Mandela The Lionheart
1918 to 2013
A nation, a continent, in fact the whole world today mourns the passing of a great man, who led South Africa's transition from white-minority rule.
Few people in our lifetime have made such a lasting, positive impression on the history of this planet as Nelson Mandela, an icon of freedom and liberation.
‘The shape of modern South Africa bears his imprint,’ one mourner said.
South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, announced Mandela’s death saying ‘South Africa has lost its greatest son.’
Tributes to this ‘hero of our time’ are pouring in from leaders across the globe as I write.
Prime Minister Minister David Cameron said ‘one of the brightest lights of this world has gone out.’
President Barak Obama stated Mandela ‘has left a lasting legacy of peace and freedom.’
South Africa’s last white president, F.W. De Klerk, claimed Mandela was of great stature and ‘was a great unifier,’ and civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson said Mandela was ‘a global impact force for good.’
But in his lifetime, Mandela said: ‘I am not a saint, unless you consider a saint a sinner who keeps on trying.’ He merely practiced the greatest Christian virtues, love and forgiveness.
White South Africa demonised Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC), which he joined in 1943.
But despite being imprisoned in 1964 charged with sabotage and spending 27 years doing hard labour, he forgave his captors. On his release in 1990, he said: ‘I am preaching forgiveness and that is how I am going to defeat them,’ and he did.
He fought for reconciliation despite his ordeal; Mandela transcended the white nation who imprisoned him. He said he could not negotiate while in prison and on his release said: ‘Let bygones be bygones.’
After his release in 1990, he won the Nobel Prize in 1993. In 1994, he became the first black president of South Africa and has left a lasting legacy, the end of three centuries of black South Africans being considered inferior.
Mandela preached that decisions should not be guided by hate, but by love. May today’s world leaders take his example and build bridges to bring peace and love to safeguard the future of the planet. And may every inhabitant of the earth practice forgiveness and Christ’s commandment of loving your neighbour as yourself. Amen.