On the day of Nelson Mandela's memorial service, two guests on The Daily Circuit discussed his legacy.
They described the process of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which gave immunity to perpetrators of crimes committed during the apartheid years in exchange for their public testimony about their role.
The process did not satisfy every person who thirsted for revenge, but it did heal the country and allow it to move on.
Here are highlights of our guests' comments:
Jason Johnson, a political scientist who worked with the Federal Elections Commission in South Africa:
"I was amazed at what seemed to be an almost collective sense of forgiveness. And I remember saying to some of my colleagues, 'I don't get this. If this was America — we're still very angry.' The last 'whites only' sign was probably taken down 15 years before I was born, and we're still angry.
"I was told by many of my colleagues there, 'Here's the thing: It's much easier to forgive when we got our country back.' They said, 'In the United States, while there were laws put in place to end discrimination and end public abuse of minorities, you are still a minority. You still do not control the wheels and the mechanisms and the levers of government.'
"So there's an understandable frustration that still exists. ... It's easier to forgive when many people felt like they've now ended up on top, after years and years of oppression."
Charles Villa Vicencio, who served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:
"That is the amazing thing. ... I visit your country on a regular basis. America is just more committed to litigation and retribution than Africans are.
"Africans are strange people ... we look at this thing in terms of long-term restitution. We look at it in terms of rebuilding rather than asking someone to pay an immediate price now. It's a type of justice that I think Europeans and North American people find very difficult to accept or understand. It's restorative justice. ...
"Let us remember that with this deal, where perpetrators were given an incredible break to come back in and to join society, they in turn agreed to a democratic election. The military forces laid down their arms. Mr. De Klerk, who was president at the time ... handed over power to a black majority and withdrew from the scene. So let's mention his name as well."