As Mandela turns 95, here are a few thoughts and reflections
There is no one else alive today who has impacted, affected, and influenced my life as much as Nelson Mandela. He turns 95 today, and it is with great sadness that it appears we are so soon to him now passing on into the next leg of his journey.
I was sixteen when I first read his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. I’d never read such a long book before, but I devoured it like a starving man getting his first meal in a week.
His commitment and dedication to what he believed in was truly inspiring. His willingness to sacrifice and put others first revealed my own depths of selfishness.
I didn’t agree with every choice he made, but there’s no doubting his motives were pure. He loved his country—with all its diversity. He didn’t believe in a black South Africa: he genuinely wanted and fought for South Africa to become a rainbow nation, where everyone was treated equally.
My love of South Africa undoubtedly began with my discovering more about Mandela. I fist visited in 1998 and have been back four times since, including for my honeymoon. It is a truly beautiful country. And so much more so because of what Mandela fought for it to become.
It is sad to see that, more recently, there are many within the African National Congress (ANC) who are only interested in themselves and their own interests. They don’t seem to carry Mandela’s vision for a rainbow nation. It is to be hoped that when he dies things don’t take a sudden turn for the worse.
In a world that seems painfully short of true heroes, Mandela stands tall. He has so much to teach us about making our world a better place. My hope is that, on the occasion of his 95th—and probably, last—birthday, a whole new generation of people would be inspired to live with the same level of commitment and compassion, fighting injustice, standing up for the oppressed, offering a better way forward, and giving us a picture of the greater version of ourselves we can become.
Happy birthday Madiba!