Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, known affectionately as Madiba, has taken his place with his ancestors. They waited with pride for him. A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, he was a proud warrior and a great Chief. He was the Father of a democratic nation. When Madiba toured North America after his release from prison in 1990, there was an indescribable joy in the air. Everyone knew that this man had brought a peaceful outcome to an increasingly violent conflict that would have had no victors if it had been allowed to continue.
I had friends who were in exile during the anti-apartheid struggle: Pan Africanist, C.O.S.A.T.U members, whites, Coloureds and many other artificially classified people, who had run afoul of the South African secret police. I had heard of the unimaginable horrors of living under the apartheid regime. The fact that Madiba was able to hold all these diverse groups together, and start the process of healing in South Africa. This was a testament to his strength of will and his graciousness in the face of adversity. When he raised his fist, “Amandla!” was felt it throughout the world.
This is his legacy from his first speech after his release from prison in 1990:
“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.”
We can only say thank you, and honor his legacy by keeping the faith in the ideals for which he was prepared to die. Here is the poem Invictus , which was an inspiration to him while in prison on Robben Island. This was highlighted in the movie of the same name.
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeoning of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.William Ernest Henley
How did Nelson Mandela inspire you?