Friday, December 06, 2013

The Mandela Legacy

Less than a day after the sad death of Nelson Mandela I have already seen two Facebook friends share onward photo comments that slam David Cameron as a hypocrite for comments he 'might' make about the man's death in light of claim that he was instrumental in producing the 1985 'Hang Mandela' poster and that he went on a pro apartheid fact finding trip to South Africa paid for by the anti sanction lobby in 1989. Now I'm no fan of Mr Cameron, but firstly these 'facts' are not all true to start with - yes he did indeed go on the mentioned trip, but the poster allegation there is not evidence for at all. The Facebook posts claim he was a top member of the FCS student organisation that produced these posters, whereas he was a fairly passive member of the student body (most reports say he wasn't much interested in politics in his student days) and the posters themselves, although may have been produced by some members of the FCS, were not produced by the FCS itself and do not mention the FCS on them.
This though is not the thing that grieves me the most. No, what does is that the astonishing legacy that Nelson Mandela left was a South Africa that did not revert to civil war post apartheid, but instead was a society he nurtured to put the past behind them. It was not about revenge or hate. It was about forgiveness and cooperation; about ending the hatred and racial inequality - not replacing one injustice with another.
As one of his prison friends mentioned, Mandela said not to hate the white guards that oversaw them, but engage with them, make them your friends and thus the world can be changed for the better.
So my sadness now is that I think Mandela would be weeping tears of sorrow to think that people were reacting to his death by posting messages of scorn, hatred and blame.
His legacy should be one of love, forgiveness and rising up to the challenge of creating a better world!