His death can hardly be called “unexpected,” given the many health problems he faced over the past year, but a a large void is perceived nonetheless both in South Africa, and throughout the world, as a consequence of his passing. I did not like the fact that under his leadership, the African National Congress made common cause with the likes of Qaddafi and Castro, even though I understood the reasons for that alliance. However much the ANC wanted and needed allies, Mandela could have made stronger statements against the abhorrent acts and policies of Qaddafi’s Libya and Castro’s Cuba–acts that matched the evils of apartheid. Nevertheless, I cannot help but appreciate all that he did to bring South Africans together, and to bring about reconciliation in the country. A post-apartheid South Africa could have slipped into a cycle of anarchy and revenge. With wily tactics, an admirable sense of morals, and by sheer force of will, Mandela kept that from happening. By being the Cincinnatus of his country, Mandela made himself into an icon for people of all countries. And all of them–all of us–are right to miss him.
Requiescat in pace.