Was he truly great?

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The man has been buried, and the world leaders have now all gone home. So now may be a good time to examine the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

The tributes have been generous, and some have even called Mandela one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century. But are such accolades deserved?

I’m probably going to get myself into trouble for saying it, but I think he was a little overrated. Sure, he did some good work, but how much impact did he really have on the lives of ordinary South Africans?

For me Nelson Mandela was at the peak of his powers when he played the role of a prisoner. He played the part with dignity and gravitas, and the world sat up and noticed. After that he became an international star and he never lacked work, but was anything he ever did afterwards as good?

No, I reckon he was never better than in The Shawshank Redemption.

Sure, he had a bunch of hits afterwards, and he even played God in a couple of films (a fitting part, considering the nature of some of the tributes). But Ellis “Red” Redding, the convict serving life in prison, was his best role.

Nelson Mandela remained a powerful cinematic presence right up until his death at the age of 95. His performance in the film Invictus, where he played the part of Morgan Freeman, was one of his most effective, and his distinctive voice meant he was never short of work offers.

Not a bad list of achievements for a boy from Tennessee. But was he really a great man?

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