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Historia

versión On-line ISSN 2309-8392
versión impresa ISSN 0018-229X

Historia vol.54 no.2 Durban  2009

 

Archetypal hero or living saint? The veneration of Nelson Mandela

 

Argetipe held of lewende heilige? Die verering van Nelson Mandela

 

 

Paul Maylam

Paul Maylam is Professor of History at Rhodes University The most recent of his five books is The Cult of Rhodes: Remembering an Imperialist in Africa (2005)

 

 


ABSTRACT

This article attempts to explain, along two lines of inquiry, why Nelson Mandela has come to be so revered and venerated in recent decades. According to the first approach, Mandela can be viewed as an archetypal hero. About sixty years ago, Joseph Campbell outlined the typical course of journeys undertaken by mythical heroes such as Odysseus and Aeneas. This course followed a regular pattern of separation, initiation and return: separation from society, followed by a dangerous journey or perilous ordeal, culminating in a triumphant return to society. Mandela's life has in many respects followed this pattern: the Rivonia Trial removed him from the public view; he endured the severe ordeal of imprisonment; and he returned to society as a saviour-like figure. While the trajectory of Mandela's life fits into Campbell's model, and may explain in part the reverence and veneration, this approach can also diminish Mandela into a semi-mythical figure. The second line of inquiry is given greater weight, attaching special significance to Mandela's human qualities - his humility, integrity, generosity of spirit, and wisdom. He renounced grandiosity, ostentation, and personality cults, and strove to adopt an exemplary lifestyle. These qualities, it is argued, have been the main source of his popular appeal.

Keywords: Archetypal heroes; imprisonment; Joseph Campbell; leadership qualities; Mandela's presidency; messianism; Nelson Mandela; political styles


OPSOMMING

Hierdie artikel poog om deur middel van twee invalshoeke te verduidelik waarom dit in die onlangse dekades gebeur het dat Nelson Mandela tot so 'n mate eerbiedig en vereer word. Volgens die eerste benadering, kan Mandela beskou word as 'n argetipe held. Ongeveer sestig jaar gelede, het Joseph Campbell die tipiese verloop van die reise wat deur mitiese helde soos Odusseus en Aeneas onderneem is, omskryf. So 'n reis het 'n vaste patroon van skeiding, inisiasie en terugkeer gevolg: skeiding van die samelewing; gevolg deur 'n gevaarlike reis of vuurproef; wat kulmineer in 'n seëvierende terugkeer na die samelewing. Mandela se lewe het in baie opsigte hierdie patroon gevolg: die Rivonia-verhoor het hom uit die openbare oog verwyder; hy het die ontbering van gevangenskap verduur; en hy het na die samelewing teruggekeer as 'n tipe messiaanse figuur. Hoewel die trajek van Mandela se lewe met Campbell se model ooreenstem, en dus die eerbied en verering wat Mandela geniet mag verklaar, kan hierdie aanslag hom ook tot 'n semi-mitiese figuur reduseer. Die tweede invalshoek dra meer gewig. Dit fokus veral op Mandela se menslike hoedanighede - sy nederigheid, integriteit, groothartigheid, en wysheid. Hy het sy grootsheid, vertoon en persoonlikheidskultusse afgelê en daarna gestreef om 'n navolgenswaardige lewensstyl te handhaaf. Daar word aangevoer dat die vernaamste redes vir sy populariteit in hierdie eienskappe te vinde is.

Sleutelwoorde: Argetipe helde; gevangenskap; Joseph Campbell; leierskap eienskappe; Mandela se presidentskap; messianisme; Nelson Mandela; politieke style


 

 

Full text available only in PDF format.

 

1 M Maharaj, A Kathrada and K Parkin (eds), Mandela: the Authorised Portrait (Bloomsbury, London, 2006), p 5         [ Links ]
2 X Mangcu (ed), The Meaning of Mandela (HSRC Press, Cape Town, 2006), p viii         [ Links ]
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5 Maharaj, Kathrada & Parkin (eds), Mandela, p 314
6 Maharaj, Kathrada & Parkin (eds), Mandela, p 324
7 J Daniel, "Soldiering on: the post-presidential years of Nelson Mandela 1999-2005", in R Southall and H Melber (eds), Legacies of Power: Leadership Change and Former Presidents in African Politics (HSRC Press, Cape Town, 2006), pp 45-46         [ Links ]
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11 Sunday Times [South Africa], 25 February 2007
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15 A Stevens, Archetype Revisited (Brunner-Routledge, London, 2002), pp 60, 85-86
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19 D Wylie, Savage Delight: White Myths of Shaka (University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, 2000), pp 198-201
20 See P Maylam, The Cult of Rhodes: Remembering an Imperialist in Africa (David Philip, Cape Town, 2005)
21 Segal, "Introduction", p 17
22 J Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Pantheon Books, New York, 1949), pp 245-246
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26 Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p 97
27 Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, pp 35-36
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30 Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, pp 34-35
31 Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, pp 35-36
32 A Sampson, Mandela: The Authorised Biography (Jonathan Ball, Johannesburg, 1999), pp 142, 151-156; M Meredith, Nelson Mandela: A Biography (Penguin Books, London, 1997), pp 196-197, 206-207
33 Meredith, Nelson Mandela, p 268
34 T Lodge, Mandela: A Critical Life (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006), p 113
35 Meredith, Nelson Mandela, pp 262-263
36 Meredith, Nelson Mandela, pp 271-272
37 Sampson, Mandela, p 199
38 Sampson, Mandela, pp 205-208, 222-225; Lodge, Mandela, pp 116-118
39 Meredith, Nelson Mandela, pp 306-308; Sampson, Mandela, p 247
40 N Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (Macdonald Purnell, Johannesburg, 1994), pp 475-477
41 Meredith, Nelson Mandela, pp 314-317
42 Sampson, Mandela, pp 215-217; Lodge, Mandela, pp 122-123; Maharaj, Kathrada & Parkin (eds), Mandela, p 169
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44 Meredith, Nelson Mandela, p 356
45 Meredith, Nelson Mandela, p 343; Lodge, Mandela, p 190
46 Lodge, Mandela, pp 192-193
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50 Maharaj, Kathrada & Parkin (eds), Mandela, p 7
51 Sampson, Mandela, p 407
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53 Maharaj, Kathrada & Parkin (eds), Mandela, p 242
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55 Sampson, Mandela, p 417
56 Maharaj, Kathrada & Parkin (eds), Mandela, p 251
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59 Meredith, Nelson Mandela, pp 542-545
60 Sampson, Mandela, pp 556-560
61 Sampson, Mandela, p 520
62 Sampson, Mandela, pp 521-525
63 Sampson, Mandela, p 348
64 Smith, Mandela, p 64
65 Sampson, Mandela, p xv
66 Sampson, Mandela, p 253
67 Maharaj, Kathrada & Parkin (eds), Mandela, pp 168-169; Sampson,Mandela, p 581
68 Sampson, Mandela, p 581
69 Kalungu-Banda, Leading like Madiba, pp 35-36
70 Nixon, "Mandela, Messianism, and the Media", p 51
71 Sampson, Mandela, p 68
72 Meredith, Nelson Mandela, p 487
73 Mandela, Long Walk, p 215
74 K Asmal, D Chidester and W James (eds), Nelson Mandela: From Freedom to the Future (Jonathan Ball Publishers, Johannesburg & Cape Town, 2003), p 316
75 Sampson, Mandela, p 417
76 Kalungu-Banda, Leading Like Madiba, p 36
77 Sampson, Mandela, p 581
78 Sampson, Mandela, p 517; Meredith, Nelson Mandela, pp 540-541
79 Asmal, Chidester & James (eds), Nelson Mandela, p 141
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81 Sampson, Mandela, pp 216-217, 225; Meredith, Nelson Mandela, p 288
82 Asmal, Chidester & James (eds), Nelson Mandela, pp 5-6
83 Maharaj, Kathrada & Parkin (eds), Mandela, p 248
84 Lodge, Mandela, pp 172-173; Sampson, Mandela, p 506; Meredith, Nelson Mandela, p 413
85 Asmal, Chidester & James (eds), Nelson Mandela, p 443
86 Sampson, Mandela, p 585

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