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Why we should all be thankful for Nelson Mandela

By Ken Simpson | 2 minute read

Just moments ago, I heard that one of the world’s greatest men has passed – thankfully in peace with his family surrounding him. I was born in South Africa; my family left shortly thereafter, but I continue to have ties to the country through relatives, and had the fortune of visiting there a year ago.

The country my family left in 1978 was a semi-dictatorship. My father told me once that before leaving for our “vacation to Canada”, he had to register with the police office in order to get the requisite permission to leave. The rest of the world, through increasing pressure on the country, eventually succeeded in securing Mandela’s release from prison. It’s what happened after his release that I think we should all pay our respects to.

Mandela inherited a deeply divided country, wherein nearly all the wealth was controlled by a tiny minority of white people in positions of extreme power. The excluded millions could have risen up in militant resistance, but he encouraged non-violence and somehow managed to secure a peaceful transition from autocracy to a colourful if at times flawed democracy.

Today, South Africa has many problems, including cronyism and corruption. But we should all nonetheless thank Nelson Mandela for ensuring the peaceful foundation that has given millions of people in South Africa and across the developing world hope that they can secure their freedom in a non-violent way.

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