I was watching the news last week when word came that Nelson Mandela had passed away. A giant of a man and leader he changed the way people think and he changed South Africa. Once a repressive state ruled by a tyrannical white minority under a system of segregation called Apartheid, Mandela led the African National Congress’ opposition and he spent 27 years as a political prisoner.
Influenced by the non -violent philosophy of Ghandi he successfully led the movement to dismantle Apartheid peacefully and then courageously established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose mission was not to punish or take vengeance.
I’m old enough to remember the movements here for divestiture. This was a way to put pressure on South Africa by forcing investors, pension plans and endowments to sell their investments in South Africa. Students on college campuses led sit-ins and demonstrations to convince their Boards of Trustees and others to divest themselves of stock, bonds and other South African related investments. When legislation was passed in Congress enacting trade sanctions the bill was vetoed by President Reagan and leading American racists like Jesse Helms and Dick Cheney led the fight for the white government of South Africa.
Justice prevailed however and Nelson Mandela was elected President of that nation after it reorganized. He passed away after a long and very distinguished life having touched souls all around the globe. Rest well Mandiba, you’ve earned it.