Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, born 18 July 1918; died 5 December 2013
Originally published in The Independent
Nelson Mandela was a man, always, of his time. Yet he was, paradoxically, one who in some ways stood apart from – and even above – that time. It was in this that his greatness lay.
Mr Mandela, who died on Sunday night aged 94, was a towering figure in the 20th century. He did not just bestride the continent of Africa but became a political colossus of the entire world stage.
Yet he was more even than that. The magnanimity he displayed, as the white rule of apartheid crumbled in his native South Africa in 1990, created a paradigm shift in what was possible - or even thinkable - in modern politics.