Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Mandela: icon, hero and flawed human

ONE MAN ONE VOTE

FILE - In this May 17, 1996 file photo, South African President Nelson Mandela, left, and actor Sidney Poitier appear at a news conference in Cape Town. Poitier is in South Africa making a film in which he portrays Mandela, alongside Michael Caine, who plays former President F. W. de Klerk in "Mandela and de Klerk," about the country's transition from a white minority government to black majority rule. Heroic in his deeds, graceful in his manner, sainted in his image, Nelson Mandela long served as both cause and muse in the entertainment community. From the 1960s, when he was a political prisoner and South Africa was under the laws of apartheid, right up to recent times, when the racist laws of the land had fallen and he was among the world’s most admired people, Mandela inspired concerts, songs, poems, fiction and movies.(AP Photo/Sasa Kralj, File)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Force of nature. Father of all nations. A messiah of our times.

Yet Nelson Mandela, described so often as a gift, an icon, a legend and even a saint, was flawed like any other human. Mandela was aware of his failings, and he struggled to be recognized as a man rather than a representative of an immaculate ideal.

He said many times that he was part of a collective that sought to eliminate the cruel system of white rule, even as understandably proud South Africans, some with commercial intent, craft more portraits, statues and commemorative knickknacks in his image and name more roads, buildings, schools and hospitals after him.

Known by his clan name, Mandela mixed humor, generosity and empathy in an irresistible potion that some called “Madiba magic.” But those who knew him well sometimes saw a cold, haughty side. His children lamented that he was not there for them, even after he left prison. His association with dictators like Moammar Gadhafi who had opposed apartheid suggested that Mandela made political compromises as a free man.

Mandela often sparred with F.W. de Klerk, the reformist white president and his partner in sharing a Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to apartheid. De Klerk said after Mandela’s death that the two became friends after they both retired.

Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu praised Mandela for reconciling the races as South Africans emerged from apartheid and elected the former prisoner as their president in 1994 elections, defying grim predictions of racial war. However, unlike most other prominent figures who paid tribute, Tutu briefly noted Mandela’s weaknesses.

“He retained in his Cabinet underperforming, frankly incompetent ministers,” Tutu said of Mandela. “This tolerance of mediocrity arguably laid the seeds for greater levels of mediocrity and corruptibility that were to come.”

He said Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95, exhibited a “steadfast loyalty to his organization and to some of his colleagues who ultimately let him down.”

Tutu was referring to the African National Congress, the main liberation movement and current ruling party that is the front-runner ahead of national elections next year. It has lost some support because of corruption scandals and poor service delivery in a country still plagued by economic inequality, reflecting disillusionment that things have not turned out as well as many hoped when Mandela was at the helm.

The remarks highlight how Mandela’s record as an activist and prisoner before the end of apartheid, captured in his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom,” is widely known and admired. His record as president is less scrutinized.

It is too much to expect that Mandela would set a new South Africa, traumatized by decades of a social system that denied the vote, equal education and other basic rights to the black majority, on a path to success in just one five-year presidential term. His retirement from politics was seen as a trademark gesture of modesty, a spurning of the cult of the individual. Many South Africans, though, regret he did not take the country further forward with his moral authority by serving another term.

Criticism comes, too, from South Africans who believe Mandela and his allies in the early 1990s were too eager to accommodate the white minority which still dominates the economy. When ANC leaders negotiated an end to apartheid, they did not insist on restructuring of the kind that happened in Zimbabwe after independence, fearing it could destabilize the country.

Mandela told business leaders in Cape Town shortly before the 1994 election that the country was struggling with high unemployment, low investment and growth rates and an income distribution system that was “terribly skewed” toward whites.

That imbalance is still in force, according to Julius Malema, the expelled head of the ANC’s youth league and now leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party. The upstart party seeks to harness the poor’s discontent, and Malema has said it is time to redistribute wealth.

“All evidence of the past 20 years reveal the simple reality that those who had to take forward the struggle for economic freedom did not do so,” the party said in a tribute to Mandela, in an indirect criticism of the revered leader.

Decades earlier, his decision to endorse violence as a last-ditch means of fighting apartheid was seized upon by the white overseers of race-based repression as evidence that he was a terrorist. The ANC’s armed wing was later involved in bombings that killed civilians.

Mandela has said he regretted his distance from his children, not just as a prisoner of apartheid but later, when politics and public duty claimed him. He was divorced twice, splitting with second wife Winnie Mandela in 1996.

Ahmed Kathrada, an activist who was imprisoned with Mandela, said his old friend was deeply worried while in jail at unwittingly projecting a saint-like image to the world.

Kathrada also quoted Mandela as saying: “I wanted to be like an ordinary human being with virtues and vices.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Vacaville set to usher in new chapter for Police Department

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Supervisor candidates file conflict-of-interest forms

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
Trial begins for teacher accused of abusing children

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

Suisun police ID shooting victim

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Solano Jews gather for start of Passover

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Suisun council debates train depot renovation

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
 
County discusses consolidated dispatch

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Miner Slough Bridge to see repairs

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
‘Heaven is for Real’ opens Wednesday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B5

 
Fiesta Days pageant organizers seek contestants

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Easter hunt set for Mare Island

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Crews make quick work of vehicle fire

By Glen Faison | From Page: A6, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Paper Clover Campaign supports Solano County 4-H

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

Coakley joins Solano fair board

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Hundreds flock to Krispy Kreme as it opens doors

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
County to honor Solano educators

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A14

.

US / World

Officials: Huge San Francisco blaze was accidental

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
‘Shrimp Boy’ pleads not guilty in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Immigration activists urge Obama to act boldly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Supremacist faces murder charges in Kansas deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Ukraine: Military secures airport from attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Democrats have outside money advantage – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
First women move into Army platoon artillery jobs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Final deadline arrives for health exchange sign-up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
New LA newspaper embraces print in digital world

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Congress is giving states the transportation blues

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Police: Suspects in killings wore GPS devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

DNA alternative to Pap smear sparks medical debate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Robot sub returns to water after 1st try cut short

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Hamas praises deadly West Bank shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

 
2 dead after ferry sinks off SKorean coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

.

Opinion

State Senate must do more to restore trust

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A13

 
Oh, for the days of Dr. Welby

By Dan K. Thomasson | From Page: A13, 11 Comments

Poor Judgement in Flight 370 column

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13

 
Senseless babble that hurts

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13

 
Expand Red Top Road

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13

Editorial cartoons for April 16, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
What love gives you

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

Today in History for April 16, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
A matzo ball soup fit for a weeknight dinner

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Saving carrots from their usual sugary Easter fate

By Sara Moulton | From Page: B6

 
Sweet pairings for grown-up Easter treats

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

My husband still pays his 45-year-old unemployed son’s bills

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 16, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

Boston Globe wins Pulitzer for bombing coverage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Lindsay Lohan’s mom pleads guilty to DWI in NY

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Strahan’s ‘GMA’ side job confirmed with his visit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Cal hires Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin as coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors trying to move on without Andrew Bogut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Sharks’ Torres uncertain for playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Indians shut out Mustangs

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Ex-Minnesota State, Mankato coach returning to job

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Panthers jump Sabres to win NHL draft lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

More former players sue NHL regarding concussions

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers sign WR Brandon Lloyd to 1-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

MLB marks 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

Twitter buys data analytics partner Gnip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Yellen signals more aggressive stance toward banks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Obituaries

Carolyn McClelland

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Evonne Medina

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7