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Friday, December 06, 2013

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013): An Imperfect Hero

ComicHeroesNormally, when most people think of heroes, they think of Superman, Ironman, Thor, Spider-Man, Captain America, Batman and many more. First, these heroes don’t die. They were conjured up in the minds of people and as long as people are willing to conjure up more stories about these heroes, they will live on. Second, these heroes do not exist. We do not have a Man of Steel flying around with people saying: “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it is Superman!”

Some of these super-heroes have made some real memorable quotes, as non-existent heroes.

"In this world, there is right and there is wrong, and that distinction is not difficult to make." (Superman – D.C. Comics)

"Wars are never won, regardless of who might be the victor. The very act of war is itself a horrible defeat." (Green Lantern – D.C. Comics)

“What do you think the A stands for? France?” (Captain America – Marvel Comics)

nelsonToday, South Africa, and indeed many in the world, mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela. Of Mandela, Desmond Tutu said,

“He is by far the most admired and revered statesperson in the world and one of the greatest human beings to walk this earth.”

On the one-hand he showed amazing statesmanship upon his release from 27 years of prison, in which his attitude helped avert a possible civil war. On the other-hand, he overlooked devastating state policy which helped tumble this nation into moral chaos. While he was a hero to many, he definitely was an imperfect hero. But, then again, all heroes are imperfect, since humanity by definition is a sinful, imperfect race.

Mandela was “no saint,” in his own words. As commander-in-chief of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, he gave many orders in which non-military/non-police citizens were killed. About 1000 people were killed through the violent necklacing method under orders of the ANC. These acts were perpetrated on their own people. Mandela was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of 156 acts of violence and terrorism. Even Amnesty International refused to take his case because they felt that he was no political prisoner, and that he had committed many violent crimes, had a fair trial and received a reasonable sentence. While in prison in the 1980s, then South African President P.W. Botha offered Mandela freedom if he publically renounced terrorist violence. Mandela refused.

While he should be acknowledged for his moves toward reconciliation and his willingness to forgive, he should not be painted with a brush of hagiography. The paintbrush that we should use, must be one of reality, and not a rewriting of Mandela as the greatest man ever to walk this plant, or even this continent. The problem with hagiography is that those who write these incomplete histories usually do not want to look the truth in the face, because how can the one you worship be so human, so sinful, and at times so evil.

True, under his watch, the nation was not thrown into civil war, but do not forget the efforts of F.W. de Klerk who set the movement toward releasing Mandela in motion. Without the foresight of De Klerk, Mandela may have died in prison a long time ago. Mandela did show an attitude of forgiveness toward those who perpetrated a system of government that put many in dire straits. Under Mandela’s rule, there was a fair amount of peace in the country.

So, while we honour Mandela for his accomplishments in South Africa, we must also remember that it was while he was president that he signed abortion on demand and pornography into law.That signature has killed around 1,000,000 babies in some of the most violent ways. Some were ripped apart to ensure the freedom of their mothers from infantyranny! Others were burned to death by a strong salt solution. What has pornography brought us? Freedom of the media, free speech or something similar? Rather, it has brought us men with no control, men who are over-sexualized, men who see women as objects of their sexual satisfaction! And then people wonder why there are so many rapes in this country! HELLO!

While I am no fan of Mandela, it is indeed a sad day for South Africa as a country, for he was certainly the best that the ANC had to offer up thus far in our young “democracy.” I also feel for his family and friends. May they also not just seek solace in a failed party such as the ANC, but may they seek the true Hero of heroes, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.

So, the imperfect hero has died. We honour him for what he has accomplished and for the attitude he held after his release. However, we must not just sweep his “imperfections” under the carpet. Let the man be a man. Let us not worship him, but let the truth remain true.

Finally, South Africa will mourn Nelson Mandela officially for the next 10 days, and then his body will be laid to rest on 15 December 2013.

Read more on Mandela:
Mass Marketing the Mandela Myth
Don't mourn for Mandela
Nelson Mandela: A Missionary Perspective

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