Mandela – 4 Corrections for a Teachable Moment

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Here are four vital corrections which must be clearly understood – especially if one wants to emulate Mandela and help build movements like the one he led:

1. No one person, or even a single organization, can create a movement (or change history) alone.

2. The African National Congress was always committed to united work between Africans, Indians, “Coloreds” and whites.

3. Violent tactics which were part of the armed struggle were exaggerated and unduly emphasized.

4. The role of “black-on-black violence” portrayed at the end of the film is exaggerated out of all context and factual accounting.

Does the leader truly make the movement or does the movement make, shape and allow for great leaders to emerge? If, as most historians suspect, a little bit of both is involved in every great moment of social change, perhaps we are ready for mass media that reflects these realities instead of the over-simplifications which disable us.

Matt Meyer is a New York-based educator-activist, co-editor of the two volume Africa World Press series Seeds of New Hope. He serves as co-convener of the War Resisters International Africa Working Group and UN NGO representative of the International Peace Research Association.

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