A `Miracle' for All Humanity Mandela's Inauguration Marks a Triumphant Moment in South African - and World - History

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IT was a moment when South Africans - embroiled in the day-to-day turmoil of transition - could stand back and look at themselves in the mirror provided by an ecstatic world community determined to savor a rare moment of global triumph.

The inauguration of President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as one of those unusual events that reaffirms the unity of mankind and celebrates the limitless potential of humanity.

"Today, all of us do, by our presence here and by our celebrations in other parts of our country and the world, confer glory and hope to newborn liberty," President Mandela said, moments after taking the oath of office.

United States Vice President Al Gore, Jr., who is leading a 65-member-strong delegation to the inauguration, captured the moment shortly after his arrival in the country on May 9:

"I find it difficult to put into words the feelings all of us have as we come here representing the United States of America at such a historic moment for South Africa and for all mankind."

"The history we are present to witness marks a transition in the history of the world," Mr. Gore said.

The birth of the new South Africa has been called a miracle. It certainly has all the ingredients of a fairy tale. And the whole world is here to revel in it.

More than 60 Presidents, delegations from 150 countries, a dozen kings and princes, and thousands of dignitaries packed the sandstone amphitheater of the majestic Union Buildings to witness one of the seminal events of the second-half of the 20th century.

An estimated 1 billion people worldwide watched the event live on television.

After decades of apartheid isolation, it is now South Africa's turn to contribute to the resolution of the problems of our time: the revival of ethnicity, poverty, and the north/south divide; and how to mold cultural, religious, and ethnic diversity into one nation. …