On the fateful Thursday, December, 5, 2013, the world came to a standstill. Much as I would have mourned the death of a hero with sorrow, I refused, and I instead joined with the world to celebrate with pride and hope, the legacy of a Nelson Mandela Madiba. At 95, amidst rather hard conditions, Mandela had fought on to dear life to the end. When I think of him, there are special words that best describe him; African hero, freedom fighter, first black President (1994-1999), global icon, and o yes, prisoner! Of cos not to mention, South Africa’s strong symbol of the struggle against racial oppression.
For this reason, South Africans or not, we have all lost a noble person in Mandela. With his level of humanity, selflessness and dignity, he will be greatly missed all over the world; he was such a unifying figure between so many people. But what is most important is that Mandela has lived a full life, am sure there were no regrets, (Ok, of course no one is perfect) but he gave life his all until the last-minute.
I first heard about Nelson Mandela as a little girl from a story by my Dad, another great man who happened in my life (RIP Mzee), and somehow every statement about Mandela’s journey to freedom sounded like rocket science to me. It was kind of unbelievable to me that someone with a humble background could fight such a battle without so much stronghold support. But just the way my Dad held on to Mandela’s life in his stories (trust me originally he wasn’t actually good at narrating stories) made me think twice about this guy. And with time, I came to realize that his life is actually a real life story. I still think there was something common between them though – the two guys actually succumbed to the same disease. And for this, I dream of starting a lung cancer charity in my life. (So help me God).
If I could emulate anything about Nelson Mandela, it would be his forgiveness nature, an inspiration, a giant of justice. I would take on his selfless nature of sacrificing his full life to achievement of freedom, reconciliation, justice, and joy. I would never stop to think of the capacity in which he managed to act not with fury and vengeance or resentment to the people who had hurt him so much, but with humility, another reason I believe his legacy will always live on. He lived a truly meaningful life.
Mandela attributes his humble personality to the 27-year imprisonment at an isolated Robben Island, in a damp concrete cell with only a straw mat to sleep on and a thin blanket. At this island, racism ruled. Mandela was only identified by number ‘46664’ to rob him of his real identity. (He was the 466th prisoner at the Island in 1964. The number is now a global symbol for humanitarian causes, raising awareness about social issues like poverty, hunger, education). He is remembered for launching the ‘Kick Polio out of Africa’ campaign in 1996. It’s now the famously known ‘End Polio Now’ campaign today, the Rotary International’s noble promise to Africa and to the world.
If it was in our age, it would totally go the opposite, but trust turning something negative around into something positive, Mandela turned the number into a brand.
Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in the village of Mviza in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. His father was a counselor to a local king. He chose for his son the name Rolihlahla, which translated from Xhosa literally meaning “troublemaker.” A schoolteacher would confer upon him the name Nelson.
RIP Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela! You have left a legacy!
Favorite Quote: “It always seems impossible until it is done. – Nelson Mandela.”