From Mandela’s Virtue by Travis Kavulla on National Review Online:
Some political heroes go out in a flame of glory. Lincoln. Gandhi. Nelson Mandela grew old, and outlived by more than a decade his momentous achievements. In the last decade, he already had migrated from flesh-and-blood political hero to revered icon of history.
Mandela rarely appeared publicly in this new millennium. During the campaign that swept into office South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma, in 2009, Mandela made only one notable appearance that I can remember: to vote. Crowds gathered around the polling station, in a tony suburb of Johannesburg, jockeying for a look at Madiba. And a look was all that could be had.
Mandela arrived in a dark-windowed sedan, emerged, turned to the crowd and waved, walked into the polling station, did his civic duty, and left. In the air, helicopters circled. On the ground, you barely got a look at him at all. He didn’t need to speak to lend his moral gravity to a seamy political campaign. Everyone recognized Mandela as, in a word, incorruptible.