A world at war and plagued by individual, political and economic antagonism is mourning the death of the hero of the anti-apartheid struggle. President Obama says Nelson Mandela was one of the most courageous and influential persons of our time. Influential?
Yes, Nelson Mandela was a living example of how to overcome the fundamental violation of human rights, apartheid, by rejecting violence. In mourning his death we all, every individual and the world’s powerful and leading figures, have to learn and put to practice the example set by Madiba, the Prince, the Advocate, the Prisoner, the President, the Human being, Nelson Mandela.
For me, the most important thing to learn is how Mr Mandela, going through his deep inner struggle from non-violence to violence and back again to non-violence and even reconciliation, transformed himself for the sake of his central belief in basic human values. He and the ANC, acquitted in the Treason Trial in 1961 of promoting violence, decided at that moment in time to use violence against the South African Apartheid System. After his sentencing at the Rivonia trial in 1963, the prisoner Nelson Mandela had to stand up to and go through not only his own inner conflict but the conflict in the ANC itself, until it was possible to come to the great broad-minded openness to reconcile and cooperate with his earlier enemies for the sake of the well-being of his people and all humankind. Rightly so, it was this central achievement of Mr Mandela’s that was honoured by the Peace Prize. The real honour we need yet to bestow on him is a much wider and more convinced following of the example Mr Nelson Mandela has set for the whole world.
Aachen, December 6th 2013,
Guenter E. Thie
Dr. Guenter E. Thie, born in Loeningen in Northern Germany
Studies in Catholic Theology, Economy and Sociology
1979 – 2000 Misereor Africa Department desk officer for several English speaking countries in Eastern and Southern Africa
1982 till 1994 specifically desk officer for the region of Southern Africa and during this time member and president of the CIDSE-Southern Africa Working Group
2000 consultant for conflict transformation and peace
2009 retired, living in Aachen, Germany