Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s beloved former leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, died in June at age 94. He had been battling a severe lung infection for some time and finally succumbed after a lifetime of incredible achievements. Here, we celebrate and honor the legacy of a great man as we reflect on his most significant and eternal contributions to humanity.
He taught the world what activism really means: With no fear in his heart, Mandela stood up to those who sought to oppress others. He was willing to give up his own life for the principles of democracy. Speaking at his own defense case in Pretoria in 1964, he said:
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.
He showed everyone the incredible strength of the human spirit: By coming out of 27 years of incarceration stronger and more determined than ever to right the wrongs he witnessed, Mandela showed nearly super-human emotional strength, inspiring all those who suffer from adversity.
He effectively ended apartheid: Through his incredible activism and unrelenting passion to end racial segregation in South Africa, Mandela worked together with other activists to abolish apartheid, paving the way for true equality in his homeland, and setting a better example of justice for the entire world as well.
He became the first Black and democratically elected President of South Africa: Mandela became the first Black president of South Africa and the first president to be elected in a Democratic manner. He was inaugurated in Pretoria, the same town in which he had once stood to be sentenced to jail. During his inaugural speech, he said:
The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us. We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination. We succeeded to take our last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace. We commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just and lasting peace. We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.
He became immortal in death: While the physical being of the man is gone forever, his legacy gives him the breath of eternal life as the impact he made on the world will never die. That is the immortality for which we all should strive.
As we remember this beautiful soul, this cherished warrior for peace and justice, let us all vow to embody the principles for which he stood: equality, justice, fairness and peace for all.
By: Rebecca Savastio
Source: Nelson Mandela.org
Source: U PENN