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Reflecting on Nelson Mandela’s life

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Nelson Mandela

Reflecting on Nelson Mandela’s Life

By: Chriss W. Street

The passing of Nelson Mandela provides an opportunity to reflect on the politics of Africa, where the post-apartheid leader will remain esteemed as a relentless champion of democracy, human rights and the unfinished struggle for freedom.  He was the son of a royal family, a lawyer, activist, guerrilla leader, a prisoner on the infamous Robben Island and eventually a President who sought to create a South Africa that transcended race.

Mandela, who died at 95 years of age, was exceptional among Africa’s rulers, because he defied the self-enrichment that has characterized many of the continent’s leaders, from the Republic of the Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko to Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos.  Self-enrichment was is rife within the African National Congress that has ruled South Africa since 1994.  But Mandela remained above the corruption and became only modestly rich.  He also shocked the continent by being the only leader in post-colonial Africa to step down in 1999 after just a single term in office.  Mandela’s greatest legacy is his transition from fearless guerrilla commander to true President of all South Africa.

Mandela sought to effectively manage the geopolitical limitations of South Africa.  It is a country of awash in riches, but the markets for virtually all its products are off-shore.  There are diamonds in the West, gold and other mineral resources in the center, and increasingly coal, oil and natural gas in the East.  But South Africa was starved for capital when Mandela took over. It badly needed foreign buyers for its industry, mining sector and transportation infrastructure. Under Mandela’s administration, South Africa re-opened to foreign investors and was rewarded with a huge economic recovery.

Mandela fought off communist demands to nationalize industries, because it would have driven away foreign investors.  Mandela understood that South Africa was emerging from sanctions and isolation and any hint of nationalizing would have killed confidence in the rule of law.  South African industry needed rehabilitation to achieve the economic goals of the impoverished black majority.  Mandela and his administration took great pains to assure that economic provisions were fair to domestic and international businesses.

Mandela had a political mandate to reshape his country; but he also understood the country’s limitations.  He did not try to erase the colonial institutions that preceded his rule, but instead sought to entrench systems that would enable good governance.  He trod a careful path that has helped South Africa to grow and thrive, as a multiracial democracy.  Mandela’s life and story are testament to the spirit of courage and endurance in the face of geopolitical imperative. They are also, however, a cautionary tale of the limits of human agency and the power of geography.

Chriss W. Street

Contact:   chriss.street@gmail.com

Website:  www.chrissstreetandcompany.com

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3 Responses

  1. “Self-enrichment was is rife within the African National Congress that has ruled South Africa since 1994. But Mandela remained above the corruption and became only modestly rich. He also shocked the continent by being the only leader in post-colonial Africa to step down in 1999 after just a single term in office.”………. Hmmmmmmm

    I am sure that we can’t say same about our President Husein, the magic Negro, born in Africa to the American hippie woman who was fulfilling her sexual fantasy with the Kenyan Barack Obama, Sr., who was the typical, garden-variety chronic alcoholic. But according to a 2008 article in the Boston Globe, as Barack Sr.’s disease progressed, he became a very dangerous man.

    He began to drink more heavily and had a series of alcohol-related accidents, one of which resulted in the death of another driver. Shortly before his death, a colleague from the Harvard Institute for International Development working at the ministry in Nairobi saw Obama Sr. “staggering’” through the hallways.

    “I asked someone next to me, ‘What is the matter with that guy?’” said Gray. …”He said, ‘He is always very intoxicated and unable to do his job.’ It was very sad.”

    According to former U.S Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who knew Obama, Sr., he was “self-involved and egotistical” with “big unrealistic dreams.”

    The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: In 12-step recovery programs, Obama would be called an ACoA, an adult child of an alcoholic.

    The Obama Care is my point of authority.

  2. Hearing all of this praise and worship of Nelson Mandela and receiving all of these eulogies in my in-box has gotten me a bit uptight lately! Hearing that public buildings here in the U.S. are lowering their flags to half staff in honor of this guy is to say the least a bit disturbing! An objective and accurate review of history and the views of Nelson Mandela, without all of the attached emotion and racially political correctness, will reveal a man who actually was a convicted terrorist and a communist sympathizer! I challenge anyone to refute the information below! It’s a known fact that Nelson Mandela once wrote: “How to be a good Communist.” In addition, he and his wife traveled frequently to Cuba and were both known for being friends with dictators and communist leaders, including Castro! There is a ton of interesting information about this guy to review below! A truly objective person interested in facts will take everything in to account, instead of repeating the politically-correct mantra from the media! Lowering our flags to half staff in honor of a non-American who was a Communist Sympathizer or an out-right Communist himself, is a dishonor to all the brave Americans who fought, bleed, and died to end Communism around the world! Let’s be very careful who we honor and celebrate!