Friday, December 06, 2013


I am hearing on the radio & reading on Twitter a number of tributes to Nelson Mandela that speak of how, in the 1980s, some people in the UK supported Mandela and the ANC whilst others regarded him as a terrorist.

With respect, Nelson Mandela lived reconciliation.

Isn't the point of the man who wore the Springbok shirt at the Rugby world cup final that sometimes (and this may well be such a fitting time) we forgive one another the past in order to have a chance of writing a different future? Such a man does not belong to the few.

And though he encouraged the remembering, it was to aid reconciliation, not to punish those who had failed him. We honour Mandela with his agenda; even if his great dream for his nation has (for now) only been realised with patchy success, his global legacy is how we all live reconciliation.

If some who got it wrong thirty years ago have since understood and changed, this is a tribute to the generous forgiveness of a true hero of our times. Small-minded reminders of bleaker choices put me in mind of something my grandmother used to say:

"Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

Or, perhaps, better:

"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner." (The Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

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