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. Continue reading