WASHINGTON – Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African leader who died Thursday at age 95, was remembered on WTOP Friday as a man from whom anyone in or out of politics could learn.
A succession of commentators on Friday morning told WTOP’s Bruce Alan and Mike Moss that Mandela would be remembered for his perseverance in the face of nearly 30 years of imprisonment for fighting the racial segregation of apartheid, but for refusing to succumb to bitterness when he was released in 1990.
Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent and host of State of the Union, says of Mandela’s life: “It’s an amazing life of a leader, but it’s also an amazing life of a human being.”
She adds that his life was so long and accomplished that “you kind of forget over time, and when you go back and look, it’s astonishing.”
At its end, “The celebration of that life immediately came to the fore. There’s sadness, but there’s also just ‘oh, wow.'”
Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of Face the Nation, said of Mandela, “his whole life was a lesson. It would be like you were taking a college course on ethics.
“He stood for perseverance, for bravery. He had a set of values. And then once his goal was achieved, he practiced forgiveness of his enemies, and reconciliation.”
David Gregory, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, agreed that Mandela changed South Africa “through his own incredible force of will,” but added that the real example of Mandela’s life was “don’t allow yourself to be consumed with hate. And if you can be that model, you can triumph over people’s fears and people’s hatred.”
Crowley says Mandela “saved the country,” as he could have easily incited a civil war. But she says the mindset of forgiveness began when Mandela was still in prison.
“He could have rotted there for 25 years, but he used the time,” she said.
It would be wrong to assume Mandela had no bitter feelings, but “he took them and moved them into something positive to change the situation.”
President Barack Obama said on Thursday that “I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example Nelson Mandela set.”
All three commentators said that Mandela set an example for politicians in all countries to follow.
Gregory said of Obama, “Here was someone who was too young to be directly part of the civil-rights era, and yet the apartheid era was something that he was able to participate in and