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‘Love Thine Enemy’: Producer Stefano Kotsonis Remembers Madiba

Love thine enemy.  Turn the other check.  Speak truth.  Blessed are the meek.  Freedom. Be good.  Be kind.  It’s not complicated.  We’ve all been taught to live by these ideas.  But we love a guy like Mr. Mandela because however clever, possibly even ruthless he may have been as political tactician, he seemed, at least by the time he had matured, much, much better at living those precepts than most of us.

I met Mandela, but only to shake his hand, smile, exchange greetings.  His people fluttered around him like he was a special, tall angel.  And indeed, he had that air about him that most other powerful people I’ve met simply do not have.  Just a couple of examples:  Yitzhak Shamir.  A contemptuous, angry, even cruel man, he seemed.  Yassir Arafat:  A buffoonish charm, maybe, when pushing his way through crowds, but mostly he glowed with anger and self-pity.  Slobodan Milosevic. Murderous.   Franjo Tudjman.  Stupid and murderous.

Funny, but four ‘M’ leaders of Africa come to mind.  Mandela, Mobutu, Mugabe, Mubarak.  Can you admire the other three?  Don’t these men who had billions of dollars and the blood and sorrow of millions flow through their fingers seem so small and unimpressive by comparison to good old Madiba?

Who on the world stage can you admire as much?  Putin?  Merkel?  Musharraf? (Boy, there ARE a lot of ‘M’ leaders.) Our recent American presidents?  (Okay, let’s not go there.)  Pelosi?  Reid? Boehner?  McConnell?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to turn our respectful eyes towards somebody on the world stage today now that Mandela is resting in peace?  South Africans have their many reasons for mourning him.  One of the sad things about his passing for the rest of us is, well, read the papers.

– Stefano Kotsonis

On Point producer Stefano Kotsonis shows off his "Mandela For President" t-shirt in the WBUR offices. (Nick Andersen / WBUR)

On Point producer Stefano Kotsonis shows off his “Mandela For President” t-shirt in the WBUR offices. (Nick Andersen / WBUR)

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ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 28, 2014
This June 4, 2014 photo shows a Walgreens retail store in Boston. Walgreen Co. _ which bills itself as “America’s premier pharmacy” _ is among many companies considering combining operations with foreign businesses to trim their tax bills. (AP)

President Obama is pushing hard to close a loophole that allows companies to move their operations overseas and pay lower taxes. We’ll look at what’s at stake.

Jul 28, 2014
U.S. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker watches as wounded American soldiers arrive at an American hospital near the front during World War I. (AP Photo)

Marking the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One. We’ll look at lessons learned and lessons for now.

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