6.25.13 … Nelson Mandela: “Mandela shook the hand of every player. He had entered the lion’s den” …

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Springbok rugby team, 1995 Rugby World Cup, game changer:  When I visited SA in 2010, I was amazed at how universally loved and respected Mandala was within SA.  One even commented , “if only he had been younger when he came to power … ”  Obviously there is some irony there.  I have been wondering how to comment on his current illness.  Christiane Amanpour captures the feeling beautifully in this piece.

Eighteen years ago Monday, on June 24, 1995, South Africa’s Springbok rugby team staged a stunning upset to win the Rugby World Cup against the heavily favored New Zealand.But the game was much more than just one day’s win. This was the day Nelson Mandela cemented himself as leader of all South Africans.Elected the year before, democracy was still fragile and the racial divide was still raw. Rugby was an all-white game and Springbok captain Francois Pienaar was its hero. But Mandela enlisted Pienaar’s helps to use this final to unite, instead of divide.Several minutes before the big match began, the great man walked out onto the field wearing the team’s distinctive green and yellow jersey and Pienaar’s number six on his back. Mandela shook the hand of every player.He had entered the lion’s den. The mostly white crowd seemed stunned to see him there of all places. Then a massive chant rumbled through the stadium. “Nelson,” the crowd shouted as their brand new president grinned and waved his rugby cap.And in that brief, shining moment their new, democratically elected president won the allegiance and the hearts of blacks and whites.Later, Pienaar would say that it was Mandela who had won the match for them.

via The game that changed South Africa – Amanpour – CNN.com Blogs.

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