In the jungle, the mighty junglePresident Barack Obama called Nelson Mandela "the last great liberator of the 20th century" at the memorial service for him in South Africa today. And who among the assembled world leaders was going to stand up and say, "No, no, I am the last great liberator!"
The lion sleeps tonight
South Africa is a nation of great wealth and beauty but many problems. While our President was cheered, they booed their current President. That is the lot of Presidents. It's quite likely many wanted to boo John Adams at George Washington's funeral.
The one problem South Africa no longer has is Apartheid. Mandela spent 27 years in prison for treasonous acts and conspiracy, but what possible claim of allegiance could the racist and manifestly unjust laws of Apartheid South Africa hold. From the speech he gave in court at his sentencing:
"During my lifetime I have dedicated my life 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 will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."Ultimately, Nelson Mandela was the symbol of the moral suasion that prevailed in South Africa. He did one of those profoundly great things. He accepted the surrender of his political foes magnanimously, served one term as President, and then retired.
Near the village, the quiet villageThere is only one fitting musical tribute. Perhaps you'd prefer the Happy Hippo Disney version, The Tokens pop version, or The Weavers folk version, but the final tribute goes to the original South African version by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds:
The lion sleeps tonight.
Linda died in October 1962, the year Nelson Mandela was arrested, 51 years ago.