Mandela proves the power of forgiveness

Nelson Mandela, accompanied by his wife Winnie, walks out of the Victor Verster prison, near Cape Town, after spending 27 years in apartheid jails on February 11, 1990. (Reuters/Ulli Michel)


Across the globe, Nelson Mandela's leadership will be remembered for his capacity for forgiveness. After 27 years in prison, he emerged without bitterness or a need for revenge. And his attitude towards forgiveness set the tone for the county South Africa has become.

"He served just one term, and felt that he should vacate office and let someone else come. He felt he needed to authenticate another leader. What a lesson for us as Africans, on the African continent."

Bishop Mosa Sono

Nelson Mandela could easily have declared himself president for life, but as Bishop Mosa Sono pointed out this weekend in Soweto. Mr. Mandela chose to set a different precedent for South Africa. In church services across the globe he was remembered for his leadership, and for his unusual capacity for forgiveness.

After 27-years in prison, Nelson Mandela emerged without apparent bitterness or lust for revenge. It was his very public and very personal attitude of forgiveness that set helped the tone for the country South Africa has become.

Bruce Clark writes about religion for The Economist magazine. He spoke to us from his home in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

This segment was produced by The Current's Peter Mitton.

  • Music played in our broadcast was Calm Down -

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