Nelson Mandela, the most revered man of South Africa and perhaps of today's world, is now at rest on the land for which he had fought. Around 100 foreign dignitaries attended a memorial ceremony held on December 10, including Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.
Mandela is hailed one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century. Many have been inspired by his great efforts to fight against racial discrimination and his personal qualities of tolerance and reconciliation in building a democratic country. People also respect him for his courageous spirit and his graceful manner in stepping down as president after just one term in order to make way for others.
A new South Africa was built in 1994 just as the anti-apartheid fighter had envisioned for the country—with a Western-style democracy and the rule of law.
However, a country should not only be judged by the ideals of its leaders, but also by the strength of its economy and the quality of life afforded to its people. In spite of the many great stories being told about this one significant leader, South Africa is now suffering from the slowest economic growth of the whole Sub-Saharan region, confronting towering unemployment, and plagued by one of the highest rates of violent crimes and AIDS prevalence in the world. As long as many of the country's houses remain armed with electric fences and high walls, South Africa's struggle against apartheid and inequality will continue.
Mandela left a legacy of democracy for his fellow countrymen, but how to carry on his mission and turn it into real economic productivity remains a daunting task for his successors.