Nelson Mandela ( former terrorist) was an exceptional revolutionary, who did not create a political “family” dynasty, did not create a dictatorship, did not loot the country, did not build jails and executed opponents and did not send political dissidents to ‘re-educational centers”. He saved his people and nation from civil war and destruction. South Africa is not yet out of “Apartheid”.
Nelson Mandela was unlike any other “revolutionaries” or “fathers” of independence, the likes of Gamal Abdul-Nasser, or Muammar Gaddafi, or Kenneth Kawunda or Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nikroma, Robert Mugabe, Samora Moises Machel, and Ahmed Ben Bella, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Fidel Castro, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Mobutu Sese Sako, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong. He was a transitional leader who with his decision for a one term as president set the stage for an infant democracy making sure that there are no presidency for life and no civil war in South Africa and for that he was an “exceptional” leader
Of course not all “uprising” against colonialism, or dictatorship even when using “armed uprising” can be defined as “revolution”, such the case of Kenya, Zimbabwe, or Mozambique and Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zaire (Popular Republic of Congo), Nigeria, among others in Africa.
Most of post independent Africa became ruthless kelpto- dictatorship that plunged the country in total corruption sawing the seeds of civil wars as we saw in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Ivory Cost, Liberia, Chad, Sudan, Libya, Mali, and Angola among others. Africa continues to be plagued with civil wars some 60 years after independence. Rendering Africa rich with its natural resources a basket case, a failed continent, with hundreds of millions of people without decent roads, basic infrastructure of water, sewage and electricity, substandard housing that is nothing but shanty towns, without proper schools and basic public health services. This is in contrast to South East Asia, which came out of post colonialism and civil wars to be real economic tigers such as South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia and among other countries.
For the most part these popular uprising with somewhat little armed uprising were part of what I would term as “pre-immediate independence” something necessary to expedite the process of independence. Algeria was totally different case. It was a people and armed resistance, a real revolution, in every since of the word, against French colonialism where France did not see it self as a “colonizing “ power but saw Algeria an extension of or a “province” of France and saw the Algerian revolution as a “ domestic insurrection” and not a war of liberation.
Of all African countries, South Africa was an exceptional case. A country ruled by centuries old settlers and European colonizer who resisting post Calvinist Europe decided centuries ago to escape liberalism in Europe and set up their own “settler’s colonies” in what is now South Africa, and subsequently using a combination of religion and racial superiority not much different from “religious Zionism” decided on a system of “Apartheid” separation of the races.
While the United States which for a long time exercised and perfected its own brand of “apartheid” separation of the races under the doctrine, “separate but equal”, which was all but equal, both countries exercised racial superiority to disfranchise its citizens. In the case of South Africa the majority of the population while in the US disfranchising a substantial minority.
Though Nelson Mandela succeeded in ending “Apartheid” and did succeed in creating a new South Africa without “color barriers” and without “civil war”, South Africa almost two decades after the end of Apartheid remains a country divided not along “racial” lines but along “economic” and “social” lines.
Millions of Black South African are yet to benefit from ending “Apartheid” lacking social and infrastructure services with the majority of Black South Africans yet to see, feel and benefit from new democratic and rich South Africa. Millions are living in “Shanty Township” or Black Ghettos, lacking basic infrastructures of roads, hospitals, schools, decent affordable housing are among many of the shortcoming and failing of post “Apartheid” South Africa”.
Luckily for South Africa and its people the ANC did not become the “One Party State” as in the case of most if not all Post Colonial Africa, the presence of a substantial White minority perhaps the contributing factor, ANC leadership with a country that is the largest economy in Africa better get down to work and address all the inequities and end once and for all the legacy of Apartheid South Africa.
Nelson Mandela leaves behind a legacy of “love” for his people and for his former enemies and jailers. He leaves a legacy of forgiveness that many of the world “revolutionaries” simply forgot what it is and what it means and what impacts it has on their nations. While “fathers of independence” went on to take revenge, Nelson Mandela went on to love life and life gave him much love back. God Bless, rest in Peace.
Sami, a Palestinian-American and a US Army Veteran (66-68), recipient of the “soldier of the month award and leadership award from the 6th Army NCO Academy, is an international legal and business consultant with over 40 years of international experience, in construction, hospitality services, conservation, and defense, in the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. Sami is a holder of BA, MPA in Public and Environmental Affairs, Jurist Doctor from Indiana University. While at IU he was elected class president, student government president and chairman of the Indiana Students Association,
Active in peace movement as a co-author of the pre-amble for the One State for All of its people and voluntary service program SalamNation. A frequent contributor on national and international affairs. He resides in the United States.