Last night Nelson Mandela celebrated his 90th birthday at a star studded event in central London. I have an enormous amount of respect for Nelson Mandela. He is a man who faced tyranny, opression, false imprisonment and came out of it all with a kind and reconciliatory heart always working with friends and foes for the freedom of the South African people. I am fully aware that this stance is at odds with the stance of the Thatcher government of the 1980’s however in this instance I have to fundamentally disagree with Mrs Thatcher.
Thatcher once branded Nelson Mandela’s ANC as a ‘terrorist organisation’ however I believe Nelson Mandela was and remains a beacon of hope. In the midst of the Cold War it was easy to view Mandela as a potenital communist threat however I believe the Thatcher government made a big faux pas, and her support of the neo liberal apartheid regime was misguided. He has the capacity to inspire millions of people with the very mention of his name and for the freedom of millions of his country men, Nelson Mandela gave his freedom for 27 years. Upon his release from Robben Island, that was his home for 18 of the 27 years of his imprisonment, he offered forgiveness and compassion to his captors and got straight back to work for the cause he left 27 years previous. Mandela struggled tirelessly for human rights and fought for those who could not or would not fight for themselves.
Nelson Mandela taught the world two important lessons. If you want political change you have to have two great qualities: patience and humility. Mandela has both in abudence and I for one was proud that Britain took the time to honour this great man.