Since the sad news broke last night, much has been said and written about the late Nelson Mandela.
The revolutionary, the politician, the philanthropist. The hero, the icon, the inspiration. Madiba meant a great deal to us all here at OM®, for the things that he stood for (and let’s not forget that his was a life of immense sacrifice) are the same things that drive our efforts. Things like unity, equality, justice and peace. Things like the common cause, an end to division and the celebration of our shared humanity.
In this post, it’s possible that there’s nothing that is new, nothing that is different and nothing that hasn’t been said already. It matters not. Our tribute must be paid, for so much have we taken from this remarkable man and his remarkable life.
For once, we’re not going to use our own words, but instead, we’ll be relying on those of others. Starting with Mr Mandela himself – his from the trial, in 1964, that led to him spending almost three decades in prison – the following quotes have been chosen carefully. It’s powerful, inspirational stuff. Underlining the impression he made on others is the best possible tribute.
Nelson Mandela (1964): ‘I’ve fought against white discrimination and I’ve fought against black discrimination. I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society, in which all persons live together, in harmony, with equal opportunities. It’s an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve, but if needs be, it’s an ideal which I’m prepared to die for’.
David Cameron (British Prime Minister): ‘A great light has gone out on the world’.
Jacob Zuma (South African President): ‘What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves and in him we saw so much of ourselves’.
Desmond Tutu (Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town): ‘He taught a divided nation to come together. He had an incredible empathy. I saw him angry, but his anger was never greater than his patience or forgiveness’.
Justice Malala (Political commentator): ‘Let us celebrate him. This is not a time to weep. This is a time to celebrate a life well lived, a man who stood fearful – like the rest of us – at the door of history and yet dared to brave the storm. We are blessed beyond measure to have shared a lifetime with such a colossus of the human spirit’.
Jesse Jackson (Civil rights activist): ‘The imprint he left on our world is everlasting. He was a giant of immense and unwavering intellect, courage and moral authority. He chose reconciliation over retaliation and he changed the course of history. He is not gone. He remains with us always. He’ll always be a chin bar to pull up on. He has left this earth, but he soars high among the heavens and his eloquent call for freedom and equality is still heard amongst the winds and the rains and in the hearts of the people the world over’.
Ahmed Kathrada (Former Robben Island inmate): ‘I had the unenviable privilege of being alive and walking the earth with you, through the bad times and the good. It has been a long walk, with many challenges that, at times, seemed insurmountable. Yet we never faltered. You always shone a light on the path and kept our destination in view’.
Barack Obama (President of the United States): ‘He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages. His journey, from prisoner to President, embodies the premise that human beings can change for the better. He set an example that all humanity should aspire to. The day he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears. It falls to us, as best we can, to forward the example that he set. To make decisions guided not by hate but by love. To never discount the difference that one person can make. To strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.’
There is nothing more for us to add – nothing more that needs to be said, other than this, our own simple four-word tribute, which we feel couldn’t be more fitting . . .
Nelson Mandela 1928-2013.