Writing today, Elleke Boehmer states “that it is for his humanity and what I would like to call his historic warmth that Nelson Mandela will be remembered”

Elleke Boehmer

Elleke Boehmer

In “Mandela, Icon”, Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Writing in English in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford, and a Consulting Editor for Interlitq, writes:

“Who stands behind the icon Nelson Mandela? What is it that we see when we look into its smiling eyes? Above all, taking into account his interesting, very human complexities, it is for his humanity and what I would like to call his historic warmth that Nelson Mandela will be remembered. He forged reciprocity where none had hoped to find it when he observed that friend and foe by and large shared the same aims, fears and desires. He took the hand of his gaoler and the hand of his comrade and joined them together by pointing out that at the end of the day it was the same piece of earth that they were fighting for. He approached others not as members of a certain race or group but as human beings. Where previously there had been division and hate, he forged interaction. He deserves to be remembered therefore not simply as an icon, but as a towering figure of ordinary humanness and immense courage. He is, as the poet Jeremy Cronin puts it, an undoubted symbol of freedom but one with hands that were ‘pudgy’ and humanly reassuring. His spirit will live on because of the extraordinary human being he was and the superhuman sacrifices he made.”

Nelson Mandela. (AP Photo/Pool-Theana Calitz-Bilt)

Nelson Mandela. (AP Photo/Pool-Theana Calitz-Bilt)

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