The myth and the man
Mandela was still a fairytale figure to millions of people around the world the prisoner who became president, who caught the imagination of crowds and children. The name Mandela was attached to streets, squares, scholarships and buildings across the world including an elegant new bridge across central Johannesburg that celebrated his 85th birthday.The less heroic other world leaders, the more Mandela appeared as a solitary hero left over from an age of giants. And as an individual freed from the compromises of power, his icon shone still brighter.But the myth was still connected to a statesman who could play a role in a dangerous and divided world. His long career had given him a deep personal experience of both power and powerlessness. He could speak for the huge populations in the developing world who were ignored by the richer countries, while he retained his moral authority in the West, even in America, as the champion of reconciliation and a multiracial society.