December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela during a meeting of the Mandela Rhodes Scholars of 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa in March, 2008. (EPA)
Nelson Mandela during a meeting of the Mandela Rhodes Scholars of 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa in March, 2008. (EPA)

Nelson Mandela was a saint. Imprisoned for 27 years in a tiny cell for having the temerity to demand freedom, justice and equality for the black majority of South Africa. Yet, Madiba emerged in 1990 without anger or bitterness. And as its first black president, Mandela transformed his nation from an oppressive regime to one of the most inclusive democracies on the planet.

The Post’s editorial gets at my overall thoughts on Mandela: “In his person and his policies, he set out to show those on the other side that they had little to fear. He sought unity rather than revenge, honesty and understanding rather than the naked exercise of power. These are all fine abstractions, of course, but never so clear to us as when there is a living figure to exemplify them.”

People lead movements all the time. Few people see their movements lead to real change. Fewer still achieve what Mandela achieved. Through sacrifice and determination, perseverance and patience, he led a successful movement for change that is the new South Africa. Most importantly, Mandela was not taken by an assassin’s bullet. He departed this life at a time of his choosing. May he rest in peace.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.