Today, 02/11/06, is the 16th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison

16 years ago today, February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa after 27 years. In 1993 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here is part of what he said upon his release:

'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 is a saint among us.

Link: Nelson Mandela's Address to Rally in Cape Town on his Release from Prison, 11 February 1990.

In My Country, the film

In My Country, also known as Country Of My Skull, is a British film distributed in 2004 about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings held in South Africa after the downfall of apartheid. It stars Samuel L. Jackson as Langston Whitfield a reporter for the Washington Post, and Juliette Binoche as Anna Malan, a South African journalist and radio reporter.

The film is disappointing because it focuses on a romance between Whitfield and Malan more than the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings which is the real story of import.

I don't recommend this film unless you are totally ignorant of the post apartheid situtation in South Africa in which case you might learn a little something.

Link: Country of My Skull (2004).

South Africa's truth and reconciliation commission

mandela-armsraised-300After horrible injustice and abuse has been perpetrated, is there any strategy for justice other than vengeance and retribution? Should the killers be killed? This is the myth of what Walter Wink calls "the myth of redemptive violence."

Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye makes us both blind."

What would be an alternative belief system? Ubuntu is an African term which basically means "I am who I am through you, and you are who you are through me." There is an awareness that our humanity and destinies as human beings are inextricably linked. It probably is similar to what Christians mean when they say that we are all part of the Body of Christ. Post modern thinkers are very aware that truth is contextually described and defined, and language, a social invention, makes our consciousness possible.

With the end of Apartheid, many people predicted a blood bath as the black majority took out vengaence and retribution for the brutal oppression and injustice they suffered under white rule. However, this didn't happen. Instead South African went a different way and used the strategy of a truth and reconciliation commission which now is becoming a model for the world.

Speaking Of Faith, a weekly NPR radio show hosted by Krista Tippett, did a show on August 26, 2004 on the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission process. I highly recommend it to you. You can access the Speaking of Faith web site by clicking on the link below. You can listen to the show free of charge and read the supplementary materials.

Speaking of Faith - public radio's national conversation about belief, meaning, ethics, and ideas