We’ve lost one of the greatest statesmen who ever lived, and behind him he’s leaving a huge void.
Farewell Nelson Mandela
His passing is all over our TV’s and on every social network …”A crowd has gathered outside the house where Mr Mandela died. Some are flying South African flags and wearing the shirts of the governing African National Congress, which Mr Mandela once led.”
I expect the tributes will keep coming from far and wide for many hours today.
We lived in Southern Africa for many years, and in all my time in South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho, the name “Nelson Mandela,” was never far from our lips.
He was many things; freedom fighter, lawyer, revolutionary, politician, world leader, husband, father, grandfather, spirit of a nation. I remember visiting his spartan cell on Robben Island and wondering how it was possible for a man to spend 27 years in prison and not only educate himself to a high level, but also to come away with only forgiveness for his jailors in his heart.
When apartheid reigned he was considered a revolutionary, swiftly followed by a saint on his release from prison, and a world leader of magnum proportion.
He preached reconciliation, and forgiveness. He was credited with dismantling South Africa’s system of apartheid which institutionalised racism. Mostly Mandela was an international symbol of reconciliation and human rights.
His big ideas are renowned, his focus on being the best person you can be are often conjured into my memory … as in an extract from a letter to his ex-wife, Winnie below.
From a letter to Winnie Mandela in Kroonstad Prison
“… the cell is an ideal place to learn to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the process of your own mind and feelings. In judging our progress as individuals we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education. These are, of course, important in measuring one’s success in material matters and it is perfectly understandable if many people exert themselves mainly to achieve all these. But internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being. Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities which are within easy reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life.”
The above extract is from a book, “Nelson Mandela: Conversations with Myself”, published by Pan MacMillan. It was a letter to Winnie Mandela, dated 1 February, 1975, translated from Xhosa into English and typed up by a prison official. You can read more extracts from Mandela’s letters Here.
Who can ever forget his quotations?
“It always seems impossible until it’s done,” is one that I often keep in mind.
The following are from “In the Words of Nelson Mandela, A Little Pocketbook” edited by Jennifer Crwys-Williams, published by Penguin Books, and as Lifestyle Fifty readers are reaching their golden age I take heart by …
“What nature has decreed, should not generate undue security.”
And in our families as much as in the realm of world peace …
“We need to reconcile our differences through reason, debate and compromise,”
May the lessons he taught a generation never be forgotten, and may he now after a life that ranged from rags to proverbial riches, rest in peace.
“Death is something inevitable.When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people & his country, he can rest in peace.” Madiba
As the wheels of the large State Funeral begin to turn for the ceremony that takes place next week, I hope that he gets his wish …
“I would just like a simple stone on which is written, Mandela. “
Interested in more about Madiba’s life?
An extraordinary life devoted to the greater good
So as we say Farewell Nelson Mandela, do you have an over-riding memory of this great man … or perhaps a favourite quote you’d like to share?