Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Death Of South Africa Apartheid Leader Time To Reflect On Personal Concepts Of Forgiveness

The death of former South Africa President PW Botha is a moment for people to consider the merits and limits of forgiveness. Botha presided over apartheid South Africa and over the first steps towards the dismantling of apartheid. As an apartheid-era leader, Botha did many bad and brutal things. 

Nelson Mandela said about Botha, “While to many Mr. Botha will remain a symbol of apartheid, we also remember him for the steps he took towards the eventual peacefully negotiated settlement in our country.” Even if some of Mandela’s motives are political, it is an example to me that Mandela could find it in him to say anything good at all about Botha.

Other reactions from South Africa, linked to here, were more critical. It is hard to blame people for hard feelings towards Botha. 

We are often faced with situations where we must decide if we are going to forgive someone. Most of these issues are minor. If Nelson Mandela, after losing so many years of his life in prison, can find a way to some measure of forgiveness for PW Botha—It seems that we can be liberal in who we forgive on a day-to-day basis.   

Botha’s death, and Mandela’s reaction to it, should spur us to think about people in our own lives who may or may not merit forgiveness. It is a time to evaluate our personal concepts of forgiveness and to see if they reflect our best impulses.          

November 3, 2006 - Posted by | Best Posts 2006, Uncategorized


  1. I really like what you’re saying here. Where I struggle with forgiveness is forgiving those who aren’t contrite. Hating somebody who wronged me years ago really only harms me, but it’s much harder to find forgiveness for someone who isn’t sorry for what they did.

    Comment by Brendan | November 3, 2006

  2. That is remarkable and inspirational. Mandela is a true leader. He keeps seeing the future as a new possibility.

    Comment by naturalhigh | November 3, 2006

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