Nelson Mandela's Example

Nelson Mandela
Photo courtesy of  LSE Library (creative commons license)
I'm sure by now the news that Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, died this week. I must admit I was quite relieved to hear the news as Mandela has been in and out of hospital for months now, and in a very poor state of health. At least he is now at peace.

Being born and brought up in the neighbouring country of Zimbabwe, I heard quite a lot about Nelson Mandela and was also able to observe the effect he had on a nation and the world from fairly close-up. I have also visited Robben Island, the historic prison where Nelson Mandela and hundreds of other political prisoners were held during South Africa's dark days of racial apartheid.

Some still view him as a terrorist fighter. Some hold him in almost god-like esteem. However, I believe we need to look at the fruit of something in order to determine it's roots. If we want to discover the roots of who Nelson Mandela was as a man we should look at the fruit of his life.

  • He stood against racial segregation - he stood up for social justice.
    After years of harsh treatment, imprisonment, racial segregation and violence, when his nation was at the brink of a civil war Nelson Mandela chose forgiveness, reconciliation and unity.
  • As a result saving many lives and giving birth to a nation of unity and freedom for all.
  • After ruling his country with integrity and honesty, he was willing to step aside and let go of his power for another to have.
  • Part of his philosophy is: if you want to make the world a better place, be that difference and help someone else! This idea is implemented practically on 'Nelson Mandela Day' in South Africa were  everyone in the whole country is encouraged to give 60min of their day for the betterment of others.
  • He has set up charities to help the victims of HIV/AIDS
All in all, he was a remarkable man who's life has impacted the world for the better. I just hope that when people look back on his life they don't see someone so immensely good that he becomes somewhat separate from 'normal' people: What a good man he was, but what an unobtainable example he set! Rather, as Nelson Mandela said himself: "a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying" (Conversations With Myself). This is something we can all try to work towards. We can all live a life of integrity and honesty . . . as long as we keep on trying!

What will you remember about Nelson Mandela? Please leave your comment below.


  1. One of the "Greats" of our time, i have amired him since the first time i heard/read about him many years ago.

  2. My most powerful memory of Madiba is the day he was released from prison, I watched the story unfold live on TV and was sitting alonein a cold damp flat with no food, milk, teabags or cigarettes (I was a smoker then) I did however have a largeheap of amphetamine (speed) and had been sitting taking it for 48 hours or so non-stop. The emotion that the coverage evoked and the overwhelming sense of hope I felt, reduced me to tears, sobbing helplessly all alone in my empty cold flat, telling myself I deserved more than this type of lifestyle. Of course it was many more years before I found the strength to overcome my need for escaping reality through drug abuse, but I will never ever forget the feelings I had seeing Nelson Mandela walking to freedom.


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