9
Dec

How Mandela Changed South Africa

Written on December 9, 2013 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Africa, News

Nelson Mandela was the father of the current democratic South Africa that replaced the odious apartheid state.

His primary legacy is a multiracial South Africa under the rule of law. Mandela’s governance was characterized by racial reconciliation, especially with white Afrikaners, which he shrewdly promoted through the use of symbols. Like President Obama, Mandela sought “teachable moments.” For example, he publicly supported the predominately white national rugby team. He took tea with Betsie Verwoerd, the widow of Hendrick Verwoerd, the chief architect of apartheid. He avoided African National Congress (ANC) and black African triumphalism; there was no wholesale change in Afrikaner place names during his presidency.

He insisted on the rule of law. Apartheid may have been a crime against humanity, but there was no extra-legal “revolutionary justice.” Instead there was a Truth and Reconciliation Commission under the presidency of Archbishop Desmond Tutu that offered amnesty in return for confession to liberation fighters and members of the apartheid security services. Mandela assiduously observed the new constitution that enshrined the strongest protection of individual and minority rights anywhere in the world. Alone among African states, South Africa permits gay marriage, though much of the population remains homophobic.  Read more…

As published in The Council on Foreign Relations on December 5th, 2013  http://www.cfr.org

 

A statue of Nelson Mandela stands outside the gates of Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison) near Paarl

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