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Mandela, far from Jesus, far from an Angel but in his contrition there is something amazing

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 16 December 2013

The BBC is already starting its annual process of celebrating Christmas without mentioning Jesus, the nativity and all that religious crap too much. It is all so terribly 19th Century. Let’s talk about multicultural issues, get as many Imams as possible to speak of brotherly love, look forward to the Eastenders special and talk about getting pissed. Just do not mention the Jesus word.

But in another context, it was a BBC reporter who first compared the late Nelson Mandela to er….Jesus. In another age that might have been consider blasphemous.

In this age it should just be considered ridiculous. I am in no position to cast judgement on the fact that Mandela was serially unfaithful to two of his wives. Heck, from what I have read I rather admire the stamina of the old goat in his younger days. But it is also clear that Mandela as a younger man was a bully and a wife beater. Not quite following in the footsteps of Jesus.

The great thing about Mandela is that while folks like the BBC have tried to picture him as a modern day Saint, Mandela knew that he was not. He was open about his youthful sinning and in a very Christian way appeared to accept that he was a sinner and that he was genuinely sorry.

The way that he behaved post imprisonment exemplifies the Christian ideal “forgive us our sins and forgive those who have sinned against us” in a way that is beyond comparison. In showing love for those responsible for locking him up for so many years and for imposing the vile apartheid regime on South Africa, Mandela really forced a nation to “forgive those who have sinned against us.”

And part of that forgiveness, was by the whites against folks from the ANC who had murdered their relatives. Perhaps those killings had some justification but forgiveness was needed as well.

So Mandela was no Jesus. He knew that. But his flaws and the way he dealt with then to make him an even more impressive figure among men. If there is a heaven (which for the avoidance of doubt, there almost certainly is not), Mandela will surely have gained entry and will right now be laughing with Jesus at the BBC’s fawning coverage of his demise.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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