Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

“I am the master of my fate,

  I am the captain of my soul.” ~ WE Henley, ‘Invictus’


Mandela’s words …

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph if you have the iron will and the necessary skill.”

The words of others …

“He inspired us to walk the path of forgiveness and reconciliation, and so South Africa did not go up in flames.” ~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“He was a man of courage, principle and unquestionable integrity, a great human being, someone of whom we can truly say, ‘He lived a meaningful life’.” ~ Dalai Lama

“He made us realise we are our brother’s keeper and that our brothers come in all colours.” ~ Muhammad Ali

“He proved that there is freedom in forgiving, that a big heart is better than a closed mind, and that life’s real victories must be shared.” ~ Bill Clinton

If only all politicians were more like him … As they pay their personal tributes to the great man – a man, not a saint, for he, like all mortals, had his faults – surely they would honour his memory more, not with words, but by emulating him, as much as they possibly can.  This was a man who did not succumb to bitter rage following his years in prison; who did not advocate violence on his release … Instead he embraced the ideals of reconciliation; his forgiveness was genuine, his generosity was genuine.

When elected president, Mandela didn’t cling to the reins of power; he wasn’t an Amin or a Mugabe, for two years later, he stepped down.  And, even then, when the world was still so fixated on him, he didn’t attempt to influence the government.  Instead, he stepped well away, gradually moving away from the public eye.  He put the country and the people first, before himself.  I wonder, how many world leaders/politicians are prepared to do that … to view themselves as less important than the people who voted them into power?

What an amazing life Nelson Mandela has had; the world has lost a rare man indeed.