As a young man not particularly interested in world politics I , like many of my peers had no idea of apartheid and the struggles of the man who was the face of this oppressive regime. There was no internet, no twitter, no Facebook or any of the social media. We got our news from the black and white TV with the rat antenna in the living room and it was not until the 1992 Olympics when South Africa participated that I took notice and decided to find out about apartheid. It was then that I knew of Nelson Mandela. I found out about his struggles and his hardships. I was too young then to understand why this was happening in the world in the1990’s.
“Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose”…. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was released and became the first President of his country, a country he began fighting for at the age of 25, put in jail and sentenced for life , denied his human dignity and still he led his country to a smooth transition without the letting of any blood. He insisted that South Africa had enough blood-letting.
” We cannot afford to be killing one another…” Nelson Mandela
Here we are , once again, the world is taught that progress and peace can only be achieved through love ,understanding, courage and forgiveness. Gandhi, Martin Luther and now Nelson Mandela. All three achieved what every President and Prime Minister has tried to do and failed and all three did so without striking or dropping a weapon. I cannot help but think that we are no different from the people who crucified another man who spoke of peace and love. Human beings are not objects of change. We love, we hate, we rob , we kill , we gossip, we create, we do great things but there is something we cannot do..and that is to forgive our enemies and so when someone like Mandela or Gandhi or even Dr. King do it we challenge them and chastise them for selling out.
Man has always shown he needs to be led, he has to be led and there are leaders that have come and all are going some day. But none of them, not one will be remembered or celebrated for the work or life they have lived than that of Nelson Mandela and for that matter King or Gandhi. He was a President of Presidents. Mandela was not perfect. He had human failings but he understood one thing, a leader leads by example.
I am thankful that I have come to know his work and see in my lifetime apartheid ended. I respect and admire him for his tenacity and grace under extreme prejudice. He has taught me one thing , forgive your enemies . When he came out of jail his enemies embraced him and smiled with him. His life in jail taught him to lead his people, to develop his people , to give his people something as he lived their life and knew what they were going through. He had nothing for years…..no voice, no wealth, no justice so he knows what it is to be poor. That is the difference between him and the leaders of today. He suffered.
..“The titanic effort that has brought liberation to South Africa, and ensured the total liberation of Africa, constitutes an act of redemption for the black people of the world….”Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela’s victories is a victory for every person who are oppressed and feel trapped by the systems created by governments and society. He has shown us that nothing last forever. He once said…“its impossible until it happens…” Nelson Mandela’s legacy will be etched in the minds of generations to come. He is one of the standard-bearer of courage under fire. The Egyptians will tell you..there is no Egypt without the Nile. I am here to proclaim today..There is no leader like Nelson Mandela. He is a President of Presidents, Leader above leaders , a mere human among humans. RIP Madiba. We give thanks for your life.