Oh dear. I just this second saw the report of his death & immediately came here. Thank you for starting a thread on him. Really, considering how his life positively affected the consciousness of people around the world, he can be numbered among the most influential people of the 20th century, with his influence felt into this century as well.
Reporting from South Africa: There are no signs whatsoever in my city that anything out of the usual has occurred. No gatherings or suchlike. The radio has constantly being broadcasting the fact that Mandela has passed away. Some sources say he has been dead (brain dead) for a very long time and only kept alive on machines. Who really knows when he actually 'died'. I guess now the country will be flooded with heads of state as the funeral should be huge.
South Africa has lost a great man - only rotten to the core leaders are left to send the country further into the mire....
Yes, I hate keeping people alive on machines that way; that was very much the fashion in the latter years of the Soviet Union, and Ariel Sharon is still "alive"...
Yes, a pity that there are no new leaders who seem of Mandela's calibre. One thing that will have dreadful consequences for decades to come is the mismanagement of the AIDS crisis. Brazil, for example, did so much better...
Thanks for your comment Lagatta. I am already imagining the scene with Robert Mugabe shaking hands with David Cameron, Obama, and then the ghastly man rubbing shoulders with our rotten lot.... Not many people remember that it was the integrity of FW de Klerk and others that forced the apartheid government to do an about turn and release Mandela. This was no mean feat for FW- I don't think he got enough recognition.
In early AIDS days we were warned there would not be enough Africans left to run the workings of South Africa. Warnings of mortuaries overflowing with bodies was portrayed in the media. Well, you would not even know there was ever a scourge like Aids. The population is still heaving and the anti-retrovirals are flowing. No more big ads on using condoms. I would say the population has forgotten all about the dire consequences of getting Aids through casual sex and dodgy blood transfusions.
The weather: Hotting up but on the whole, lots of cooler weather and storms. We have even had the underfloor heating on again. The hot balmy nights are still to come.....I hope!
Unfortunately, "AIDS fatigue" is a worldwide problem. But such a dire one in ZA, where the scope of the disease has cut life expectancy by many, many years. I had two friends who died of AIDS complications in recent years, and they were in countries (France and Canada) with access to quality public healthcare and the retroviral drugs.
I loved this clip in which Mandela joins in with Johnny Clegg and other South African musicians:
The life of Nelson Mandela has been about the only thing on the news today. Strangely enough, I had already planned to see the Franco-South African movie Zulu today (Orlando Bloom, Forest Whitaker) and it turned out to be highly appropriate since it shows all levels of South African society, from the rich to the townships -- and completely rife with corruption at all levels but with plenty of good people who just try to do their best anyway.
Among the trailers before the film was the trailer for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which comes out here a bit later this month.
Tod, I very well remember FW de Klerk, because it was so surprising to so many of us that a white South African who seemed to be just like all of the others (seen from such a great distance without really paying close attention to the hopeless politics anymore) actually turned out to be so different. It was pretty much the same as with Gorbatchev -- another Soviet apparatchik comes to power, looking like all of the others -- and then surprises the world.
Tod, please keep us informed if anything out of the blue transpires within the next few days.
Nelson Mandela is, in my books, one of the 'Greats'. He has left his mark on this world. Only one word comes to mind when I think of him and that is ADMIRATION. Even though he suffered so much, he kept his dignity and self-respect intact. His ideals never faltered. Where would we be today if he had not existed or stood up for what he believed in? The world would be a different place to what it is now, there is no doubt about it.
Only once in a while comes along a person who really makes a difference. He will stand out as being of the same caliber as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa and Churchill. Strong, but dignified people with high ideals, morals and a sense of fairness that were not afraid to stand up for what they knew to be the truth and the only way.
France found itself in a somewhat delicate position today because it is hosting a Franco-African conference starting today, and 40 African heads of state are in Paris at the moment. 53 of the 54 countries of Africa are represented at the meeting. Naturally, the government had to go all out, even more than usual, for this event.
Gee, that is interesting Kerouac......only Zim not there. Wonder why....
Since my last post I have noticed several flags flying at half mast. The paper headlines this morning read: 149 members of State flying in to South Africa. Wonder which ones will get the luxury suites at the hotels, and which will have to make-do with just an en-suite....
You may think this strange - not every black person is in mourning for Mandela. My maid for instance has a 'I could care less' attitude and swears blind that he passed away weeks ago. I casually asked an attendant at the post office who was helping me retrieve my post "So do you think Nelson Mandela passed away yesterday or some time ago?" The reply was a shrug of the shoulders and he replied "I am not concerned with it - Mandela means nothing to me" I was a bit taken aback at this answer but forgetting that there are two main tribes rivaling each other . The Xhosa's like Mandela and then the majority in Kwazulu-Natal being the Zulu's who are propping up Zuma. He may have been a Zulu methinks...
I imagine that some of the population is disappointed that Mandela did not turn the country into a paradise for them by snapping his fingers or pulling out a magic wand -- not to mention the option of eliminating the citizens of European or Indian origin, which obviously would have solved all of the problems... NOT.
But just thinking of local French politics, I am not surprised, because at every single election there are people who think that the new people will make all the problems vanish, and I'm sure you are aware that our own problems cannot at all be compared to the magnitude of the problems in South Africa (or just about anywhere else in Africa).
I have never really understood why so many people have unrealistic expectations about things that a government can do, but there are a lot of them, and they are consistently disgusted and annoyed at the people who disappointed them. If they would put a tiny bit of that energy into doing little things that would improve their lives -- like picking up trash -- they might not be so unhappy. I myself often pick up a can or a bottle lying on the sidewalk, especially if it is right next to a trash container. And I'm sure you can imagine that people look at me as though I am completely mad. After all, we are paying taxes to have the streets cleaned, so we should just blame the people in power if there is a mess anywhere.
Anyway, my morning newspaper devoted 20 pages to Nelson Mandela today (out of 64).
Sorry Lagatta - forgot to mention that I do speak Afrikaans and find Dutch easy to read and understand and have also seen the interview with De Klerk. Thanks for giving me that link! Deyana - yes , I will report anything I think news worthy in the next few days.
Kerouac - The expectations of the black majority are that their lives will be turned around with things like a decent house that has running water, an indoor toilet, and so forth. When this expectation has not been met over the years since we had free and fair elections, you would think the people would stand up and start to voice some sort of annoyance. No, not a peep. Occasionally a person would be interviewed on TV about slum conditions or sometimes we see a happy woman who has just received a house after 20 years. You are quite right - a government cannot change things overnight and millions want to have everything handed to them on a plate and do nothing however small to get things changed, but I cannot understand how the population thinks when it comes to revealing the outrageous theft of public money by high ranking officials. They don't seem to care that Zuma is spending billions on his new 'palace' while they still live in shacks. The opposition parties are pointing out this blatant overspending by people that are supposed to have been at the head of the struggle to make life better for the citizens of South Africa. Our health care and hospitals - (that's state institutions) - are falling apart. Schools have had to lower the level of education or else there would be pupils still in class at 30 years of age.
I'm afraid it is a case of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
President Obama has asked flags to be flown at half mast here through the weekend out of respect. The Obamas and Bush "the younger" and wife are planning to attend the funeral, but it has been rumored that other US presidents will also attend.
I wonder if Fidel Castro will be able to make the trip. He was one of Mandela's first international supporters when the rest of the world was calling Mandela a terrorist -- and one of the very first trips that Mandela made when he was released from prison was to Cuba.
As with all huge international funerals, the secret diplomatic encounters that will take place at this event are certain to be fascinating.
This is a good and (for me), an educational conversation.
I know that no one is perfect. And I'm not saying the people I mentioned were above doing anything wrong, but my admiration still goes out to those men and women that believed in something that, in time, changed the thinking of the world. I guess it's called having faith in your convictions and following those through with actions. Actions that thousands, maybe millions, disagreed with or are or were against. I have so much admiration for that. I love rebels with a cause.
The funeral of Pierre Elliot Trudeau in 2000 was quite remarkable for the bringing together of disparate viewpoints. Former US President Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro. the Aga Khan and Leonard Cohen were honerary pallbearers of the casket. Perhaps Mandela's funeral will be as extraordinary.
Yes Lizzyfaire, I think you are right about it being extraordinary. Well, I think the world expects it! I'm sure choirs are massing and practicing like mad, troops polishing up the brass and boots, and of course there are sure to be those singers who intend outdoing each other. I am curious to see if they put a blanket on top of the coffin as is traditionally done and is also buried with the casket. After all is done and dusted I wonder if his family will get back to fighting over the millions......
My maid for instance has a 'I could care less' attitude and swears blind that he passed away weeks ago.
Earlier today I read a quote by a younger South African who said that although Mandela & his legacy are respected, the younger generation is looking to the future, not the past. I think that movements and events slip more quickly into history than we like to think. I certainly vividly remember the US's version of apartheid, whereas it might seem ancient history to a person half my age. At any rate, after being struck by the comment I read earlier by the young South African, I came across this slide show from the New Yorker. Can someone please tell me how to get the sound portions to work?
Very interesting comments from everyone, and of course illuminating to hear from you, Tod.
Audio Slide Show Mandela’s Legacy: the born Frees Photographs by Krisanne Johnson