Mandela had every reason to be angry and vengeful, but he instead chose the path of forgiveness and reconciliation.
After 27years in Prison he should have been bitter with his jailers and sought their banishment and yet he chose to embrace them in the interest of promoting an inclusive society.
He had every right to join with the extremist left to drive the whites into the sea, expropriate business and let the indigenous take over, but he chose instead to sustain the economy to benefit the greater good of the country.
Instead of demonizing the white race and the Afrikaners in particular for the evil apartheid policy that sent him to prison, Mandela chose to build a rainbow nation that embraced all citizens across their racial, political and ethic affiliation.
Instead of surrounding himself with cronies and sycophants he sought out the talented, gifted and wise to help build the rainbow nation.
Instead of wallowing in glory and self satisfaction he embarked upon the more arduous task of weaving a nation out of the 11 “Bantustan states” and the even more intractable racial divide that also pitted the blacks, whites, coloreds and Indians.
In the end it was from this very volatile mix that Madiba triumphed to transcend South Africa and reach out to the rest of Africa and the world at large.
He was a man who inherited the obnoxious apartheid system and hoped to build from it a democratic society of equals, a society in which the blacks, whites and mixed race could find a place without feeling out place, without feeling victimized or indeed patronized.
Among the very first things Madiba did when he assumed office was to reinforce and emphasize the independence and importance of the Judiciary, the very institution that had imprisoned him.
He epitomized this belief in 1998 when he submitted himself to the courts when summoned to defend his decision to set up a commission to investigate alleged racism, corruption and nepotism in South African rugby. As President he would have kept away but he did not.
This marked his commitment to the creation of a country that respected the law, a country characterized by justice, dignity and human rights for all.
It was from this firm belief in the rule of law that he proceeded to reform and transform one of Africa’s most formidable defence forces into a machinery of peace and relief.
It is still a miracle that a country that almost tittered on the brink of chaos and disaster is the bedrock of democracy and continues to thrive in spite of many challenges confronted.