Dear revisionists, Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail... Well, try hard as you like, and you'll fail. Because Mandela was about politics and he was about race and he was about freedom and he was even about force, and he did what he felt he had to do and given the current economic inequality in South Africa he might even have died thinking he didn't do nearly enough of it.
If there had been no Mandela, or if Mandela had been a different kind of man, would South Africa's destiny have been different? How much difference can one man make? These are not, I know, original questions. But I think, for obvious reasons that I don't have to spell out, this may be a good week to ponder them.
Mandela has been a leader of remarkable courage, of stamina and resilience. These qualities started to show early in school, as Mandela suffered penalties and expulsions, the result of his steady anti-apartheid conviction. He went to law school, passed the bar and helped to establish South Africa's most prestigious black law firm. No small feat, these accomplishments in those days.
The reactions and tributes to Margaret Thatcher's death have illustrated the way in which modern conservatives have emptied the words 'freedom' and 'liberty' of all meaning and import. If (wo)man is judged by the company (s)he keeps, then Thatcher must be judged a champion of despotism and dictatorship, not of freedom or liberty.
As the first generation of children born free of segregation come of age, the August edition of BBC Africa Debate will explore race relations and inequality in South Africa over the last 18 years. A panel of 18 year olds - part of the 'born-free' generation will discuss their experiences growing up in modern South Africa.