Reflections on Nelson Mandela's Legacy

December 05, 2013

"As a university long dedicated to human rights around the globe and civil rights here at home, we in the Columbia community feel acutely the loss of a true world leader like Nelson Mandela," said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. "Few among us can imagine acting with the determination and dignity he maintained in standing up against a brutal apartheid regime he did so much to dismantle, whether from a South African prison cell or president's office. Perhaps the greatest testament we could pay to his humility, grace and vision would be to rededicate ourselves to scholarship and action energized by his ideals of racial equality, social justice, democratic change and peaceful reconciliation."

Professor Mamadou Diouf, Leitner Family Professor of African Studies and director of Columbia's Institute for African Studies, discusses Nelson Mandela's life and lasting influence. He believes the way in which Mandela left power may be his most important legacy. “This man decided to do one term and leave. And this is a revolution in Africa,” says Diouf. “He could have stayed until his death because he was already the myth.”

Nelson Mandela