Jul 23 2013

the peculiar politics of Mandela’s demise

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 3:03 PM

Nelson Mandela’s prolonged end-of-life experience carries a certain poetic resonance. Having had many years of freedom stolen by the apartheid government of South Africa, Mandela and his people want to extend his life in freedom for as long as possible. Fair enough. But Mandela’s peculiar medical limbo carries another possible reading: that Mandela’s political heirs are not yet ready to go forth without him alive.
The African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party of South Africa, has of course been rehearsing for Mandela’s departure ever since the great “Madiba” surrendered the presidency of South Africa after a single term in 1999. Yet the years of presence that Mandela has gifted his nation seem nonetheless to be insufficient foundation for an ANC whose legitimacy continues to rest almost solely on its “liberation” credentials. Governing South Africa has proved far more difficult than the transition from apartheid to majority rule. Perhaps the pedestrian character of ordinary life would always make the removal of oppressive white rule seem far more dramatic. Yet nearly 20 years into South Africa’s great experiment in democracy, only Nelson Mandela seems to have live up to anything near the enormous expecatations of South Africans and the world community.
The ANC, now led by the very earthly Jacob Zuma, has little time to get its act together before “saint” Mandela exits the stage for good. In lingering a bit longer on the material stage, is Mandela doing the ANC a final favor?

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