Happy 90th Birthday, Nelson Mandela!

Today’s the day to wish Nelson Mandela a “Very Happy 90th Birthday!”

A recent BBC Radio4 ‘Any Questions?’ programme was asked why established democracies don’t seem to get politicians of the stature of Nelson Mandela.
A great question!

It occurred to me that Nelson Mandela was locked in prison for 30 years, and then became a President for three years. In other words, he had 10 years to think, for every one year he practiced as a politician.

We are probably lucky if our politicians are given one year to think, for every 10 that they act.

Of course I am not suggesting that we lock all our aspiring politicians in gaol!

But the shear breathtaking audacity and generosity behind the concept of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, shows the power of thought – if only we can give ourselves sufficient time.

And action without sufficient thought, can be pretty dangerous – especially in the realm of world politics.

What would be YOUR answer be to the question “Why is it that established democracies don’t seem to get politicians of the stature of Nelson Mandela?”

Do share your thoughts.

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13 Responses to “Happy 90th Birthday, Nelson Mandela!”

  1. Christian Says:

    Firstly, there are no established democracies that are currently capable of producing the likes of another Mandela. The very idea of “democracy” is based on a perceived status quo, and Mandela was never a man who gave much credence to such limiting views. The current politicians are far too concerned with winning votes, and therefore “fitting in” to whatever the current trend is. Mandela, like MLK Jr., dared to eschew the system in hopes of building a newer and better world.

  2. catchthevision Says:

    Thanks for your challenging comments Christian – the ‘market-isation’ (if there is such a word) of politics seems to have significantly changed the behavior of so many.

    (For those who are not familiar with the abbreviation, MLK Jr refers to Martin Luther king Junior.)

  3. stevelowton Says:

    For me modern day democracy is liimited by the needs to stay in power, so there is no space for the story line of a Nelson Mandela to emarge. We have to find other ways for stories to be told and the ordinary voice to be heard. Challenging stuff and good conversation!

  4. defencedebates Says:

    There is abig crisis in the world right now wiht the quality of leaders around the world!Mother nature is cruel with us, she left only a fiew people with those special qualitys.But Nelson Mandela is just one in this world!
    Maybe the modern society likes much better this type of new leader wit less real values but with strong image and words!I have an example of new leader in my country Traian Basescu, another one is in france Sarkozy!I admire them for trying, but trying is not good enough!this generation can give excellency and needs excellence!What do you say?Still there are countrys who have great leaders, but you can count them on youre fingers!
    What do you say?
    And by the way many thnks for youre comment on my blog!can’t wait for the next opinion!
    alice

  5. defencedebates Says:

    sorry for my bad english i am in a big rush!
    a beautiful weekend to everybody!

  6. catchthevision Says:

    Thanks for these very thought provoking messages.

    In pursuing this issue I’ve come across reference to the very challenging situation in South Africa now, with extreme poverty sitting cheek by jowl with extraordinary wealth.

    Democracies and market economies seem inter-twined, and the gap between poor and rich just seems to grow and grow. Ultimately, this feels like we are storing up major problems for the future, as well as tolerating huge levels of human suffering now.

    Do we need to start trying to answer why free market economies seem to make it so difficult to look at the issue of poverty?

  7. Rethabile Says:

    I sometimes think that Nelson Mandela wouldn’t have achieved as much if he’d stayed free. Not to belittle all that he’s done. But I think, for example, they would have killed him, just like Biko and Hani, and so many others.

    When my father was in prison (in neighbouring Lesotho), a lot of atrocities happened to the ones left outside, the ones that were initially thought “lucky” and “safe”.

    That’s what I mean in the case of Mandela. They didn’t kill him, but instead, as he sat in gaol, his stature grew, and became bigger than anything they’d ever seen. And they had to set him free. And the rest is history. Literally.

    Happy Birthday, Nelson Mandela!

  8. catchthevision Says:

    Thanks Rethabile.

    There’s a lovely story about someone asking a lady of 104years, to what she attributed her long life. And she replied “Not buying a ticket to sail on the Titanic”!

    Life is amazingly unpredictable – and somehow anger and hatred seems to blind people to the fact that their attempts to make THEMSELVES stronger might just backfire? The astonishing thing is that, somehow, from such a position of perceived weakness, Nelson Mandela just grew and grew, to achieve so much. It’s such a tragedy that so many other courageous souls were not around to see the results of their efforts as well.

  9. netsysconhr Says:

    With all due respect to Nelson Mandela, Current leaders have to cope up with a more conscious and reactive world these days. Also current politicians are leading for a selfish motive. Its like 50% so that the politicians name shines aided by media and rest for the country. Well this is my perception. And about visits in prison, we in India are fed up of criminal turned ministers. I love my country though.

  10. catchthevision Says:

    I’ve pursued this discussion on the blog http://chrisreynolds.wordpress.com where Chris (I hope I’ve got the name right) suggested that many talented individuals shy away those who follow it (media, partisan supporters etc) :-) are so ruthless. I have commented that our media is very intrusive and destructive, and many ‘ordinary’ and good people wouldn’t want to open themselves and their families to that sort of scrutiny.
    If you have any thoughts on this, do say and/or comment on the blog http://chrisreynolds.wordpress.com at the posting Mandela’s 8 Lessons of Leadership, which makes fascinating reading.

  11. Dives Says:

    A factor in the Mandela case is that by the time he was in power, he knew he was old, and could afford to take the long view. So many politicians (as opposed to statesmen) are short-termists [I nearly wrote termites - how surreal would that be?]

  12. Plokmaster Says:

    Nice post! Thanks for the info… Have a nice day!

  13. diamondsandrust Says:

    Yes, in prison Mr Mandela had time to think,and see there was always a spot of goodness in everyone.Sometimes even in his captors.
    The answer as to why there are so few like him is that there is usually too much money at stake that is not there own. Politicians at the level we are talking about are sitting too comfortably,and as Aneurin Bevan once said “You can’t have the crown of thorns and the thirty pieces of silver.

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