South Africa is just as divided by race as it was when Mandela was in prison. It is broken up into countless tiny factions protected by real and metaphorical violence. There is no trusted institution in the country that unites it. There is no trust by South Africans in each other.
When a farmer’s family is brutally murdered by his own workers and men rape the children of their neighbors in the hopes of curing themselves of AIDS—there can be no such thing as trust. The story told in so many of the movies where Mandela played by Sidney Poitier or Morgan Freeman teaches blacks and whites to set aside their hatred has not worked out nearly as well in real life.
In the new apartheid, the black government represses a white minority and abuses its power over the black majority in ways that Western liberals would never tolerate if it were being practiced by men with Dutch last names. Every government crime is covered up by more incitement against the white minority with each generation of activists struggling to outdo the previous generation in its anti-white racism.
There has been no moment of transcendence that endured. No cure for the things tearing the nation apart. There is no new spirit in South Africa. There is a new apartheid defined not by law, but by hate. Freedom and democracy are equally vaporous under the rule of a political movement obsessed with the vicious pragmatism of power now being exercised by Mandela’s African National Congress successors.Nelson Mandela may have been a great man who stood for great things (even if, when it came to the likes of Yasser Arafat, his judgment was less than astute). But the South Africa of today, the one that hails him as a father and an icon, is a suppurating mess.