Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

Just for once, we don’t have a procurement angle on a news story, but I thought we should mention Nelson Mandela.

What it might be worth saying, for our younger readers, is this. To anyone going through their formative years of social and political awareness in the 1970s (I was at university in the late 70s), it seemed inevitable that the end point of South African apartheid was going to be some sort of bloody struggle. Civil war of some sort, or at best a ‘terrorist’ type situation, was the likelihood, and if eventually a calmer status quo was ever reached, it would be after many lives were lost.

So Mandela’s achievement was in the lives he saved by not doing what he could so easily have done. With help from others, he created an environment where South Africa could make a peaceful transition that few of us would have thought possible in the 70s.

And he taught us that resentment, hatred, regret, envy and the desire for revenge can be  hugely negative for the owner of those emotions, and that forgiveness and reconciliation can be more powerful than any of those.  That's something I personally have to remember from time to time, but it is a great message for all of us.

Finally, has anyone else of the last 100 years inspired so many great songs? Let’s leave it with a few examples – good grief, even Simple Minds came up with a excellent song! So here is our tribute to the great man.

The Specials gave us this classic that everyone will know.

There’s some argument about whether Labi Siffre was inspired by Mandela or the South African struggle more generally but it is a truly wonderful song – one of my all time favourites.

And finally, here’s Johnny Clegg with Asimbonanga. Clegg was born in the UK but moved to South Africa in his youth, and his band were of mixed race even during apartheid days, which led to their regular arrest and harassment from the authorities.  This lovely clip features the great man himself.

RIP Nelson Mandela.

First Voice

  1. Peter Kobryn:

    Elegantly put….hear hear

    Excellent music choice too….

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