So Nelson Mandela has passed on. This must be the first time ever, in the entire history of the human race, that a politician will be missed.

A friend of mine, Lois Davis, was at his first rally after he’d been released and she filmed the event. It took place in the Soccer City stadium in Soweto.

It’s a remarkable piece of film. You can see all the people pouring towards the stadium in their pickup trucks, or walking along the dusty roads.

As they get near the venue they start to run. There is such excitement in the air, such joy. It’s like a wave of bliss breaking over the landscape. The people are dancing as they go.

Once in the stadium, it is like a rock concert rather than a political rally. Everyone is jigging about, clapping their hands and pumping their fists into the air. How many politicians get this kind of reception?

It wasn’t only that he was a freedom fighter, willing to suffer for his beliefs. It wasn’t only that he spent 27 years in gaol. He was so gracious, so willing to forgive.

He famously refused to condemn his gaolers, saying that they were victims too.

Even as I write the great and the good from all over the world are flocking to South Africa to attend his funeral. Everyone wants a piece of him. But I wonder how much of the real Mandela we are getting in our news reports right now?

In the elevation of Nelson Mandela to virtual sainthood, we seem to have forgotten all the other anti-apartheid fighters who worked alongside him. People like Joe Slovo or Chris Hani, and other members of the South African Communist Party.

In the end, it has to be said, he failed in his mission. He helped to end the racial apartheid of South Africa, only to see it replaced with an economic apartheid.

The country is as divided now as it ever was, but not between black and white any more: between rich and poor. The fact that some of the rich are black, hardly makes a difference.

From The Whitstable Gazette.

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You can see Lois Davis’ film here: