“He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages” – US President Barack Obama
Madiba is gone. He will be missed and remembered forever.
As I have explained a number of times already, I must confess that before going to England to study theology, my impression of Mandela,rooted in the common prejudices of American inspired conservative evangelicalism, was that is a mere ‘rotten communist’ and nothing more. All his fight to freedom from apartheid did not have much value for me. He was a leftist and ended the conversation for me.
Then, in England, I realised that the socialist movement was not created by atheist communists, but about Christians who tried to temper the violent excesses of wild capitalism, in order to help bring a better life for the poor and marginalised that the utter selfishness and greed at the core of capitalism left behind.
I have also seen, to my surprise, that my British Christian friends really venerated Mandela. This made me look again into this and I have realised, with shame, the injustice I was doing to this great man, and to the truth, because of my ideological blindness. This experience, and other similar ones made me extremely critical to all ideologies.
Some years ago I have had the privilege to spending a few days with Charles Villa-Vicencio, the last president of Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, who knew Mandela very well (you may read HERE an extended interview taken by Krista Tippett, at One Being, one of my favourite programmes from American Public Radio). I was again impressed by the great humility and vision of this great man, about whom I have written in different places on my blog (as a simple search could reveal).
He is today one of my heroes, because of the consistent way in which he promoted peace and reconciliation in his country, on the footsteps of the Christ-like principles of non-violent resistance illustrated before him by Mahatma Gandhi. We have expected to see a blood bath and lots of revenge in post-apartheid South Africa. All this was avoided because of people like him and Desmond Tutu, who took their inspiration from the example of Jesus Christ. This is even more remarcable of we thing that Mandela began as a Marxist and could have easily followed the violent means of that criminal ideology.
If you don;t know much about Mandela, read HERE his obituary in The Guardian. You may also read HERE an article about him in The Huffigton Post.
And, if you have not yet seen the movie Invinctus, on the life of Mandela (role played by Morgan Freeman), maybe now is the time to see it.
May God rest Mandela in peace! It is our duty to keep his memory alive.