Friday, January 28, 2005

Today I finished reading Long Walk to Freedom, the very impressive autobiographical account of the life and work of Nelson Mandela. An autobiography is, understandably, biased. If you write an account of your own life, you are not going to speak ill of yourself. Yet, reading through the book, it struck me that Mandela admitted that he had made mistakes. I found the account of his life imbued with a sense of modesty, humility and dignity that you do not find in many politicians.

Mandela showed himself to be a man of another order when he did not turn the table to oppress the minority whites when he became president but, rather, called everyone to the table.

It is one of the interesting stories of our time: a man who spent 27 1/2 years as a political prisoner of his country because of his fight against apartheid ends up, in his old age, the president of that country. One of his deputy presidents is the previous president who headed the party that had put the system in place.