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Remembering Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

We take the measure of a moral hero, South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela reacts at the Mandela foundation, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday June 2, 2009, during a meeting with a group of American and South African students as part of a series of activities leading to Mandela Day on July 18th. The anti-apartheid leader died in his home on Dec. 5, 2013.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela reacts at the Mandela foundation, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday June 2, 2009, during a meeting with a group of American and South African students as part of a series of activities leading to Mandela Day on July 18th. The anti-apartheid leader died in his home on Dec. 5, 2013.

Nelson Mandela was a hero, and then more.  That rare, transcendent figure who through struggle and vision and breakthrough becomes a moral inspiration to the world.  For decades, he was the imprisoned figure of defiance and liberation struggle for South Africans under the brutal racial oppression of apartheid.  And then he emerged from prison smiling.  Radiant.  A freedom fighter who became an avatar of reconciliation.  Now he has died, at 95.  And the world turns to consider the full measure of the man.  This hour On Point: the meaning of Nelson Mandela.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Peter Wonacott, Africa bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal.

Janet Heard, assistant editor and head of news at Cape Times.

Douglas Foster, journalist and author of “After Mandela: The Struggle For Freedom In Post-Apartheid South Africa.”

Penelope Andrews, President and Dean of Albany Law School. South African native and author of “The Post Apartheid Constitutions: Perspectives on South Africa’s Basic Law.”

Heinz Klug, professor of law at the University of Wisconsin. South African native and former member of South Africa’s ANC Land Commission.

From Tom’s Reading List

NPR: Nelson Mandela, Inspiration To World, Dies At 95 — “From his childhood as a herd boy, Mandela went on to lead the African National Congress’ struggle against the racially oppressive, apartheid regime of South Africa. For his efforts, he spent 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner. In 1994, after Mandela was elected president in South Africa’s first democratic elections, Archbishop Desmond Tutu shook with elation as he welcomed Mandela to a rally in Cape Town.’One man inspires us all. One man inspires the whole world,’ Tutu said at the time. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, friends, fellow South Africans, welcome our brand new state president — out of the box: Nelson Mandela.'”

Bloomberg News: Nelson Mandela, Who Led South Africa Past Apartheid, Dies at 95 — “Released from prison in 1990, Mandela negotiated a peaceful end to the old regime with leaders of South Africa’s white minority government. Three years later, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as president from 1994 to 1999, before stepping down voluntarily. Mandela came to symbolize proof that seemingly intractable disputes could be resolved. Former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao and warring factions in Burundi all asked him to help mediate conflicts. On his part, Mandela never wavered from espousing non-violence after the settlement talks began.”

The Nation: The Meaning Of Mandela — “To fully grasp the meaning of Nelson Mandela’s death, at the age of 95, imagine for a moment that his life had turned out differently. What if he’d perished as a child, like so many youngsters of his generation in the rural backwaters of the Transkei? Think of what might have happened, or not happened, if he’d died in the mines of the City of Gold, Johannesburg, where he arrived as a young man after running away from his village. Of course, he survived not only the privations of apartheid—that savage and extreme system of racial segregation—but also the long liberation struggle as well.”

Read An Excerpt Of “After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa” by Douglas Foster

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