Man­dela’s last­ing legacy

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

Few politi­cians have been as re­spected in life or hon­ored in death as for­mer South African pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela. Since the anti-apartheid icon and South Africa’s first black pres­i­dent died at 95 in his Jo­han­nes­burg home on Dec 5, peo­ple around the world, no mat­ter how dif­fer­ent their back­grounds and po­lit­i­cal in­cli­na­tions are, have been com­mem­o­rat­ing him in dif­fer­ent lan­guages and in dif­fer­ent ways.

Man­dela was not per­fect, and the coun­try he leaves be­hind still faces many prob­lems. But de­spite his short­com­ings, he leaves the world an in­her­i­tance to trea­sure, said a Bei­jing News ed­i­to­rial on Satur­day.

There was a time when South Africa was the cru­elest corner of the world, har­bor­ing racial seg­re­ga­tion. At that time black and white peo­ple liv­ing an equal life in the coun­try was an unattain­able dream. Both the in­tro­duc­tion of democ­racy and the avoid­ance of what would have in all like­li­hood been Africa’s blood­i­est civil war were re­garded as mis­sions im­pos­si­ble.

It was Man­dela who led South Africans to put an end to apartheid, re­al­ize so­cial rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and build a rainbow na­tion. There may still be dis­agree­ments from time to time, but peo­ple seek to re­solve their prob­lems and dif­fer­ences through civ­i­lized means.

This is the most valu­able legacy of Man­dela, who en­dured 27 years of hard­ships in prison and walked out with new re­flec­tions and thoughts with which to guide all races to their en­ti­tle­ment of equal rights and in­ter­ests. His per­se­ver­ance and tol­er­ance won him sup­port­ers both at home and abroad and moved even his op­po­nents.

The rea­son why South Africa has re­al­ized a sta­ble tran­si­tion and averted ha­tred and slaugh­ter be­tween dif­fer­ent races is the es­tab­lish­ment of a foun­da­tion of mu­tual trust and recog­ni­tion of the need for so­cial or­der.

The co-ex­is­tence of dif­fer­ent hu­man races un­der the prin­ci­ple of equal­ity and their re­sort­ing to peace­ful, demo­cratic and le­gal means to re­solve dif­fer­ences are part of Man­dela’s mem­o­rable legacy.

Since 1999, Man­dela lived a se­cluded life. He re­signed at the peak of his po­lit­i­cal life and avoided re­peat­ing the mis­takes of many po­lit­i­cal fig­ures of his time. He in­ter­preted a politi­cian’s mis­sion in an al­most per­fect way.

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