I read this and found it quite profound:
I heard someone say today there were Five Mandibas just like there were three Malcolms. For the latter, Malcolm Little, Malcolm X and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. For the former, Mandiba before Robben Island, Mandiba on Robben Island, Mandiba… after release from Robben Island, Mandiba as President and Mandiba as Former President.
What I’ve seen over the past few days, is an emphasis by the N.E.W.S. on the “Lion in Winter” or Mandiba primarily as kindly, forgiving, dancing, old and compliant. I’ve also seen those who focus on Mandiba after his release from Robben Island refer to him as the “sell-out” Mandiba. Still others prefer the First Mandiba who gave orders to bomb and kill white South Afrikaners in the struggle against Apartheid—Mandiba the Revolutionary.
Mandiba was ALL of these and not one of them. Anyone who lives to be 95 changes ideology, perspectives and politics. W.E.B. Du Bois once referred to Marcus Garvey as a “a little, fat, black man, ugly…with a big head.”, but praised him in later life as a great Pan Afrikanist. Mandiba himself, said he was not a perfect man, none of Us are, and in describing himself as imperfect, he has done what many of Us are unwilling to do—engage in healthy self-critique rather than persist in exaggerated notions of who We are.
At this time I choose to embrace all Five of the Mandibas, revolutionary, imprisoned, released, President and the Lion in Winter. He was all of these and I hope Our view of him is comprehensive rather than picking one of them and thus creating a narrow view of the total person.
Just my $.02…