6 December 2013
At a time when the world is claiming Nelson Mandela, it is important to remember that he belonged, firstly, to South Africa. His courage in facing the evil oppression and violence of Apartheid, the bravery of engaging in talks with that government (at a time when official ANC policy was never to hold such talks), and the statesmanship with which he led the country through the transition to democracy and reconciliation, stand as a testament to his vision and commitment to a country based on equality and dignity. But whilst his achievements and legacy will be felt most keenly in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was a global politician. He was not just a great African leader, but a great world leader, and one of the giants of the twentieth century. Our thoughts are with Graca Machel, the Mandela family, and all those in South Africa at this difficult time.
Dr Mike Jennings
Chair, Centre of African Studies