Nelson Mandela: A leader extraordinary
Nelson Mandela-a leader par excellence.
As we hear the news here in South Africa that former president Nelson Mandela passed away last night in his home in Houghton, Johannesburg we realize that what we and the world has expected for some time has become a reality. Should we mourn his passing away at the ripe old age of 95. Yes, for those who were close to him there must be the sadness of not being able to see him again. To most of us it is however rather a time to reflect on the impact that he has made on this country and on the world in general. At the end of a life I believe it a time to rather say thank you for what that person has done and meant rather than spend too much time on wasted emotion feeling sorry for ourselves.
It is his very humanness that makes Nelson Mandela the person that he was. He showed the world how we as humans can rise above the difficulties of life. His story tells us about how we need to love life, our families, our friends and even our enemies. This example I believe sets him apart as a leadership role model for all the world. Here was a person who believed strongly in freedom and fairness but only in his later life experienced some of it. At the same time he fought for those principles with resolve and determination his whole life.
As accolades pour in from far and wide some of us really for the first time understand the impact that he made where ever he went and on the lives of whomever he met. The “Madiba Magic” touched the lives of many and the list of persons who his smile,wisdom and encouragement touched is phenomenal.
As one person said during an interview this afternoon he was not only a great person but an intelligent and astute politician. Some of the statements that he made will be quoted in the future along some of the great statements of all time. One of my favorites is that he said, “children are not born to hate, but learn to do so.” Others that Zelda la Grange quotes in her book 'Good Morning, Mr. Mandel" is that bitterness is a wasted emotion an that It is good to assume that others are men of integrity until they prove otherwise.
Here was a man who on human terms had every reason to carry in his heart resentment, hate and revenge. Rather than following that path he chose to turn the other cheek and work towards reconciliation and peace.
Nelson Mandela was not afraid to stand up for what he believed was right. Often he would take a firm stand on an issue even in the face of stiff opposition because that was the kind of person he was. The film Invictus that chronicles his involvement in the Rugby World Cup in 1995 needs to be viewed again by everyone and shown to children in future generations.
It is fitting that the new film about his life made its appearance in the same week he passed on. The book about his life, “A long walk to freedom” and the film based on that book will be just one way that his memory will be carried into the future as a reminder that there exists in the human spirit the ability to overcome the odds that seem to be stacked against us. It is so easy to live a life of fear, hate, resentment and unhappiness as we battle with the lower negative emotions that paralyze our effectiveness. It is with pride that I as a South African salute this man whose smile will be remembered in time to come.
Somehow he managed to rise above the difficulties that so often drag us down into the valley of hate, aggression and despair. He seemed to stand above that, facing the challenges that tested him and rising above them to send a message of love into a world that needs it so much.
An incident that amazed me is recorded in the book 'Conversations with myself'. In his application to study for his law degree at the University of South Africa while still imprisoned, he applies for exemption from taking Latin as a subject because although he had passed Latin at Matric (Grade 12 Level) and also passed an introductory course at College, he now would have to start from scratch. Respectfully he asks if he can rather take a course called 'African Politics'.
In our garden the Strelitzia that has been named Mandela Gold is flowering this week. As I look out of my back window and see its beautiful color and interesting shape I cannot but think with fondness and pride about this man who in his extraordinary way has helped to shape our country and our world in a better way. Mandela comes from the Easter Cape, where I have been privileged to live for the most of my life. The local newspaper, The Daily Dispatch headlined on posters and the front page "Madiba is Dead" His example will however live on into the future for all to see.
As a South African I join tonight with many others from all over the world by saying “We salute you Madiba, and may you rest in peace!”
Good Morning, Mr. Mandela by Zelda la Grange
Conversations with myself by Nelson Mandela
The Long walk to freedom by Nelson Mandela