It is no longer news that the great Nelson Mandela has passed on; but even in death, he is still celebrated all around the world and undoubtedly will be so celebrated for generations to come. Notable world leaders from far and wide have been pouring well-deserved emcomiums to the great legend. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a man who went to the extremes of torture, persecution and yet rose from it all by standing firm, showing compassion and provided the leadership that has taken his country from the extremes of apartheid through to democracy, peace and development. If he could be described in one word, he would be called an ICONOCLAST.
Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years because of his fight against white minority rule. He became determined to use his prestige and charisma to stop apartheid while avoiding a civil war in the country. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1993). He was a man who believed and fought for the freedom of his people and what he believed in justice and fairness despite all the setbacks he encountered.
His notable quotes cannot be forgotten, some of his notables were “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say, part of being an optimist is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward”
‘As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison’
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”
“No one is born hating another person because of the skin color, or his background, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite”.
Nelson Mandela fought and guided South Africa from the shackles of apartheid to multi-racial democracy and became an international icon of peace, justice and reconciliation who came to embody the struggle for justice around the world.
His fight against the white minority rule and long incarceration for fighting against segregation focused the world’s attention on apartheid, the legalized racial segregation enforced by the South African government until 1994.
His message of reconciliation, not vengeance inspired the world after he negotiated a peaceful end to segregation and urged forgiveness for the white government that imprisoned him. ‘The time for healing and forgiveness has come, the time to bridge the chasms that divide us has come’, Mandela said in his acceptance speech on becoming South Africa’s first black president in 1994.
‘We have at last achieved our political emancipation’
Mandela also played a major role on the world stage as an advocate of human dignity in the face of challenges ranging from political repression to AIDS. Along with his many peace and educational activities Mandela was prominent and outspoken in the effort against AIDS. For Nelson Mandela, AIDS is another war, another impossibility which can still be won. Since 2003 Mandela supported the 46664 concerts to support HIV/AIDS victims and research.
With all his achievements, awards and honorary accolades, the Nelson Mandela’s achievements are so many, certainly more than what most men can achieve in a life time. From a young boy, schooled for royalty, to political activist, to prisoner, to president, to honored scholar and elder statesman Nelson Mandela has done so much for the world and will surely go down as one of history’s greatest men. From a world that will never forget, we say rest Mandela, Rest in peace.