Two world leaders exited our lives this month – one smothered in global affection – the other dispatched into silence for crimes “dissolute and depraved”. A few thoughts on how it looks from here in the UK.
The first leader was South Africa’s Nelson Mandela – humble, courageous and charismatic – the master-mind of extraordinary racial and political healing.
The second man of influence was Jang Song-thaek of North Korea, uncle to the supreme leader Kim Jong-un and reputed to have been, after his nephew, the second most influential man in the country.
Mandela died at the age of 95. He had spent 27 years in prison and only became the country’s president at the age of 70.
Jang Song-thaek was 67 when he was executed after years of service to his country. Perhaps, if his life had been spared as Mandela’s was in 1964, he too might have led transformation.
The two countries, South Africa and North Korea, could hardly be more different, yet the need for business and resources is proving magnetic. Let’s hope that the lessons of Mandela never become lost in the restless drive for progress.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela