The BBC man apparently said 'significant', irrespective of whether the individual's impact was good or bad.
Therefore, Hitler, Ghandi, Churchill, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Lenin, Stalin, Kruschev, Gorbachev, Bin Laden, Tojo and Mao Tse Teung were far more significant than Mandela.
South Africa has a population of ~50million. Less than the number that died through the activities of World War 2.
It is so simplistic to look at it as a numbers game. It's just like when people claim the most evil people were the ones that killed the most, therefore Mao Zedong was the most evil ever and all the genocidal maniacs are nowhere near as evil because they are restricted by not having as many millions to kill as Mao did.
Mandela didn't only influence events in South Africa, he has been an inspirational figure throughout the world whether or not you think it is justified. Your definition of significant seems to revolve almost exclusively around whether they were involved in a big war. Maybe Mandela should have bombed the US triggering a huge invasion to be classed as significant?
That's not to agree that he was the most significant 'statesman' (Wikipedia: A statesman is usually a politician, diplomat or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career at the national or international level
) of the last 100 years. It is after all a subjective matter and I think it is hard to argue that he was but you cannot assert that he wasn't because South Africa is a relatively small country. .
Edited by Maximus Decimus, 13 December 2013 - 10:07 PM.