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Mandela at 90: How should his legacy be preserved?


mandela_90_poster_resized.jpgTributes poured in on Friday as anti-apartheid struggle icon and international statesman Nelson Mandela celebrated his 90th birthday.

Mandela is revered globally for using his personal charm to promote reconciliation in a racially divided country on the verge of a racial bloodbath after his release from 27 years in apartheid jails for battling white domination. The emerging multiracial or rainbow nation he moulded is seen as his greatest legacy. 

Johannesburg’s leading daily, Business Day, referred to this in its editorial: “It is no exaggeration to state that it is highly unlikely there would have been a negotiated transition from minority to majority rule in SA had it not been for Mandela’s wisdom, humility, dignity under pressure and willingness to compromise in the interests of peace.”

Former South African President F.W. de Klerk, the country’s last white ruler,  referred to Mandela in his tribute as “the most famous South African who ever lived and is universally regarded as one of the greatest figures of the 20th century”. The South African government, which Mandela headed, said in its birthday message: “Your vision has implanted in our society the seeds of social cohesion and national reconciliation to which prosperity will look back with awe and admiration.”