5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher

In memory of two of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. They will never be forgotten. They have both shown how people can change for the better.

These two people, and, more specifically, their relations with one another showed the world that it was a story written just like a fairytale. They showed the world how to do it. These two people hated each other's guts - but by 1990 they were the best of friends.

The script for the clichéd fairytale story could not be made up. The two protagonists start name-calling and fall out after one does something wrong, and they reconcile and persuade the other one's punishment to be shortened.

In the early 1960s, Nelson Mandela, a campaigner against apartheid, renounced non-violence and peaceful protests as well as the ANC. I completely believe that that was wrong and unnecessary. The moral and ethical values of what he was doing in this period of his life are questionable, to say the least. Margaret Thatcher is infamous for calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist when he did this. Furthermore, a few years later, Nelson Mandela attempted to overthrow the government and was sentenced to life imprisonment for it. What he did there was wrong, and it was, at the time, fit for Margaret Thatcher to call Nelson Mandela a terrorist, because, like it or not, that was what he was at the time. However, what happened next is remarkable.

Fast forward about 20 years, and by 1987, Nelson Mandela had become a reformed man. A man who had severed ties with the terrorist groups he was involved in. A man who had changed and was ready to come out of prison. He has shown how prison can work and how people can change. Furthermore, the ANC has now renounced violence.

This is where Margaret Thatcher changes her stance on Mandela, as he is now a reformed man, and the ANC, as they are no longer terrorists. Through an extremely clever plan, she was doing everything to free Nelson Mandela. She was forced to agree to some limited sanctions on South Africa, but her plan was to bring down South Africa from the inside, metaphorically speaking, because she refused to visit there. Indeed, when she visited southern Africa she visited every other country in that part of the world. But by talking to the racist, white leaders, and by making it look like that she was on the white people's side, she was able to influence them to free Nelson Mandela and make South Africa the South Africa it is today.

Margaret Thatcher created enemies within the United Nations for making contact with the apartheid South Africa. It's always been disputed as to whether she was right to do this or not, but it is my view that she was. Nelson Mandela said this when he was released from prison:

"My release from prison was the direct result of the people inside and outside of South Africa [...] in particular from the people of the UK."

27 years didn't just change Nelson Mandela. It changed the whole world.

Two people who have changed the world, and changed themselves. Both died in 2013. I know this is clichéd, but rest in peace.

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