Long before he died on December 5th, he had become the symbol of his nation, the father of his country.
Over his long lifetime, Nelson Mandela wore many hats, from lawyer; to political activist who fought to dismantle institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality; to prisoner of conscience; to South Africa’s first non-white President. Long before he died on December 5th, he had become the symbol of his nation, the father of his country.
Universally respected for his role in ending apartheid and presiding over a national reconciliation that moved the country from minority rule to multicultural dlemocracy while averting a backlash against the former ruling class, in later life Nelson Mandela continued to advocate for the down-trodden by focusing on combating HIV/AIDS, rural development and education for the poor.
“Nelson Mandela achieved more than could be expected of any man. His own struggle inspired others to believe in the promise of a better world, and the rightness of reconciliation,” said President Barack Obama on December 5th:
“Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba [NOTE: Mandela’s clan name, used as an expression of respect.] transformed South Africa -- and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings -- and countries -- can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the life of nations or our own personal lives.”
“We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” said President Obama.
“So 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.”