Nelson Mandela will be celebrated principally for the dignity with which he emerged onto the world stage after decades in prison and for the forgiveness that he displayed towards his former enemies in forging a democratic, multi-racial South Africa from the poisoned legacy of apartheid.As a global statesman of grace and humility, he was long courted by western leaders drawn by his irresistible story of triumph over tyranny. Yet Mandela, who died on December 5 at age 95, was also a more radical and politically complex figure than has been commonly acknowledged by his admirers in the west.
Peter Hain can still recall vividly the morning in 1972 when South African secret agents intended to kill him with a letter bomb sent to his home in London.“Suddenly, in the middle of the family breakfast table was this terrifying, grotesque mixture of terminals and wires,” Hain told Al Jazeera. “We just sat there transfixed, and nothing happened. The police said we had been very lucky because there was a problem with the trigger mechanism.”