Madiba’s exemplary walk to freedom

SOUTH Africa is still struggling with the change brought to it by Nelson Mandela.

But as important as it was to remove an Apartheid regime that ruthlessly and murderously guarded racist policies, it was the way Mr Mandela led the change.

He struggled to fight the policies peacefully, eventually coming to the conclusion that they were so corrupt, vile and without humanity that its violence had to be met with violence.

He was arrested, condemned and imprisoned.

He faced a death sentence, looked his judges in the eye and said: "I have fought against white domination. I have fought against black domination ... Democracy is an ideal for which I am prepared to die ..."

He was sent to prison for life, hidden away on an island kilometres off Cape Town.

His words were banned in South Africa, so were pictures of him. He spent 27 years in prison on Robben Island. But South Africa, and the world, did not forget him.

Mr Mandela became the quiet centre of a worldwide storm. The political tide in South Africa changed, but Mr Mandela would accept nothing less than complete democratic change.

He had reason to be bitter. He was not. He had reason to be angry. He was calm.

Mr Mandela led by example. He died as a wished, with his family at home.

It has been a long walk to freedom.