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Published:December 6th, 2013 10:15 EST
Bill Keller`s New York Times Obituary On Nelson Mandela Is A Good Starting Place!

Bill Keller`s New York Times Obituary On Nelson Mandela Is A Good Starting Place!

By John G. Kays

"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." Nelson Mandela - Opening of Trial on Charges of Sabotage - Pretoria, South Africa - April 20, 1964

Although I`m doing a great deal of reading this morning on the life of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), my knowledge of the inspirational leader of South Africa, who successfully spearheaded a movement to end apartheid (apartness) in that third world country, is limited, coming mostly as an impression of his myth, his legacy. 

Since I was a history major in college, and since this is where I`ve concentrated a good amount of my study time, I know better than to just worship somebody as a hero. It`s better to take a closer look at the events of their lives, the circumstances that made them who they became in life, defined by the struggle they had to endure in order to achieve what they ultimately were able to achieve.

This is the reason why I will recommend that you read Bill Keller`s obituary on Nelson Mandela, published in The New York Times this morning. Bill Keller`s credentials and background, that make him such an exemplary veteran journalist, are linked on The NY Times page, but I printed them out to see to see for myself what he was about, since I was so impressed with his in depth summary of Nelson Mandela`s lifetime struggle,  making South Africa an apartheid-free, democratic nation. It turns out, Bill Keller has written a book on Mandela, The Tree Shaker: The Story of Nelson Mandela, which was published in January of 2008 on Kingfisher.

Well, perhaps I can find it at the library to read (I can`t afford to purchase anymore new books right now); further confidence in Bill Keller, as an authority on Mandela, is gained by knowing he was the `chief of The Times bureau in Johannesburg from April 1992 until May 1995, when he covered the end of white rule in South Africa (The NY Times).`  

One item I found, that rings true, when watching a summary bio-video of Mandela`s life, where Bill Keller`s comments on some of the important events featured on Mandela`s timeline, is that Mandela`s greatest accomplishments occurred when he was still in prison, on Robben Island.

Nelson actually uses the prison for meditation and study, crystalizing his political ideas, that will ultimately lead him in crushing the racial oppression that had plagued his country for so many sorry years. My guess is, if I can get my hands on Keller`s book, I`ll probably concentrate more of my time on Nelson`s stretch in prison, where for some unexpected reason, he was able to harness his political power or his image, that translated around the world as a martyr for a most worthy cause. 

If we were often reminded (perhaps subconsciously) of Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi, throughout the 1980s, I wouldn`t exactly term this as an accident or as a coincidence. I suspect that the roadmap of Mandela`s Image was carefully thought-out and pre-planned, with these very goals in mind. 

Ultimately, he was able to achieve these goals, ending apartheid and becoming, as a native Black African, the President of his own country. I will have to verify this, but yes, I do believe this incredible strategy to free himself and his people was cooked up while dawdling on this rotten Robben Island.

Well, let us not forget, MLK`s Letter From Birmingham was written when the young Civil Rights` leader was wrongfully incarcerated. Another aspect I want to take a look at, is the claims that Mandela was a communist. Okay, so J. Edgar had branded MLK a communist also; so much more to look into!