South Africa Under Mandela

A picture of Nelson Mandela from 2008. (Creative Commons photo. Attribution to author and info can be found here)

Mandela made sure that his presidency was for ALL South Africans through a bunch of his actions during his presidency; not the least of which was naming De Klerk his deputy president. They created a new constitution that gave equality to all people in South Africa and he chose to sign it in Sharpeville due to the significance of what happened there. He was highly respected by all groups in South Africa due to the way he handled all these new issues. He did, however, get a fair amount of criticism for his lack of action on the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Instead of having people carry out their own acts of revenge against those who had wronged them in the past, the Mandela government decided on creating the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This was a court-like body that would hear testimony from not only those who had been wronged, but those who had committed the acts in the first place. All people were given full immunity for any crimes they committed as long as they were open an honest about what they had done. The stories were heartbreaking and it was a normal occurrence for many in the audience to be in tears at the recounting of events that occurred. While this system had obvious faults, it was able to keep the violence, that would have been understandable, from breaking out.

Mandela retired from office after his first term because he was so old when he began his term (77). He traveled the world speaking about human rights for the rest of his life, being a huge name in the international community on this topic. Mandela passed away in 2013 and triggered 10 days of mourning in South Africa. Leaders from all over the world attended his funeral and gave public condolences to the family and the loss for the country.

He passed away as 1 of the most respected leaders in the world, receiving more than 100 awards of the years on top of his Nobel Peace Prize. He was a

strong critic of any international leader who he felt was against any form of human rights. One of the main countries he questioned was the US based on a few of our actions over the years. He would often speak of our decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan during WWII, but also criticized President Bush for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The fact that Pres. Bush had decided to invade despite the fact that the UN refused to approve this invasion was a key problem for him. He even insinuated that this may be because of the fact that the UN leader Kofi Annan was of African heritage, claiming that Bush was biased against him.

Mandela did have a lot of issues unresolved due to his effort to be understanding of the other groups. One of the biggest issues was the problem of land use and the possibility of redistribution of land. To this day, 93% of the land is owned by the descendants of white settlers, which is an issue that continues to be brought up in the country.