RIP Nelson Mandela
From a political prisoner and an anti-apartheid icon to the becoming the first black President of South Africa, he did it all. Nelson Mandela, the winner of the Nobel Peace prize, Bharat Ratna, Presidential Medal of Freedom and over 250 other honours, passed away Thursday night at the age of 95.
The current President of South Africa Jacob Zuma confirmed the news, saying–
“He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss. His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world.”
Zuma also added that Mandela would be given a full state funeral, and ordered flags to be hoisted at half mast.
Nelson Mandela often referred to as South Africa’s “Father of the Nation” guided the country out of the shackles of apartheid and made it a multi-racial democracy. He spent 27 years in prison, after being branded a “terrorist” by the South African government for his role in the battle against apartheid. The leaders of the struggle were isolated and kept under extreme conditions, but Mandela remained resolute, calm and non-violent in his defiance of the government. He was finally released on Feb. 11, 1990.
He describes this experience of his in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, “As I finally walked through those gates … I felt — even at the age of seventy-one — that my life was beginning anew.”
Mandela after fighting against the white minority rule managed to bring down the apartheid, avoiding a civil war and became the first black President of South Africa in the year 1994.
His place as South Africa’s first hero is completely secure. The fact that, in the year 2012 the South African Reserve bank issued new bank notes with his face on it, and that the country is full of statues in his likeness are a testimony to his importance.
Apart from his role as an anti-apartheid hero he will also be remembered as someone who had the ability to move millions with his words. Here are a few of my favourite quotes by Mandela:
- “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 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, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
- “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
- “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.”
- “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
World leaders like Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Manmohan Singh and David Cameron all paid him a tribute with their gracious words. Now, let’s just hope that they take out the time to learn something from him too. However, even though Nelson Mandela is no more with us, his words and teachings will always be. His light will shine on.
May his soul rest in peace.
What do you have to say about this great man? Write your opinions in the comment box below.