On the same day that we were treated to the details of petty financial forgeries in the Madoff case and insider soap-operas at SAC capital—we also learned that a great man—Nelson Mandela—had passed away.
Nelson Mandela worked in the ranks of the African National Congress while free and from prison during its fight against apartheid. The ANC was supported by the Soviets at that time and was regarded with suspicion by many in the West. But when Mandela was released in 1990—shortly after the Berlin Wall fell—he embraced reconciliation rather than reprisal. Elected as President in 1994, he served one term and walked away from power in 1999—something revolutionary leaders almost never do.
He left office and retired—refusing to travel the world or seek out the limelight. His abiding legacy was the elevation of law over vengeance. His Truth and Reconciliation Commission brought out the truth, but avoided a bloody civil war. Mandela even spoke of some of the white guards from his 26 years in prison as his friends.
The contrast between his inspiring example and the insipid banality of the Madoff and SAC conspirators is instructive: greatness isn’t measured by the size of your wallet, but of your soul.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer