JOHANNESBURG – While Nelson Mandela is celebrated at the United Nations, two prominent South African lawyers say his greatness lay partly in his ordinary qualities and recognition of his own mistakes.
Former judge Albie Sachs recalls how Mandela, as president after apartheid’s 1994 end, pushed in vain for the new constitution to allow South Africans aged 15-17 to vote. Sachs says Mandela referred to himself as proof that “a president can be wrong” when, years later, he lobbied his successor to drop AIDS “denialism” and furnish medication to the sick.
Lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said Tuesday that Mandela was “normal” in many ways and his example shows “how much power lies in each and every one of us.”
A statue of the anti-apartheid leader was unveiled at the U.N. General Assembly this week.