For those of us who grew up in, and also for those of you who lived in any part of, the second half of the 20th century, it is not hyperbole to say we witnessed a miracle.
Everyone, or virtually everyone, expected that there would be a blood bath in South Africa as the white led Apartheid system came under attack. Forces on the right and the left in that country fanned the flames of their separate views that no negotiated solution was possible for South Africa.
But though there were many deaths and many points at which the country came to the brink of civil war, it didn’t happen.
Today’s NY Times
Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
South Africa’s Conqueror of Apartheid
As Fighter, Prisoner, President and Symbol
Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday at 95 and who is largely remembered as a white haired elderly man who spoke softly but with great strength and moral conviction, is credited with saving the country from internal war. Without his leadership, it is hard to imagine that a negotiated settlement between the white South African leadership and the black community could have ever happened.
But Mandela alone did not save South Africa from civil war. There were many others, F.W. de Clerk, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Harry Schwartz, Walter Sisulu, Ruth First, Joe Slovo, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Desmund Tutu, to name just some of the individuals who were instrumental in the miracle that was South Africa step back from exploding.
Mandela deserves all the wonderful tributes that he is receiving now.
But if you have 1:32:22, I urge you to watch the film that best summarizes what happened and what didn’t happen in South Africa over the latter part of the 1900s. This History Channel production certainly features Mandela, but it also includes many others who were involved in rescuing South Africa.
You know I love film(s), and I rate this one the full five stars, which I reserve for only those productions that are truly unique. Whether you think you know the history, know a bit of it, or know little of it, you will come away from this hour and a half truly understanding the miracle of our lifetime.
And with the understanding that other miracles are possible too.