Monday, 7 June 2010

No, I don't know De Klerk.

Today, on my way to the embassy to pick up my new passport, I was stopped by an oldish man who wanted to talk. Not to much of a problem, in fact, he seemed one of those people who are genuinely interested in other countries and how they work. He a’so had right decent English to boot.

He started the conversation off with “Where in the states do you hail from.” Tee-hee. Hail from! I told him I was South African and almost immediately he mentioned Mandela, how he was a great man and how he won the Nobel Prize.

Mandela deserves respect. The way he behaved as president is enough for me to give him my respect and people who have met him says he is an amazing man. Still, unless you are a South African, don’t ever come to me and tell me how great Mandela is and then be completely oblivious that someone named F.W. de Klerk exists.

What takes more courage, to do what is right and fight for something you don’t have, or to do what is right and give up what you have knowing you will face the scorn of your people? Sure, to a certain extent those decisions were forced on him, but he still had the power to resist and let things linger a bit longer. (Do take note though, the country was rapidly changing long before the new government took over.)

Even considering this, Mandela did not sign his own release papers, the ANC did not unban themselves and South Africa did not go from a perceived completely racist white ruled country to a completely free black ruled country on one election. Thing happened before that that was not just dependent on non-white people in South Africa.

Lastly, in fairness to everyone, Mandela was also not the only one imprisoned for his believes AND ACTIONS. There were others there with him, because despite what people believe, one man rarely changes the world alone.

So, please do me a favour and google “F.W de Klerk” and see who the man was who shared the stage with Mandela in receiving the Nobel Prize.