What Ukraine Can Learn from Mandela

By tamara on
image of Nelson-Mandela

Throughout its modern history, Ukraine, like South Africa has struggled with oppression. And while South Africans were victims of racial tyranny, Ukraine’s oppressor was a politically motivated dictatorship.

Despite their distinct differences, oppression held each country so tightly in its grips that nearly all the vitality was squeezed out of them.  But South Africa managed to overcome its struggles and thrive as a country. And it did so because it had a gift – and that gift was Nelson Mandela.

Mandela doesn’t solely belong to Africa. He belongs to the world and world can learn a great deal from him and his actions.

As an anti-apartheid revolutionary, Mandela was instrumental to South Africa’s unification.  He strived for equality and a democratic society and the political injustice of his imprisonment drew world attention. This became critical to his cause.

And now the entire world is watching Ukraine.  But Ukraine’s dilemma doesn’t sit within its own jurisdiction. Mandela once said that only free men can negotiate and President Yanukovich is not a free man – he belongs to Russia.  So the President of Ukraine had sold his soul long before the EU negotiations had even begun.

Both Europe and the US have been putting pressure Yanukovich.  But the devil to fear is the devil next door. Putin has an economic stronghold on Ukraine and will surely inflict intolerable suffering onto its people should Yanukovich join the EU. And despite the pressure from the West, Ukraine doesn’t offer sufficient value for world to put itself at risk and join Ukraine in a fight against Putin.


But the fact remains that the oppression that exists in Ukraine is a human rights issue, albeit disguised by a political one. And although the world may not come to aid Ukraine in the fight against Russia, it is clear by the shear number of protesters gathered in Kiev’s Independence Square, that Ukraine is ready to fight for their cause.

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”                                                                                                                 – Nelson Mandela


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