Three remarkable events from the past year stand out from my perspective as the head of an international development agency. All made headlines at the time, but those headlines merely touched the surface of the events' profound ramifications as we look forward to 2014.
Snapshots of Nelson Mandela continue to swell the collective, global memory as deeply personal tributes pour onto the web. In the Canadian psyche too, is the imprint of a giant. It happens to be another man who made news this month: Roméo Dallaire, the retired Lieutenant-General who witnessed genocide in Rwanda.
The world said goodbye to a legendary figure on December 5th. Nelson Mandela was an icon not only for his anti-apartheid
Talk to white South Africans, and many will recall how they feared the prospect of Nelson Mandela's presidency. They weren't
Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s biggest champion and first black president, recently passed away at the age of 95 on December
There is no discussion of the fact that part of the reason Mandela was sent to prison was because he was responsible for bombing a power plant. Though we seem to like to imagine that Mandela brought change to South Africa with nothing but wise words and a kind, grandfatherly smile, the truth is very different. Mandela fought for his freedom, tooth and nail.
The South African Reconciliation Barometer, a survey of racial and social attitudes, consistently finds a deeply divided nation. Less than 40 per cent of South Africans socialize with people of another race, while only 22 per cent of white South Africans and a fifth of black South Africans live in racially integrated neighbourhoods.
You never took the easy route, you understood that great anger and violence can never build a nation, and you united a divided country. It is time Canada learned from you and reached out in friendship, nation to nation, to our First Peoples. Thank you for teaching us grace.
Since I read Mandela's book, Long Walk to Freedom, in Iran's Evin prison in 2000, I felt stronger and more committed to my activism work. He gave me hope and power to fight against the Iranian dictatorship. What's even more amazing is that every one of my cell mates were reading his book as well. I'll never forget what his words gave me.
The Canadian media has missed, or, rather, sidestepped the opportunity to truly learn the lessons Madiba taught the world. Politicians and establishment hacks invariably give empty words. The juxtaposition of Canada's multicultural crown and the apartheid-like pyramid of pundits is a cross Canadians will have to bear. But, there are a few notable (positive) exceptions in the coverage of Mandela's death.