He will always be remembered as South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon. The trails Nelson Mandela blazed for peace, unity, forgiveness and freedom will be forever appreciated not only by South Africa but by the world. Yesterday, as he breathed his last at 95 years old, we are also reminded that 27 years of his life were spent behind prison bars. I would like to honor the memory of Madiba by recalling some words* he had spoken when his feet still touched our ground.
“I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
“If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.”
“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.”
“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
“In my country we go to prison first and then become President.”
“I have retired, but if there’s anything that would kill me it is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do.”
*Some of the quotes above are sourced from brainyquote.com.