One of the greatest people to grace this earth, Nelson Mandela is again ill and may not be around us for much longer. It’s brought up a lot of the emotions I feel for this man. When I was at school I would have to say the biggest issue I learnt there was the attosity of the then ongoing apartheid system in South Africa. It repulsed me to the core. No other global issue at that time caught my imagination as discrimination is certainly one of our most foolish (and tragically, often deadly traits).
I recall vividly the day Mandela was released from jail in part because I saw it when I stopped by to see my ex. gf (who was the first love of my life) and it is the last time I saw her. To imagine that day how quickly apartheid would be cast into the sewer of history that it belonged in would have seemed like an impossibility. To imagine after that that the oppressed majority would not seek considerable revenge for decades of abuse was also barely comprehensible.
Mandela made those things happen. But not just that, he did so as a humble man and with a grace and dignity that is incomparable to that of any other Statesman of the modern age. What a glorious slap in the face to those Apartheid white supremacist racists to think that the most loved and respected leader in the world would be theirs and he was black.
Unlike most leaders of change and revolution, once he served his term, he left. He was no egomaniac leader for life. Though ironically no one else could come close.
What he did with the rugby World Cup is also monumental and I’ve attached a clip below that wonderfully explains how he used it to bring both sides of the previous conflict together. This is what truly great people do. They don’t beat their enemies. They make them better humans.
I had an acquaintance from South Africa years ago who spoke about Mandela’s amazing presence when he visited a school she attended and the impact it had on her. When I knew her she studied and Oxford in the UK. A few years later I googled her and discovered she headed up an educational division of Mandela’s own foundation. Beautiful.
That era in South Africa also gave us the monumental Bishop Desmond Tutu who I was fortunate enough to be in the presence of years ago.
I have personally known some great civil rights leaders but what these two men had that others don’t is they could walk across the room to their enemies, give them the warmest of handshakes and literally watch the walls between them dissolve and thus create positive change. I can think of few historical figures who deserve to be taught with the same weight as lives such as these.
Few people make seismic change in the world and fewer make it positive change. What an inspiration.
As a mark of thanks while he is still with us and ill I posted the image attached below to my profile pic on facebook and twitter and hope others might do the same. Lovely to see some have followed suit. Please encourage others to do the same. It would be great to create a movement out of it to show how much he is appreciated and loved throughout the world. You can just right click on the image and then save image as to your computer then just upload it to your profile pic.