Presidents, athletes, and people around the world are paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, demonstrating the universal appeal of Mandela's life and legacy in the struggle against social injustice and for human rights (AP). Presidents Obama and Xi hailed Mandela, Ukrainian protestors took a moment to recall South Africa's first black leader, and boxer Muhammad Ali said that Mandela "made us realize we are our brother's keeper and that our brothers come in all colors." Mandela, born in 1918, guided South Africa from apartheid to multiracial democracy after emerging from nearly three decades in prison with a message of reconciliation that helped the country avoid a civil war (Reuters).
"The core of Mandela's legacy—non-racial democracy based on the rule of law—endures. At the time of Mandela's inauguration, whites by and large did not see apartheid as evil. Hence, it is significant that by 2012, polling data from the Reconciliation Barometer shows that 83.8 percent of South Africans (including all races) now see apartheid as a crime against humanity. A substantial majority of white South Africans share this view," writes CFR Senior Fellow John Campbell.
"After he initiated negotiations for the end of apartheid and led South Africa into a new era of freedom with a progressive Constitution that recognizes the rights of everyone (including homosexuals, another admirable contradiction for an African aristocrat), there was, of course, euphoria in the country. But that was a long time ago. With the rampant corruption of the current ruling elite, and the fact that very little has changed for a majority of black people, the euphoria has been replaced with disillusionment," writes Zakes Mda in the New York Times.