On the 21st and 22nd of June 1990 (about four months after his release from jail in SA), Nelson Mandela agreed to an ABC Nightline Interview with Ted Koppel which was conducted using the townhall meeting model.
This interview was candid and very powerful. Remember Mandela had just come out of prison, De Klerk and his NP were still reeling from what to give away and what not to – yielding to both internal and international pressure world wide, and some quarters were very “concerned” about this man and his organization ANC and what that could spell for the future of South Africa.
Well, in this 1 hour+ interview, you get a feel of the man, his charm, his pragmatic approach to leadership, his depth of character and most powerfully, his wisdom.
One of the most moving quotes I picked from him is this one…”Any man who changes his principles depending on whom he’s dealing with , is not a man who is fit to lead!”
Yet, today, 31 years after that date and what we see in South Africa brings to mind what we have been crying about concerning African leadership.
Again, let me quote what one Victor Mello (on YouTube) stated (under the comments)”The ANC of today really destroyed the beautiful legacy they had. It’s so sad.” To which someone answered, “Greed and corruption = African leaders”
I believe we are on the brink of Africa’s Second Renaissance. I also believe that Mandela did what he could then. He was caught between a rock and a hard place. Believe it or not, so was De Klerk.
Even now as sectors of South Africa are angry over the declaration of a state funeral for De Klerk, we must still acknowledge that both men had to make some very very hard decisions and give some concessions.
It is now up to the current leadership to work at correcting the kink in the developmental pipe not just in SA, but Africa as a whole to change this terrible narrative (18 of the world’s poorest countries are here).That kink must go.
As for Mandela, by my estimation he is one of the greatest leaders of the 20th Century and will forever remain one of my all time Pan Africanist leaders that I revere and honor as a great hero!