Around the World

South Africa Grapples With Nelson Mandela’s Legacy

Although he was imprisoned for nearly three decades, including 18 years on desolate Robben Island, it was not retribution and revenge that Nelson Mandela sought when he became president of the newly democratic South Africa in 1994, but reconciliation.

And now, nearly 20 years after the end of a brutal and racist apartheid regime, Mandela’s legacy as an icon of freedom and democracy is being tested, as the leaders and citizens of his native country decide how to carry forward his ideals amid a host of problems.

“Forget about what happened pre-1994, the issue is what happens now,” said Xolani Gwala, a radio host and journalist at the South African Broadcasting Corp., in an interview with ABC News correspondent Rob Nelson in Johannesburg.

“Mandela will remain a towering figure and an amazing influence across South Africa,” said Gwala. “Mandela and others were about reconciliation and nation-building. The legacy is still there, but how do you make sure it continues into the future to maintain that kind of reconciliation and unity in the country?”

Whereas the main objective of the Mandela years was the end of apartheid, the new South Africa must contend with several other pressing issues. Gwala said South Africa is trying to interpret Mandela’s legacy in the face of an unemployment rate nearing 40 percent, poor public education, and high rates of poverty and HIV and AIDS. According to Gwala, the country’s citizens are demanding answers to those problems.

“Twenty years ago you said we’d have houses,” said Gwala. “Twenty years ago you said education would improve. Twenty years ago you said we would have job opportunities. If you have people who are completely poor, if you have people who are desperate, then you’re going to have a high rate of HIV, then you’re going to have crime. It’s a vicious circle.”

Gwala believed that job creation should be the first priority.

“If you can get people working, they can at least fend for themselves,” he said. “If you can get this economy growing and start there, then people will have some hope.”

But it is not only social and economic problems that have South Africans questioning the ruling African National Congress. A video released in late April showed South African President Jacob Zuma and other ANC leaders smiling as they surrounded an ashen-faced Mandela, who is now 94, at his home. South Africans were surprised at how frail Mandela looked and expressed anger over the ANC’s seeming attempts to use him as a political prop.

As the political stagecraft and struggles continue, there are signs of progress.

“It takes other nations more than one generation for people to move from one class to another,” said Gwala. “In a short amount of space, people have moved from poverty to middle-class. This country continues to record miracles. The problem is that the numbers are not good enough.”

Ultimately, it will be Mandela’s legacy of democracy on which the country’s future will depend.

“Putting democracy into action is just as hard as fighting for it,” said Gwala. “Prior to 1994, Mandela spoke about this: ‘Are we ready to govern?’”

Gwala continued: “Are we ready to govern now? I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine.”

  • Surgeons remove 232 teeth from Indian teenager
    Surgeons remove 232 teeth from Indian teenager

    Ashik Gavai, 17, sought medical help for a swelling on the right side of his lower jaw and the case was referred to the city's JJ Hospital, where they found he was suffering from a condition known as complex odontoma, head of dentistry Sunanda Dhivare-Palwankar told AFP. The youngster's father, Suresh Gavai, said that the family had been worried that Ashik's swelling was a cancerous growth. "I was worried that it may turn out to be cancer so I brought him to Mumbai," Gavai told the Mumbai Mirror newspaper. "I think it could be a world record," she said.

  • What really happened to MH17? Russia's media have the answer

    In the days since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, Russian state-owned media outlets have produced alternative explanations for what happened. While the Western world blames Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine, Russian media, including private outlets, have explored other possibilities – from the totally outrageous to the outwardly plausible. In all their scenarios, the Ukrainian government is responsible. This claim was easily debunked: Family members confirmed dropping off passengers before the flight, and social media postings had a matching timeline. 

  • Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy: U.S. study

    Dogs are capable of feeling a basic form of jealousy, according to a study published in the PLOS ONE scientific journal. The research, said to be the first experiment on canine jealousy, could redefine the view that the complex emotion of envy is a human construct, said Christine Harris, University of California, San Diego psychologist and an author of the study.

  • U.N. chief alarmed as rockets found in Gaza school go missing
    U.N. chief alarmed as rockets found in Gaza school go missing

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm on Wednesday that 20 rockets found hidden in a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip had gone missing and directed the world body to deploy experts to deal with the situation. The main U.N. agency in Gaza, UNRWA, found the rockets in one of its vacant schools a week ago. It found a second batch in a vacant school on Tuesday, but said in a statement that because staff were withdrawn quickly, they were "unable to confirm the precise number." In both cases UNRWA said it "informed the relevant parties," but did not identify who had been contacted. Ban "expresses his outrage and regret at the placing of weapons in a U.N.-administered school," a United Nations statement said.

  • Commonwealth Games open in colourful, moving ceremony
    Commonwealth Games open in colourful, moving ceremony

    Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the 20th Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on Wednesday after a moving and colourful ceremony in front of a 40,000 capacity crowd. The Games will feature 17 sports across 11 days of competition with more than 4,500 athletes from 71 nations competing, making the event the biggest Scotland has ever hosted. The Queen called on those present to "unite" in difficult times as a minute's silence was held for the victims of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight disaster. Eighty-two of the 298 people who died last week when the plane came down over eastern Ukraine were from Commonwealth nations.

  • Hamas tactics exact high toll in Israeli ground thrust
    Hamas tactics exact high toll in Israeli ground thrust

    By Noah Browning GAZA (Reuters) - Using tunnels, mines, booby traps and snipers, Hamas fighters have inflicted record casualties on Israeli troops waging an offensive in the Gaza Strip, applying years of training in urban warfare with a new tactical acumen and suicidal resolve. The Israelis say weapons and know-how supplied by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah make Hamas a more formidable foe. Four days after Israel launched a withering ground assault on the Palestinian Islamist militants in their stronghold of Shejaia following intensive air strikes, the army still does not have complete control of the area. Exploiting a vast network of secret tunnels to snipe at enemy troops and blast their vehicles even inside Israel, Hamas has killed 32 Israeli soldiers -- almost three times as many as in the last major ground clashes in a 2008-9 conflict.

  • Mo Farah pulls out of Commonwealth Games
    Mo Farah pulls out of Commonwealth Games

    The Commonwealth Games were dealt a huge blow Thursday when England's double Olympic and world champion Mo Farah announced he was withdrawing due to fitness concerns. Farah, alongside Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt, is one of the most recognisable faces of track and field, and his absence will be sorely missed. "There's no question that we're disappointed," admitted David Grevemberg, the chief executive of Glasgow 2014. Farah, the 5,000 and 10,000 metres Olympic and world champion, was recently laid low by illness and has decided to pull out of the Commonwealths to work on his fitness ahead of next month's European Championships in Zurich.


    DEAR ABBY: Is it acceptable to bring a teacup-sized dog to a wedding? The excuse was, "Well, the wedding was at the beach." The pre-dinner and dancing were inside a high-end resort on the beach. The dog was taken inside these establishments. After a guest -- a family member of the dog's owner -- asked the owner to remove the animal because the occasion was not about her and her dog but the bride and groom's day, the owner put the dog in a carrying case and the dog returned to the wedding for the rest of the night. ...