The difference between a selfless leader – in comparison to a selfish leader?
The renunciation of violence was one of the defining moments of the political process, and earned Mandela and de Klerk the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
Forging a political path
The transition formally turned South Africa into a democracy, bringing in one of the world’s most progressive constitutions and allowing blacks not only into polling booths, but also into the corridors of power.
In doing so, South Africa also lost its global pariah status. Apartheid had been punished by sanctions including a trade embargo and a ban on direct flights to dozens of countries, like the United States.
A global player
In his inauguration speech in 1994, Mandela heralded the country’s re-entry onto the world stage, saying it should become “a rainbow nation” that would never again be seen as “the skunk of the world.”
He said: “We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”
Peace and forgiveness
Mandela’s biggest influence on the new South Africa was his personal determination that anger over the crimes of the past, including his 27 years as a political prisoner, should not motivate future laws and actions. Key to this was his 1995 establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that investigated historic human rights violations and gave vent to grievances.
A cultural power
That same year, South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup – the first event of its kind to be held there since the end of the apartheid-era sporting boycott. Along with cricket, rugby was a game played and enjoyed almost exclusively by whites, making the event tough for Mandela’s fledgling democratic government to “sell” to a wider population.
Despite resistance on both sides, Mandela swung the rainbow nation behind both the team – the Springboks – and the tournament, which South Africa won. That achievement, documented in the 2009 film “Invictus” starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, illustrated the extent of South Africa’s rehabilitation and also set the country back on the path of sporting success.
A generous soul
Mandela’s other key legacy is his extensive charitable work, including the creation of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and 46664 – the HIV-AIDS initiative named after his prison number. In 2009, the United Nations declared that July 18, Mandela’s birthday, would be a worldwide day of community service known as Nelson Mandela International Day.