Mandela, a Saint or a Man?




He spent more 27 years imprisoned. He is known for many things such as liberating South Africa, being the leader of the movement that ended Apartheid, and leading the Reconciliation process. He is also known as an young activist, as a political and insightful thinker and as the former President of South Africa. It is no wonder that Mr Nelson Mandela is thought to be a Saint.

His new book called, Conversations with Myself, invites the reader into a more intimate dialogue revealing personal life details. The book will be released by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. It will be published in 22 editions and 20 languages.

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“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Is a leader, an icon, and a source of inspiration, entitled to be a man as well? Can historical figures have a private life? Is there still much to learn from Mandela in these times? Why do we expect world leaders to be Saints?

Panning the world of today, throughout the continents we find traces of countries immerse in conflict. South Africa found it way out through the Reconciliation Process. Today Reconciliation is recognized as a successful model of National unity.

Nelson Mandela said, “As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself... Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.”

Mr Mandela from the distance, or crossing over time, brings again a bright light. It comes with a message. Still today Mandela words bring peace and resolution to complex matters with understanding and simplicity. A man who lives by ideals can be confused as a Saint. Mandela makes that clear in his new book. In it he wrote, "I am no Saint".

His book is said to be private and revealing. But is humanization of figures not needed? In the words of Mandela himself, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” The man or the saint, continues writing history.