Friday, December 6, 2013 at 6:50 AM

Mandela Is Dead

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

His family finally let him go….

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 5.55.01 PMCondolences to my friends and comrades in South Africa; although, it speaks volumes about what a beloved and influential man Nelson Mandela was that people all around the world are grieving his loss just as much.

In fact, so inspiring was Mandela that, in his tribute just moments ago, President Obama cited participation in anti-apartheid protests as his first foray into political activism and public service.

Like Obama:

I am proud of the fact that I participated in the US-led international protests during the 1980s that precipitated the end of White rule (Apartheid) in South Africa. I remember thinking back then that a South Africa ruled by liberated Blacks could become the beacon of hope and the land of opportunity for Africans that America has been for people all over the world.

(“In South Africa, Xenophobic Blacks Prove Almost as Deadly as Apartheid Whites,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 23, 2008)

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read any of my commentaries on his dying days that I was more relieved than sad when I heard the news of his passing. I opened one of those commentaries as follows:

I have no doubt that when the time finally comes, South Africans will put on a state funeral for Nelson Mandela that will make those Catholics put on for dead popes seem modest and irreverent…

But this will stand in glaring contrast to the way these same South Africans have disrespected him during these last years and days of his life. And it is particularly disheartening that his family members are responsible for most of this disrespect.

(“Who the Hell Does Winnie Mandela Think She Is,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 3, 2013)

imagesSure enough, reports are that we’re in for 10 days of mourning and tributes until his burial. The highlight will surely be the unprecedented assemblage of heads of state, from every corner of the earth, at the state funeral I referenced above.

But a constant, if not irritating, feature will surely be public figures, of every stripe, rushing to eulogize him (in every medium from TV to Twitter) in ways that flatter them more than honor him.

Ironically enough, this began when South Africa’s hopelessly compromised president, Jacob Zuma, announced the news of Mandela’s death this afternoon. For it is no exaggeration to say that Zuma was never more presidential than when he proceeded to deliver a truly stirring tribute on behalf of his people.

But, honestly, I can think of no better way for those of us outside South Africa to pay our respects than to go to cinema to see Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom when it is released. (That will be on Christmas Day in the U.S. and on January 3 in the UK).

In the meantime, you can spare yourself all kinds of self-serving reflections on Mandela by being very discriminating while watching TV and trolling social media.

That said, I shall end this appropriately modest tribute by sharing why I am feeling more relieved than sad.

There’s a reason why some of us execute living wills: we expect them to spare us the indignities of spending our last days in a sterile ICU hooked up to all kinds of death-defying tubes that do nothing more than prolong our suffering.

This is why I was so dismayed by a CNN report today that Madiba spent the last six months of his life on ventilators to defy his failed lungs and on dialysis machines to defy his failed kidneys.

Frankly, knowing this, I don’t see how anyone cannot feel more relief than sadness that these indignities and his prolonged suffering are finally over.

But, apropos of my plaintive commentary “It’s Time to Let Mandela Go,” it’s perversely coincidental that, while his daughter was on one TV channel in London (at the red-carpet premiere of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) assuring the world that Mandela was doing fine, Zuma was on another back home in South Africa informing the world that he was dead. He was 95.

May he, at long last, rest in peace.

Related commentaries:
Mandela’s body goes home
It’s time

* This commentary is originally published yesterday, Thursday, at 8:02 pm

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