I read a news item in The Rock River Times July 16-22, 2003, about the celebration of the 85th anniversary of Nelson Mandela, a statesman and human being par excellence of the 21st century.
As reported, every South African of whatever religion, race or creed is fully involved in participating in the celebrations.
In a world where even in the 21st century with the most advanced human knowledge on all accounts, science, sociology, philosophy and psychology, to find a human being absolutely emancipated of all complexes, fixations and biases is a rarity. Mandela, after suffering 27 years of captivity at the hands of a racist white governing minority, after winning the first democratic elections with a thumping majority, had the moral courage and exceptional balance of mind to take his captor and minority leader as his vice president while as per ruling electoral formulae, he had no obligation to do so.
He was exceptionally successful in managing to restrain the upsurge of revenge and reprisal of the majority locals against the minority, colonialist whites by inculcating balance, tolerance and relationship void of prejudices and bias through his charismatic personality.
He could have been lifetime president, genuinely voted by his worshiping people, the majority of whom took him for a deity, but as human being par excellence, he preferred the next generation leader, his successor Mbieki, to be elected by withdrawing from the election arena.
Thus, he was a precedent setter for the covetous and complied leaders of the world who are possessed by the craze for power and try to cling to it like madmen even when they are kicked out through legally defined power process or opposition forces.
Bill Clinton, ex-president of the U.S., deserves full credit for delivery of his first speech, and so do 1,600 in the audience to pay tribute to a statesman par excellence. President Bush would have gained much credit if he would have thought of paying tribute to a model of leadership at a time when he is a target of all kinds of criticism and investigations for his recent decision of the Iraq war and other allied issues. But he was so much annoyed by Mandelas vocal and loud opposition to the Iraq war that he could not even reconcile to visit him when he visited Mebeki against the living traditions. All world leaders when visiting South Africa feel honored when they can manage a meeting with Mandela. This is reflective of the degree of statesmanship and mental emancipation expected of the head of the only superpower of the world.