Nelson Mandelawas truly a great man. He had that rare combination of moral courage and political pragmatism, one reason why he was often compared with Mahatma Gandhi.
Magnanimity is a personal virtue that Mandela refashioned into a political tool to ensure that South Africa did not descend into civil war after the end of the hated apartheid system of white dominance over the black majority. So was his wise decision to step down from power after one term in office.
Mandela could well have gone down the path to personal despotism as so many other African leaders did. He built a vibrant democracy instead. In that sense, he was closer to brave men such as
Václav Havelwho led the velvet revolution against communism in Europe than the likes of
Robert Mugabein neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Indian political leaders these days display either timidity or bluster; they are either weak or arrogant. The calm confidence with which Mandela led his nation through its most turbulent period should be a lesson to them.