On 5th December 2013, the world lost a valuable person. You passed away, but your legacy lives on.
Even though I was not born when you were released from imprisonment, let alone when you were born, reading and hearing stories about you never fail to inspire me. Not many people are indescribable, or even this lighthearted to say the least, and despite your headstrong battles for freedom and human rights, you still remained a man full of love and forgiveness, even for those who had oppressed you for 27 dreadful years.
“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.”
You have accomplished many things in his life, many of which did not only benefit you, but benefited the welfare of many as well. You did what you thought was morally right, and continuously fought for the greater good of people. One of the most notable achievements being the dismantling of the apartheid system of South Africa, and bringing the country through to democracy. The Nobel Peace Prize you were awarded in 1993 was nothing short of deserving and it could not have gone to a better person.
But despite your many achievements, what made you most inspirational to me was your undying spirit and love for human rights, peace and freedom. Not many men are known to have done so much for the sake of equality, but you have, relentlessly. You were so full of love, humor and humility, and it is almost impossible for anyone to find a picture of you looking gloom. Your whole life was a fight for what seemed impossible to many, yet in your own words, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”
You have proved to me that one man who stands firm for what he believes in can truly make a difference. I am not exaggerating when I say there are no words that can describe you. Even though I may be young, reading about you sends shivers up my spine. There is the aura you emit, through words or books, recollections or stories, that simply makes me feel the strength of your resilient spirit.
One of the most inspiring things about you was your forgiving heart, and how you had it in you to forgive those who had hurt you for so long.
“You did a great thing in inviting your jailers to your inauguration, but didn’t you really hate those who imprisoned you?” He replied, “Of course I did, for many years. They took the best years of my life. They abused me physically and mentally. I didn’t get to see my children grow up. I hated them. Then one day when I was working in the quarry, hammering the rocks, I realized that they had already taken everything from me except my mind and my heart. Those they could not take without my permission. I decided not to give them away.” Then he looked at me, smiled, and said, “And neither should you.”
After I caught my breath, I asked him another question. “When you were walking out of prison for the last time, didn’t you feel the hatred rise up in your again?” “Yes,” he said, “for a moment I did. Then I thought to myself, ‘They have had me for 27 years. If I keep hating them, they will still have me.’ I wanted to be free, and so I let it go.” He smiled again. This time, he didn’t have to say, “And so should you.”
Your reconciliatory attitude and remarkable lack of bitterness is definitely what I most admire about you. The best way for anyone to honor you, Mandiba, is to embody your loving, yet strong, personality. I am not even kidding when I say I actually shed a tear writing this. Such is the power and inspiration you had on the world. Truly a remarkable man that can never be replaced. My deepest and sincerest condolences go out to your family and friends, and the people of South Africa that you have freed. You were the moral center for not only them, but the rest of the world.
Thank you, Mandiba, for teaching me what it means to be human.
“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”
And now the deed is done. Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela. I know you will. God bless you.
6 December 2013