By Ray Fleming

ALMOST everything that can be said about Nelson Mandela probably has already been said around the world since his death on Thursday night. At his state funeral there will be an unprecedented assembly of world leaders and public figures -- more than for Winston Churchill or John F Kennedy. Still, for countless ordinary people Mandela will be remembered as a person with whom they felt they could connect without ever meeting. What he stood for was crystal clear and exceptional. The man who had spent 27 years as Prisoner 46646 on South Africa’s Robben Island emerged as a profound believer in constructive reconciliation rather than destructive vengeance. He had told the white apartheid court which tried him for treachery in 1963 that he was ready to die for his ideal of democracy and racial equality. He survived but had less than a decade left to try to achieve what was a lifetime’s work.South Africa is not in good economic or political condition at the moment. Will Mandela’s death revive belief in his goals and means of reaching them? Two comments yesterday addressed that question. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, himself once a fighter against apartheid said: "Let us give him the gift of a South Africa, one." The former cricketer A B de Villiers said: "Let us, now more than ever, stick together as a nation. We owe him that much."

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