“It felt as if a force field preceded him,” says University of Virginia professor John Edwin Mason, who teaches South African history and met Mandela in the early 1990s. In this remembrance he gives his thoughts on some of the the aspects that made Mandela such an effective leader:
“He had compassion and a sense of justice, but he was also an astute and savvy politician. When he was first imprisoned, he had a reputation as being a hothead, but when he emerged he had a calmness and a political savvy. South Africa needed an elder statesman who could rise above the fray of petty politics. It needed a symbol of a new nation, someone all of South Africa was emotionally invested in…. This was a nation that was almost at war with itself, and in some ways the police and the security forces were an army of occupation. This was a country desperately in need of healing. He was the person who could help that process.”
Notes to the Future: Words of Wisdom is a collection of 300 quotations from Mandela, including his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.
Saving Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial and the Fate of South Africa shows how Mandela escaped a death sentence due to the powerful pressure of the ANC.
The Mirror at Midnight: A South African Journey depicts how the dreaded apartheid system began, with Boers defeated the Zulu nation for control of their lands.
Footnote: Idris Elba is currently appearing as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris as his second wife, Winnie, in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. He said it changed his life. Anyone seen it, or planning to?