One of the true legends to ever walk the earth has left us. Behind he leaves a thought in us all – equality. There is no greater thing to strive for because under equality lies love, respect, forgiveness, freedom and hope. They say you cannot live forever but in Nelson Mandela’s case like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King before him he will always be talked of, idolised and missed. He stood for the best in us as humans and even as the worst of humanity faced him he was able to embrace it and turn it round. From race and apartheid to the fight against AIDS he made difficult decisions, went against advice and challenged what he perceived to be injustice.
He was the unofficial President of Planet Earth, the Grand Master of our species because of his vision and heart. To have walked the earth at the same time as this giant and to have supported causes that he put his name to makes me proud. My words are not enough to sum up a man as great as Madiba – only his own will do. From the rally in Cape Town on 11th Feb 1990:
“Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans. I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all.
I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands. On this day of my release, I extend my sincere and warmest gratitude to the millions of my compatriots and those in every corner of the globe who have campaigned tirelessly for my release.”
“Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. We call on our people to seize this moment so that the process towards democracy is rapid and uninterrupted. We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts. To relax our efforts now would be a mistake which generations to come will not be able to forgive. The sight of freedom looming on the horizon should encourage us to redouble our efforts.
It is only through disciplined mass action that our victory can be assured. We call on our white compatriots to join us in the shaping of a new South Africa. The freedom movement is a political home for you too. We call on the international community to continue the campaign to isolate the apartheid regime. To lift sanctions now would be to run the risk of aborting the process towards the complete eradication of apartheid.
Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way. Universal suffrage on a common voters` role in a united democratic and non-racial South Africa is the only way to peace and racial harmony.
In conclusion I wish to quote my own words during my trial in 1964. They are true today as they were then: `I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.` “
Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela