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Nelson Mandela

In 2000, our editors wrote: “Will Nelson Mandela ever stop astounding and humbling the world by the force of his moral vision and the transformative authority of his personal courage and conviction?” The question was in response to Mandela's efforts to end Brundi's civil war, but it expresses what has been said in so many of the tributes in the week since his death, in wonder over how much he was able to accomplish. Commonweal over the years chronicled Mandela's fight against apartheid, his imprisonment, and his release and subsequent election as president of South Africa. But we'd like to single out this brief item our editors composed after Mandela's 1990 U.S. tour. Read it here.

About the Author

Ellen B. Koneck runs Special Projects at Commonweal and teaches in the Catholic Studies department at Sacred Heart University. You can follow her on Twitter.



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Even if you do nothing else today, be sure to take two minutes (it’s even a bit less than that) to see this excerpt from an interview in which John Burns, former N.Y. Times South Africa bureau chief, speaks about Mandela:

Here are two excellent pieces about Mandela:

“Nelson Mandela: the freedom fighter who embraced his enemies”

“Mandela was just a man, and that made what he did extraordinary”

Both pieces are by John Carlin, author of Knowing Mandela: A Personal Portrait.  Carlin also wrote Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation.  “This wonderful book,” said the N.Y. Times, “describes Mandela's methodical, improbable and brilliant campaign to reconcile resentful blacks and fearful whites around a sporting event, a game of rugby."  The book was the basis for the film Invictus.

When Carlin left South Africa, Mandela said, “The way in which you wrote and the way in which you carried out your task in this country was absolutely magnificent … absolutely inspiring. You have been very courageous.”

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