Did Mandela do enough?

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Did Mandela do enough?

by Moses Magadza


dignidadrebelde under a Creative Commons Licence

When South African President Jacob Zuma said that Nelson Mandela had died, he praised him as South Africa’s ‘greatest son’. As the people of the world start to accept Mandela’s death, we are now thinking about what he did and what he left behind.

It is clear that Mandela was the last of Africa’s politicians who had strong values and made things change in South Africa. He was the longest-serving political prisoner in Africa in recent history. He was a perfect model of resistance against oppression and racism and of the way to bring together people with very different ideas.

Mandela also introduced modern democracy in South Africa. South Africa became independent in 1994. And it was not possible for a new president to come to power without violence or complaints of dishonest voting or other wrongdoing. We can say that Mandela showed the way for leaders and for people wanting to be leaders. He finished his time as president and no one rejected him. When he left power, he let the new rulers continue in their own way.

His work and the way he led the country helped the young and old, female and male. Mandela allowed a discussion about gay and lesbian rights in South Africa. The country now allows same-sex marriages. So Mandela was for including everyone in society.

He ensured that there was some equality between the sexes. If we look at the African National Congress (ANC), which he led, we see that it represented women very well and in South Africa today women have important positions in government and industry. The country has one of the highest numbers of women in parliament in Africa and a good number of women have jobs as ministers and other important positions.

It is difficult to say what kind of laws came in when Nelson Mandela was president and how much they helped women and children. But with education, Mandela and his government did well. Today there are many female students in universities. This is a very important achievement.

Mandela did many good things but he seemed to forget some things. For example, he did not recognise what many countries did and suffered as South Africa worked hard to become independent. These were countries like Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. We would expect Mandela to do more in the journey started by another African, Kwame Nkrumah. He said that the independence of Ghana would not be good enough until the rest of Africa was independent.

One negative situation Mandela has left is that South Africa is today closed to the rest of Africa. It is more open to white people than to Africans. It is more likely that you will need to show a transit visa in Johannesburg if you are a black person from Africa than if you are from Washington.

One would expect Mandela to have recognised the support of countries that helped South Africa when they needed it. The end of apartheid did not come only by Mandela being in prison for 27 years. Many other people and countries – especially the Frontline States – did a lot to support South Africa.

Before his death, Mandela was in hospital for a long time. Not many African leaders visited him or said very much about his health. We can understand this as respect for his privacy and that the end was near. Mandela was the man who once said that one of his greatest regrets was that he was never the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. But the discussion about what he did for South Africa will continue for a long time.

Moses Magadza is a Zimbabwean journalist and editor. He is studying in the University of Namibia’s School of Postgraduate Studies

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see: http://newint.org/blog/majority/2013/12/13/mandela-legacy/