South Africa expert available to comment on death of Nelson Mandela

An expert in international development, who specializes in South Africa, from Western University is available to comment about the death of Nelson Mandela, who passed away earlier today at the age of 95.

Belinda Dodson, the former Director of Western’s Graduate Program in Migration and Ethnic Relations, says it is no longer fashionable to talk about great men in history, but Nelson Mandela truly was a great man and without him the history of South Africa would probably have proceeded along a very different and much darker path.

“His death marks a sad day for his family, for South Africa, for Africa and for the world, though the real loss was the close to 30 years that he spent as a political prisoner under the apartheid regime,” says Dodson, a geography professor in Western’s Faculty of Social Science.

“The fact that he was able to come away from that experience not vengeful but conciliatory is not only remarkable in itself, but was a key factor in South Africa’s transformation from a draconian and racist state to one that is more progressive, inclusive and democratic.”

After serving as South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999, Dodson says Mandela became increasingly frail and gradually retreated from the public realm.

“His life exemplified the selflessness, sacrifice and humility that are the hallmarks of true leadership and he leaves an inestimable personal and political legacy,” says Dosdon.

To interview Dodson, please contact her via email at or call Jeff Renaud, Western’s Senior Media Relations Officer at 519-520-7281.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165,, @jeffrenaud99

Western delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.