10 April, 2021


A radical once, a humanist thereafter. An embodiment of dignity and political wisdom, Nelson Mandela’s life is a sign of something better for our troubled times.

AFP (From Outlook 08 July 2013)

In our lifetimes, most of us Indians have not had that moment when we looked at an individual and said this is the face that symbolises our freedom, our liberty, our morality. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi died before most of us were born and we have since evolved contesting views of history between an Ambedkar, a Jawaharlal or even a Savarkar. There is no one individual in our national imagination who epitomises what Nelson Mandela does for South Africa and indeed the world. But we are privileged onlookers to that life of struggle, grace and dignity. In a world short of heroes, we can salute one.

The signposts of Mandela’s life are dramatic: 27 years in prison, freedom at last, then the momentous end of apartheid. But it is his philosophical dilemmas that are even more fascinating. From being an advocate of militant politics, he becomes a votary of humane values. He is thrown in jail by a brutal regime: he steps out without any hatred. He refuses to be demeaned by hate and bitterness. He smiles at his tormentors. The political achievements are as significant as the...

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