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Nelson Mandela's Own Words

Updated on February 19, 2015

If there is one book (after your religious tomes) to share with your kids, it is this one. Share your thoughts with them on how this man withstood dehumanizing treatment and emerged triumphant.

Your kids will learn empathy from your sharing of your compassion towards the imprisoned - those in cells and those encased in hearts of hatred. Free them before they enslave others.

Apartheid slammed the world and Nelson Mandela fought back with grace.

He's one world leader whose

magnificent legacy has blessed the world for decades during his lifetime and which will continue long after ours come to an end. 27 years in prison and he emerges with a wave and a smile!

Grace walking, Nelson Mandela epitomized the tenents of his belief as he challenged the scourge of Apartheid in South Africa, and by extension, prejudice against indigenous peoples, worldwide.

I 'met' him in a university art studio

through a fellow student's depictions of his then wife Winnie Mandela's vigil outside the third of the three prisons that held him captive for 27 years, first Robben Island, and later Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison.

She was a dedicated supporter of civil rights and couldn't grasp such obliviousness to world affairs as I then exhibited. That's right, my life as a rural housewife and mom was about as apolitical as one could get. My world revolved around home, our acreage, church, and extended families in the closest metropolitan area.

Yes, a rural life can be demanding, and it can seem all encompassing and wondrous, relatively isolated back in the days before cable TV came to our neighborhood. We were too busy with chores both indoors and out, and even radio reception and newspapers were limited and local. Here's the type of life I lived. Woman wires house.

Karen was a prolific painter with

a palette knife. Her paintings were delicious, in colors that looked as appetizing as a Summer luncheon plate. Yet her content was anything but appetizing. She lived on a ranch that employed migrant labor from time to time, in an area where she had exposure to the plight of the transient families that plant and pick our crops.

Maybe that's what informed her conscience, but she must have considered my interest in family matters as a bit ditzy compared with her vital concerns for the displaced. Karen probably could have reeled off this Timeline of Mandela's incarceration. from the website.

27 years, from 1962 - 1990, he led

his people to freedom and leadership of their own land - from a prison cell. Google Cultural Institute has compiled an intriguing visual and textual presentation of those years. Mandela's imprisonment has special impact because of it's interweaving of text and images, to aid in retention. Be sure to Sign In to gain access.

Listen to the Mandela tapes here

as presented by Robin Benger, erstwhile CBC radio production staff worker who was a politically engaged student in activities to overturn apartheid in the nation in his youth - for an intimate view of the man's ethos.

Rick Stendel, presently Time Magazine managing editor and pending nominee for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs had the privilege of a four-year long insider position with Mandela, when he ad access to hours of personal conversations and question-answer sessions, from 1992 through 1996, when the world had its initial views of the former prisoner.

This tape presentation results from

Stendel's intensive relationship with Mandela as he debriefed with the reporter who was himself so actively involved with the cause decades earlier.

One must wonder how he could have withstood decades of torture and isolation and remained whole in heart and mind, and with a body that flourished for 95 years. How he endured, what he shared, reaches to the core of what it means to believe.

My knowledge of Nelson Mandela

links his cause, to eradicate racism and its tentacles from the world, to my sensitivities to the disempowered of all races and nationalities who suffer especially from TBI and other disabilities or disenfranchisements and disrespect from the powers that be, in a more local sense, that I can wrap my mind around.

We are privileged to benefit from the wisdom of his words and the impressions of those who were graced by his presence, and for me, Karen's painting of Winnie standing outside the cyclone fence is imprinted on my consciousness as a symbol of striving for the (hopefully, God willing) attainable.

Mandela's Way: Lessons for an Uncertain Age
Mandela's Way: Lessons for an Uncertain Age

Richard Stengel formats the teachings of the famous prisoner and first indigenous President of South Africa into 15 vital lessons for humankind.

Conversations with Myself
Conversations with Myself

Learn from his journal writings, letters and diaries and recordings, what this man was all about.

Mandela: An Illustrated Autobiography
Mandela: An Illustrated Autobiography

A coffee table volume filled with hundreds of photographs that bring the President of South Africa into our homes.


He Relinquished His Right to Bitterness as a gift to us all.

A beautiful reminder to those of us who might seethe over the small things.

What are your thoughts and stories about Nelson Mandela's effect on your life?

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    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 

      5 years ago from Ireland

      This is such a lovely tribute to this amazing man who had the courage of a lion to lead his people out of apartheid. It's sad that the world has lost a rare peacemaker who stood up for human rights, he will be missed by so many, but let's hope the South African people can try to continue his work.

    • takkhisa profile image


      5 years ago

      He is the person who knew the value of equal right. Everyone should know this!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis: "True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." Nice lens, Papier!

    • somergreat48 profile image


      5 years ago

      His presence blessed the earth.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Having worked on a project in South Africa, I truly appreciate the man that Nelson Mandela was. He lived what he believed in.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      5 years ago from Colorado

      I love what you stated about sharing Nelson Mandela with our children. In many ways, he is the great legacy we can leave with them. Any child who takes to heart Nelson Mandela's teachings, and his actions, will have what it takes to emerge triumphant throughout life. Thank you for this powerful tribute.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 

      5 years ago from Lakewood New York

      An outstanding lens to pay tribute to an outstanding man and peacemaker. Thanks

    • sousababy profile image


      5 years ago

      Just an incredible soul who worked with unmeasurable dedication to a cause. On some level, Nelson Mandela must've had great faith that everything he did and everything he stood for mattered - to the whole of humanity. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela, the world is forever grateful.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      A beautiful tribute to an extraordinary man.

    • Jogalog profile image


      5 years ago

      A wonderful lens to share with us today.

    • lesliesinclair profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @GrammieOlivia: My experience of the man is but like a snowflake in the scope of his influence on the world.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Papier, this is a wonderful review of the man and the books, I love him and this lens. You have done us all a great service.


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