COREN: Mandela’s legacy overstated

- December 13th, 2013

South Africa still in search of salvation

by Michael Coren
In Britain, a man was arrested, questioned for eight hours, had his computer confiscated for investigation and was DNA tested and fingerprinted. His crime? He made a joke about how his laptop took so long to shut down he should call it Nelson Mandela.

Not funny, perhaps tasteless, but completely innocuous. Britain is submerged in political correctness these days, but the incident also says a great deal about the Mandela hagiography industry.

He was a man of immense personal grace and dignity, with an ability to forgive that was magnificent. He was often gentle, kind and farsighted, and envisaged a free, liberal, and strong South Africa free of hatred. He also became the icon of the struggle against the evils of apartheid.

But he also left a country internationally notorious for murder, rape, AIDS, poverty, carjackings, unemployment, corruption and racial division.Indeed there are black leaders who argue that their people, while obviously victimized by institutionalized racism, were economically better off under apartheid than under the ANC.

They point to 30% unemployment rates in the country as a whole, rising to beyond 40% for the black community.

They argue the rights of black workers are as minimal as they were under minority rule, highlighted by the police killing of 44 striking miners in Marikana in 2012.

Housing for the majority of black South Africans is still deplorable, townships have improved hardly at all and violence within poor black communities is endemic.

Mandela can’t be blamed for all of the failures of his successors, and the challenges of the country are enormous, but his period as president was far from stellar. And while attempts at reconciliation were exemplary, he was weak on economic policy and failed to halt the clawing corruption of the ANC government.

The country’s foreign policy is also a disaster, witnessing an increasingly intimate relationship with China and a refusal to condemn that country’s support for murderous, oppressive regimes in Sudan, Burma, and Zimbabwe. South Africa has also become a base for numerous Islamic jihadist groups, to the point where Israelis have been advised not to visit the country due to security concerns.

The added tragedy is that none of these negative trends show any signs of reversing, and South Africans — white and black — live in fear of the most sadistic crimes and assume that an inefficient and often indifferent police force will never catch the culprits.

The whites who stayed in South Africa tended to be those who had hopes and optimism for the new rainbow nation, but in a recent survey more than 20% of them said they believed apartheid to have been superior to what they have now.

Extremism, paranoia and conspiracy theories abound, ethnic tensions are always just below the surface and refugees from neighbouring states are victims of violence if not murder.

I don’t really care if Mandela was once pro-Communist or flirted with violence, in that he was the victim of a brutal, hateful regime.

I do care, though, that he is being lauded as the man who saved a country that is about as far from genuine salvation as we can imagine. It’s simply a lie.

Categories: Contributor Columns

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  1. TOM GAGNON says:


  2. joe says:

    mr mandella as an individual was a remarkable person a s a politician he was weak. the truth and reconciliation garbage shoqwed hes weakness to prosecute the murderous judeo euro christian occupiers ,this in itself is a huge cause for the dismal situation in south africa. now that he is dead the corrupt anc shoulg vigorously pursue the apartheid terrorist .devalue their stolen properties engage a national works program focussing solely on the uplifting of the black mayority and increase the taxes of the terrorist euro occupiers . mr coren has zero morality nor credibility to say anything about mandella, he is a well known racist

  3. terrence uniac says:

    coren you are an idiot but we all know that

  4. Evan Fox says:

    I’m reading Mandela’s biography right now. I doubt Coren has read it. Mandela was never pro-communist. He explains, explicitly, that he worked with communists because they, too, were against the racist white government.

    Mandela also explicitly states he had no issue with capitalism.I just read that part about half an hour before seeing Coren’s sad attempt to make himself special, as if it’s up to him and only him to point out the man and his legacy were, and are, far from perfect.

    As for the rest of this article, well … Mandela’s political legacy was not one of a smoothly operating democratic nation. Has anyone in touch with reality ever claimed South Africa all of a sudden became a utopia?

    He did, however, do something that is almost inconceivable – not only did he grasp that it was necessary to reconcile with whites in order to avoid a civil war that would make racial conflict continue for generations, probably more intensely – he was able to put that theory into action.

    South Africa still has tons of violence, and systemic discrimination that will take generations to eradicate. But the laws are no longer discriminatory based upon race. Anyone can work any job; anyone can hold any elected office. Everyone has access, under the law, to the same educational system.

    This would not have happened with a different leader – at least, not without massive bloodshed.

    The steps towards reconciliation have to be initiated by someone – and few people in history have ever been able to take that noble notion and put in into action the way Mandela did.

    He showed what humans are capable of. That his successors have not lived up to his standards isn’t his fault.

  5. Marc Opie says:

    C’mon –

    Britain is submerged in political correctness these days???? Really???? I don’t even know how to respond to that bit of nonsense.

    Why not compare Pre Apartheid S. Africa to Post Apartheid S. Africa.

    Nelson Mandela turned over a racist, murderous white police state. Nelson Mandela, in the space of the short time he was in power managed to turn around a racist, murderous white police state. Perhaps this is Coren’s (and Lilley’s issue), to used Rob Ford’s technique, you gotta wonder about Coren and Lilley.

  6. Bill Glover says:

    Nelson Mandela had a vision for his people of freeing them from Apartheid. With grace, dignity and great personal suffering, he made that vision a reality. Mandela should not be judged on what his people do with that new found freedom, but only for the gift of freedom itself.

  7. Colm Conneely says:

    I think the Mandela story (and the South African story) is still a work in progress. Maybe in another 20 years or so we will have a better perspective on what Mandela really achieved. Dismantling a racist regime in a way that was inclusive to all races and doing this without a bloody civil war is a huge achievement. They have huge problems in raising the Black population out of poverty (improving education in these poor areas, developing this vast potential, etc) but they put on a successful World Cup with little or no violence. According to the CIA World Factbook, SA is second to Libya in GDP per capita. According to the world corruption report released in early December (in which Canada did good), South Africa has the second least level of corruption in Africa (after Botswana, it’s neighbour to the north – Botswana is doing good btw). It ranks equal or higher than Italy, Spain, Greece, and a bunch of Eastern Euro countries, in terms of corruption. Their challenge is to maintain A sense of Mandela’s spirit and ability to treat everyone with dignity and respect. I think SA is doing the 2 steps forward, 1 step back thing, right now. I think though that Mandela stayed around long enough to give SA a fighting chance of succeeding in the not to distant future. Then we can judge Mandela.

  8. Dan Dowdall says:

    This is the thing. Man who walked on water, no, Mandela isn’t. Championing him as such is a disservice to the struggle of a free South Africa, and. a situation of historical misinformation. Canonization of mythical proportions actually minimizes Mandela’s considerable but more humble, meagre accomplishments.

  9. John Van Egmond says:

    Dear Michael

    Nelson Mandela may have not been perfect. But if we can learn from the entire legacy of his life, that discussion based reconciliation of harmonious relationships is a worthwhile endeavour, if he still stood for that reconciliation at death, then we have set the bar high enough for us to admire him. His early and later missteps, a failure of some or all of his policies, is not the question. It will be that if South Africa lives free for 1000 years, then the moment of his first empowerment of reconciliation will be its finest moment and his. I admire the man, a man with imperfections to be sure, who with de Klerk did what the powerful could not do, which was to walk us all a step further along the long and winding path to freedom.

  10. Dave h says:

    I`m ‘ saddened ‘ by your take on this man who of course has become an icon of sainthood . After all he was black and was persecuted by whitey . That in itself should insulate him from all criticism . Obama was a trailblazer , in that regard.

  11. Don Morris says:

    South Africa is the same as almost every other Country that has removed a repressive government through revolution, with racism as an added spice to the mix.

    Revolutionaries usually don’t make good governors,having little if any idea of economics,trade, international relations,or simply how to create an atmosphere conducive to prosperity.

    The U.S.A. is the exception to all the preceding,and what an exception it was,and maybe still is.

    Mandela was possessed of the virtues Mr.Coren states,and all the failures as well, but as one man he had little more than moral authority,unlike every other revolutionary leader throughout history, who usually backed authority with a brutal security force.

    South Africa will continue to decline into chaos,and with their embrace of China,the only way the Country will attain a semblance of stability and order will be through the repressive system championed by China. Tian anmen square times one hundred.

    White South Africans would be well advised to immigrate as soon as possible,as it’s not going to get any better for them, most likely far worse.

    Canada should take the best of them, as a counterbalance to many of the politically correct bunch we’ve allowed in the past three decades.They won’t be any worse.

  12. Brian says:

    Typical Sun – find the negativity. Why cannot the Sun try for a change emphasize what has been accomplished rather than improvements that still need to be made?

  13. Alain says:

    I guess I should not be surprised by the knee-jerk reaction by so many who have been indoctrinated with neo-communist propaganda concerning Mandela. Doing a bit of actual research concerning South Africa at the time would have allowed them to learn instead of emotional outburst against the messenger. Mandela was indeed a communist and also a terrorist, and promoting and conducting terrorism does not a revolution make. South Africa was far from being a totalitarian police state as alleged, and the apartheid policy was already beginning to deteriorate without him or the sanctions. It is interesting to see so many losing it over apartheid when we have pretty much the same thing with the Indian Act in Canada, but then it is much easier to point fingers at a foreign country far away and about which the majority know absolutely nothing other than what they are fed by the MSM.

    Mandela was never the saint so many now try to make of him, nor would I call him the devil incarnated, and I found that was the point Mr. Coren was making.

  14. C Preston says:

    When did the remarkable personal achievement of forgiving ones enemies, and having a dream of a different future for ones people become a lie, Mr. Coren? Mr. Mandela did something we expats didn’t do. He stayed and did the best he could with the talents he had to begin the steps to a better future for his people in his country. He defined his people as not just his own tribe, but the colonist/invaders/foreign business interest from all corners of the world who make South Africa a nation.
    South Africa has a dream which Nelson Mandela gave them with his forgiveness, to overcome apartheid not just in law but in deed. America’s still working on theirs and its been 40 years.
    Surely as a Englishman, with a grasp of your own history you know, England didn’t become an empire overnight, nor did it reject the ownership of slaves and slavery in one vote, or one generation. Nor did the slaves of it’s empire become freemen/women in deed, until they embraced that freedom in the mind and emotions, over more than one generation. Indeed Britain/England itself has only grasped the initiative of freedom, unconfined by class, since Maggie Thatcher was prime minister. Britain too was once ripe with murder, rape, theft, disease, and corruption or the violence of racial/religious oppression, nor is it yet free of those things. Accept Nelson Mandela was a better person than either of us. He forgave unconditionally after twenty three years of hell. Mandela did what Christ asked us to do: Love one another as He loved us. The Brits just have the veneer of civilization underneath still lurks a violence as brutal as that which dwells in the heart of every Man/woman when their homes, livelyhood, Family/Tribe, Land is threatened. Yes Mandela was a saint. not perfect. just a saint for his people and all those who seek to forgive as fully as he did.

  15. muaath says:

    What nonsense. You quote statistics thst were skewed to begin with. Pre 94, there are no emplyment stats that incuded blacks. The ANC inherited a massive debt run up by the apartheid govt, since settled by ANC govts. Crime stats were not kept for blackareas either, so it was tobe expected that the results would be higher . There is More wealth held by whites then there was pre 94 . Today the county is better. off than it was ‘ is A perfect , no it isn’t . But it is certainly better than it was.

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