Nelson Mandela: The towering political Leader of the late 20th century.

President Mandela presenting the 1995 World Rugby Cup to South African captain Francois Pienaar

President Mandela presenting the 1995 World Rugby Cup to South African captain Francois Pienaar

 

In my view, Nelson Mandela was the towering political figure of the late 20th century. For someone of my generation, he was a truly inspiring figure. The Telegraph have today done a wonderful picture gallery to celebrate his life, which can be seen here.

These photo show him as a young man, a lawyer, a freedom fighter, a husband and father. They show his release from prison after 27 years, his swearing-in as President and his whole political career.

The image I remember most vividly was the one above, with him presented the 1995 Rugby World Cup to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar.

For those of us growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Springbok were a symbol of the old, apartheid, South Africa. The team was white. Their supporters were white.

Nelson Mandela’s strong support for the Springbok helped unite a country   He convinced his party to support the Springboks. The day before the final they visited his cell at Robbin Island. The gesture of him wearing the Springbok’s jersey was widely seen as a major step towards the reconciliation of white and black South Africans.

His enthusiasm  for the Springboks is portrayed in the 2009 film Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.

Nelson Mandela was a great man. The world is a poorer place today.

 

 

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