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NELSON MANDELA

Eyewear is just a wee blog, and its editor is not a political scientist.  When we weigh in, here, on world matters, we do so as amateurs.  I have no insider knowledge of Nelson Mandela, the great political visionary who has sadly died.  I can only listen, read, watch, reflect, on what the media tells me.  I first heard of Mandela in the 1980s, via songs by the likes of Simple Minds.  The idea then was to free the man.  Then, when he was freed, there was great joy, and expectation.  The expectation was warranted.  The prisoner, famously became the president, and he was, by all accounts a merciful and kind leader, refusing revenge on his former captors.  Indeed, listening to Dr Rowan Williams today on Radio 4, BBC, it struck me that Mandela, in a quiet way, was the greatest Christian of our era - the person who best embodied Christ's near-impossible dictum, to turn the other cheek.  If only.  So few of us can do it on a crowded tube journey, in our marriages, at work, let alone on the world stage.  Most world leaders are frankly cretins, self-interested, and often needlessly bloody.  Look about at all the conflicts now raging, indeed, many in Africa; often caused by colonialism.  Human nature is not easy to rise above.  Mandela entered his cell as a man who did not renounce violence, I believe, but he came out decades later as someone who, miraculously, had grown in prison to become ever deeper, wiser, better.  Few of us take life as a journey of constant improvement.  He did.  I suppose his vision was focused powerfully by a very strong sense of a wrong needing to be corrected.  Apartheid was an evil concept, and an evil reality, and it is horrid to think that Britain and other nations did business with those who sustained it.  It was unsustainable, and Mr Mandela's greatness made it seem all the more untenable. History is made by human beings working together in their billions to overcome and transform the forces of power ranged against them; and humans require good leadership.  We have not lost Mandela.  His impact on history of this world deviated it, if even just a bit, from evil, into the light.  As such, he endures forever.
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