posted by Mezentian at 6:13 AM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bob Herbert on Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013)
I knew that the tributes would be pouring in immediately from around the world, and I also knew that most of them would try to do to Mandela what has been done to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: turn him into a lovable, platitudinous cardboard character whose commitment to peace and willingness to embrace enemies could make everybody feel good. This practice is a deliberate misreading of history guaranteed to miss the point of the man.

The primary significance of Mandela and King was not their willingness to lock arms or hold hands with their enemies. It was their unshakable resolve to do whatever was necessary to bring those enemies to their knees.

...

These were not warm and fuzzy individuals, fantasy figures for the personal edification of the clueless and the cynical. They were hard-core revolutionaries committed with every ounce of their being to the wholesale transformation of their societies. When giants like Mandela and King are stripped of their revolutionary essence and remade as sentimental stick figures to be gushed over by all and sundry, the atrocities that sparked their fury and led to their commitment can be overlooked, left safely behind, even imagined never to have occurred.

It’s a way for people to sidestep the everlasting shame of past atrocities and their own collusion in the widespread horrors of racism that are still with us.
The Right Wing’s Campaign To Discredit And Undermine Mandela, In One Timeline

(both links via LGM)
posted by tonycpsu at 9:20 AM on December 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


Castro's defeat of the South African army in Angola and support of anti-apartheid and other liberation movements in southern Africa were crucial to ending apartheid and colonialism in Africa.

Cuba’s Heroic Role Against Apartheid South Africa and US-Backed Mercenaries in Angola

Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro: A Relationship Built On Mutual Admiration


Cuba and the South African anti-apartheid struggle


"Castro could regard himself as father of Namibia's independence and as the one who put an end to colonialism in Africa" -- W. Freeman, ambassador, U.S. State Department, Department for African Policies

"The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice unparalleled for its principled and selfless character - We in Africa are used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up our territory or subvert our sovereignty. It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defence of one of us - The defeat of the apartheid army was an inspiration to the struggling people in South Africa! Without the defeat of Cuito Cuanavale our organizations would not have been unbanned! The defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale has made it possible for me to be here today! Cuito Cuanavale was a milestone in the history of the struggle for southern African liberation!" -- Nelson Mandela
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:59 AM on December 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


My "favourite" white power site has a few too. You'll be shocked that they are celebrating his death, calling him an Osama level terrorist and "a genocidal maniac" predicting a race war.

Actually, I find their honest hatred a refreshing contrast to the hypocritical fawning from other quarters.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:41 AM on December 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by 404 Not Found at 5:42 PM on December 7, 2013


ESPY Awards - Nelson Mandela - a touching short documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman about the 19995 rugby cup
posted by madamjujujive at 7:05 PM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The very definition of chutzpah: Syria's Assad calls Mandela's life a lesson to tyrants
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:43 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chinese mourn Mandela; ask awkward questions about own dissidents
posted by homunculus at 3:37 PM on December 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


SCMP: South Africa's 'born free' generation living the life Mandela dreamed of
Sitting in her comfortable suburban living room 45 minutes east of Johannesburg, Nokuthula Magubane, 18, was doing something close to unthinkable to older generations of black South Africans - she was affectionately praising Afrikaans.

"It's such a laid-back and beautiful language," she said.
[...]
Such feelings are common among members of Magubane's generation, known as the "born frees" because they were born after the end of apartheid, or just before it ended, and are too young to remember it.
[...]
Older South Africans say they are apathetic and apolitical, unaware of the history of the struggle that made their lives better.

But the born-frees have another name as well - the Mandela generation - and they insist that their determination to look to the future and not the past is the greatest tribute they can pay him.
[...]
"It seems young people may be developing deeper relationships across historic dividing lines, beyond just interaction," last year's Barometer reported.

Born-frees are also overwhelmingly optimistic, the Barometer found.

"Now there are no boundaries," said Miles Mabaane, 18, a resident of Vosloorus, southeast of Johannesburg. "We young people have the potential to come up with new strategies of how to save the country, how to do things better, how to accommodate everybody."
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:26 PM on December 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by glhaynes at 8:31 PM on December 8, 2013


The Robben Island Shakespeare
Covering the volume in colorful, religious Diwali cards, celebrating the Hindu festival of lights, Venkatrathnam convinced a gullible warder that it was his bible, and when he was transferred to the small single-cell section where Nelson Mandela, among others, was kept, he took it with him. He then circulated the book to his fellow prisoners in the single cells, asking them to mark their favorite passages from Shakespeare with their signature and the date. Between 1975 and 1978 thirty-three of Venkatrathnam’s fellow prisoners signed the book.
Sonny Venkatrathnam and Kadir Hassim
Billy Nair
Govan Mbeki
Nelson Mandela
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:16 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


When Baroness Thatcher passed away earlier this year, there was a reminded point that she described Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist”. Technically she was correct, in that the ANC did explode bombs as part of their political strategy. Mandela eventually understood that hate would not work in the long run, and went on to renounce violence.

Thatcher and Mandela were the two most influential politicians of the late 20th Century who died in 2013. There are two important differences between them:

1) Learning from your experiences and moving forward
2) Leaving the world a better place after your time in power

Nelson Mandela was not a god-like being, he was not a super-human being. He was a human being like all of us are, although he did display a divine sense of patience and insight, which we should all aspire towards. The way it should be.
posted by ovvl at 8:04 PM on December 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Been reminded of this that, former Tory MP, Louise Mensch tweeted when Thatcher died

Pygmies of the left so predictably embarrassing yourselves, know this: not a one of your leaders will ever be globally mourned like her.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:04 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, SNAP.
posted by localroger at 5:17 AM on December 10, 2013


Pygmies of the left so predictably embarrassing yourselves, know this: not a one of your leaders will ever be globally mourned like her.

Well, we may not have her mourners' money, but we make up for it in sheer numbers of mourners.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:34 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


know this: not a one of your leaders will ever be globally mourned like her.

too true
posted by philip-random at 10:14 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Obama greets leaders, including Raul Castro, at Mandela memorial
posted by homunculus at 10:22 AM on December 10, 2013


If Nelson Mandela really had won, he wouldn't be seen as a universal hero
--Slavoj Zizek
United States foreign policy elaborated a detailed strategy of how to exert damage control by way of rechanneling a popular uprising into acceptable parliamentary-capitalist constraints – as was done successfully in South Africa after the fall of apartheid regime, in Philippines after the fall of Marcos, in Indonesia after the fall of Suharto and elsewhere. At this precise conjuncture, radical emancipatory politics faces its greatest challenge: how to push things further after the first enthusiastic stage is over, how to make the next step without succumbing to the catastrophe of the "totalitarian" temptation – in short, how to move further from Mandela without becoming Mugabe.

If we want to remain faithful to Mandela's legacy, we should thus forget about celebratory crocodile tears and focus on the unfulfilled promises his leadership gave rise to. We can safely surmise that, on account of his doubtless moral and political greatness, he was at the end of his life also a bitter old man, well aware how his very political triumph and his elevation into a universal hero was the mask of a bitter defeat. His universal glory is also a sign that he really didn't disturb the global order of power.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:10 PM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mark Steel:

“Tributes have flooded in from across the Roman Empire, led by King Herod who said ‘It is a sad day for Nazareth, and a sad day for Rome’.”

"Many of the official tributes to Nelson Mandela, such as the one from David Cameron, have emphasised his ability to forgive, and his apparent rejection of bitterness is part of what made him extraordinary. But the reason his capacity for forgiveness towards the rulers of apartheid mattered, was that he’d organised opposition to it, took up arms against it and overthrew it."
posted by runincircles at 2:55 PM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Picture gallery: A Journey Through Apartheid in Nelson Mandela’s South Africa
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:45 PM on December 10, 2013


The Daily Show: President Obama raises eyebrows after shaking hands with Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's funeral.
posted by homunculus at 12:30 PM on December 12, 2013


A moving and lovely flash-crowd gospel song in South Africa, in honor of Mandela, sung by the Soweto Gospel Choir.
posted by nickyskye at 12:57 PM on December 17, 2013


While that was moving and lovely, it was more of an advert for Woolworths than a flash crowd.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:12 PM on December 17, 2013


Further grist for the conspiracy mill, I suppose:
Nelson Mandela 'received weapons training from Mossad agents in 1962'
Secret letter lodged in Israeli state archives reveals South African icon underwent training under an assumed identity

Here's an image of the original document.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation denies the alleged connection, but I think it's interesting that Israel tried to intervene in Mandela's trial for treason two years later.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:50 PM on December 22, 2013


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