While Nelson Mandela’s greatness as a democratic leader in South Africa is unquestioned, his legacy in the realm of foreign policy is much more ambiguous. We have much to learn not only from South Africa’s own democracy, but also from the country’s “shortcomings” as a global democratic leader, including some underlying truths that its experience has revealed about how democracy can actually be fostered. Mandela’s legacy teaches that social, civic, and economic pressures against tyranny alone will not suffice; political movements dedicated not just to democracy but also to governing when the opportunity arises are required.