Georgia Says

The Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal on Mandela:

The white South African system of apartheid was a brutal, cynical system of racial segregation that was becoming increasingly unsustainable and most observers believed it could end in only one way — massive bloodshed.

The majority black population believed revolution to be inevitable and the white-ruled government made careful preparations to see that such a revolution would not succeed. It is owing largely to one man, Nelson Mandela, that neither came to pass.

If Mandela, who died Thursday at 95, could be cloned, sub-Saharan Africa would be a much better place.

Mandela was cruelly and unfairly convicted of crimes that consisted largely of wishful thinking and spent 27 years in prison on Robben Island for the dreamy and impractical scheme to overthrow white rule. He was taken to the island when he was 44 and returned when he was 71.

He seemed by nature free of self-pity but during his days mining limestone and his nights in a small cell he developed an almost preternatural dignity.

He also learned Afrikaans, the language of both his jailers and the ruling minority government, and it is not overstating the case to say he literally talked his way out of jail with his vision of a multiracial society.

With the white Afrikaaner president, F.W. de Klerk, he negotiated the terms of the country's first free election, which Mandela won handily. But in contrast to the pattern of African self-rule, where the first free election is the last, Mandela stepped down at the end of his term. Inevitably, the government fell into the hands of lesser men but, even so, it was still so much better than what preceded Mandela.

Mandela had an uncanny sense of the appropriate gesture. His jailer from Robben Island was in the front row at his inauguration. When the South African rugby team, the Springboks, revered by whites, won the world championship, Mandela came down to the field wearing Springbok colors to present the trophy.

He created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which in practice did little of either, but it provided a badly needed outlet for the people to vent the anger and frustration they felt from the indignities suffered under apartheid.

Regardless of whether or not you believe in the Great Man theory of history, Mandela was truly a great man.



More Opinion

Why the secret vote?

During a recent regular meeting, the Coweta County Board of Commissioners voted to go into executive session. For those unfamiliar with the ... Read More


Rants, Raves & Really?!?

A look back at last week’s highs, lows and whatevers: REALLY?!? The city of Newnan and Coweta County are joining with VestNewnan to ap ... Read More


Georgia Says

Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on immigration reform: President Obama must be tone deaf. His threat to go it alone on comprehensive immig ... Read More


Seeing the light

If you’re paying attention, you’d never know that only a couple of years ago this area was in the midst of one of the worst econ ... Read More


A great day

An Old Soldier’s Prayer I have fought when others feared to serve. I have gone where others failed to go. I've lost friends in war ... Read More

Rants, Raves & Really?!?

REALLY?!?: Convicted rapist Benjamin Tyler Gray, 29, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years. Gray&rsq ... Read More