nelson mandela, who died on thursday at age 95, fully deserved the legendary stature he enjoyed around the world for the last quarter-century of his life. he was one of the most extraordinary liberation leaders africa, or any other continent, ever produced. not only did he lead his people to triumph over the deeply entrenched system of apartheid that enforced racial segregation in every area of south african life; he achieved this victory without the blood bath so many had predicted and feared [...]. and, as south africa’s first president elected by the full democratic franchise of all its people, he presided over a landmark truth and reconciliation process that finally allowed apartheid’s victims a measure of official recognition and acknowledgment of their suffering. mr. mandela’s enormous strength of character steeled him for his long struggle and ultimate victory over apartheid. even deeper resources of political wisdom and courage steered him toward the course of constructive reconciliation over destructive vengeance [...]. [source: new york times].