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Jul-04-2013 11:41printcomments

African Opposites: Morsi and Mandela

We can only speculate the possible outcome if Morsi was moreso like Mandela and took a page out of his populist book.

Mandela and Morsi
Mandela and Morsi

(SALEM) - The people's voice prevailed at both ends of the African continent. Those polar opposites, as history will render in its final report, came from South Africa and Egypt. Both had its champions of causes, one for Human Rights; the other for domination by his faith.

We are of course speaking of the vast contrast between Nelson Mandela, a onetime Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Mohammed Morsi, just ousted as the President of Egypt. Each came to power in a period of transition marked by widespread hopes for a brighter future. But one was blessed and the other cursed in how they pursued their goals.

Mandela had suffered incarceration for 27 years because he opposed apartheid, the separation of races and oppression of the Black majority by the minority white government. His predecessor, President F.W. deClerk, partnered in a smooth nonviolent transition in the 1990's. Mandela rallied the public to his side and refused to dole out punishment to his former oppressors. In so doing, he followed in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who had preached the gospel of nonviolence.

In blunt contrast, Morsi won after the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was forced to leave his 30-plus tyrannical rule when the masses erupted and demanded that he leave. He was resistant and intially refused to go, but public riots grew so intense that he had no choice. Free elections and a new constitution emerged, coining the term "Arab Spring" as a symbol of new budding democracy.

The army took on interim rule while parties organized for its first free election. The Muslim Brotherhood had long been underground, seeking a strict Islamic state and booting out secularism. They mobilized for Morsi who took office, only to reward his party friends with virtually all the appointed posts and marginalize all others. Bitter resentment was the result.

Once the Egyptian Army brass saw yet another mass distribution in Tahiri Square, they issued an ultimatum to Morsi: reply to the demonstrators in 48 hours or step aside. He attained neither so they took over and an overdue coup took place. The people were elated. Their voices carried the day.

We can only speculate the possible outcome if Morsi was moreso like Mandela and took a page out of his populist book. Yes, Mandela is still alive, if in serious condition as he approaches year 95 this July 18th. Africa is no longer the Dark Continent. Enlightenment in S. Africa and now Egypt shines forth for each of us.

NOTE: Lee Coyne received his BA in International Relations back in 1963.  In the half-century since, he has analyzed issues in the news and the players involved.  He wants to hear your views as well - email:


NOTE: B. Lee Coyne first emerged as a Caucasian cub reporter for the Black weekly NY Voice and was assigned to cover numerous civil rights struggles. It has left its indelible mark on his mindset. He can be contacted at:

B. Lee Coyne, a NYC native, blends three careers: Journalist, Counselor, Educator. His writings have appeared in newspapers and magazines on the East and West Coasts and the Southwest. He loves the art of the interview and has covered such persons as Dr. King's 1963 "Dream" speech and Sen. William

Proxmire as an advocate for the environment. A global traveller to some 30 countries aboard, he speaks Spanish semi-fluently and very rudimentary Russian, Tagalog, German, Arabic and Hebrew.

Lee's legacy here in Salem includes launching the Salem Peace Mosaic at the YMCA and doing a radio talk show for KMUZ/88.5 FM. It airs Mondays and highlights lives of proactive, productive senior citizens. He invites you to contact him at:



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Ramy Ibrahim August 2, 2013 11:24 am (Pacific time)

Barry, you do not know anything about the issue you are talking about when it comes to president Mursi .. or just because Mursi is a Muslim .. maybe that is why .. Barry you are an unti-Islam man, try to clean your heart.

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